Seconds later (ok, hours later), I awoke with Earl by my side. He was smiling broadly, saying the surgery had gone well. My thoughts were still fuzzy and I had difficulty focusing on objects around my bed. Dr. Bitar had come by to appraise us of her review of the operation. Everything had proceeded better than expected, and she was very pleased.
My throat was sore from the intubation (for oxygen and general anesthetic), my nose itched, and with my right arm I could feel the padded dressing covering my wound site. Gazing downwards at my hospital gown, it was difficult to detect any difference in my chest contour. It just goes to show, when you start out small, you have less to miss.
Soon another physician came by to greet us, and although he looked familiar to me through my drug induced haze, I knew he wasn’t one of my practitioners. It turns out he was the husband of my PNS friend Teresa, thoughtfully coming to come check on me and to say hello while coincidentally tending to his own patient. I think I responded coherently, but Earl reports that for the next couple of hours the lingering anesthetic made me goofily but charmingly effusive to any and all (e.g., “Ohhhhhhhhhhhh. Thaaaaank you ssooooooo muuuuch for eeeeeeeverythiiiiiiiiiiing.”). At the very least, this experience gave me the hope that if I ever do overindulge, I will be a happy drunk.
My short-term memory at this point was comically impaired. I would ask Earl about Dr. Bitar’s comments one minute, only to repeat 3 minutes later, ad nauseum. He complied for a while until I’m sure I just became irritating and then would simply point to his smiling mouth and say that everything went well. Interestingly enough, while I couldn’t form long-term memories of complex thoughts, my hippocampus functioned well enough to record simple numbers. While one of the nurses was arranging my transfer to a regular hospital room, Earl tested to see whether I could retain the number 3699 (I still can). And once the nurse had settled on a room number, I was able to remember 2355 as well.
I was wheeled down to my new residence sometime after 6pm and had just settled in when my first visitors arrived. My father’s siblings and their spouses briefly stopped by to see that I was doing ok. Dale and his partner Tom also popped in one last time before heading off to dinner. Food was no longer paramount in my mind though. I merely wanted to sleep.
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