..Marian Black..

My Twilight Zone

Dealing with the unknown is a lighter burden with the support of friends and loved ones. I am at the Outpatient Surgery Center waiting to have my surgical biopsy, praying my breast cancer has not returned.

Thumbing through the tattered magazines lying on the coffee table dated back to 1994, while listening to CNN on the TV, I am trying to maintain some degree of calm and composure. CNN is not a very calming program these days with the terrorist attacks and corporate scandals. The last thing I need to see right now is blood and guts. I keep looking at my buddies, Janis and Don, for support, but they are engrossed in their own reading material.

Trying to distract myself by rummaging through my backpack, I take inventory of all the essential things I brought to insure a successful surgery...rosary, check...elephant with trunk pointing up necklace, check...extra pair of new undies (for the ride home), check...my mothers prayer card with the St. Jude (patron saint of the impossible) prayer on the back, check...crucifix, check...lucky ladybug pillow, check...

"Marian Black!" The nurse cries out from the door to the O.R. waiting area.

My heart jumps into my mouth. Oh, no! I stand, but my knees lock. I feel the blood rush from my face. I know what will happen if I go through that door.

The paranoia begins!

Don picks up my backpack, takes my arm, leans down and gives me a kiss. He leads me towards the nurse, assuring me all will be okay. For him maybe! He's not the one that they want! I follow her down the hall into the waiting area. The smell of rubbing alcohol and latex fills the air. The nurse forces a smile as she lunges towards me handing me one of those hospital gowns. She says, "Take off all your clothes, dress with the gown open to the back and empty your bladder, I'll be right back to start your I.V." At that moment, I wish I had a body double.

I decided to do what she tells me. After all did you see what Nurse Ratchet did to Jack Nicholson? He wound up with a frontal lobotomy! I think she looks a little like Nurse Ratchet! I am not messing with her.

Like a good girl, I did what she told me to do. I shuffle my way back down the hall to my assigned gurney while clutching on to the only two inches of dignity I have left, keeping my gown closed. Janis and Don are there, waiting for me. I grab my backpack, hop up on the gurney and pull out the rosary, the elephant necklace, the St. Jude card, the ladybug pillow and the crucifix. I put all of them on me in one fashion or another. Ridiculous looking, perhaps, but since there is no fashion protocol for a rear opening hospital gown, who is to say my ensemble is gauche?

Ok, I'm ready now, sort of...

Janis takes my hand, looks at me and asks, "How are you doing?" I say, "I'm doing okay." She knows me better than that though. She was with me for the original cancer surgery. She knows I'm not really okay. After all, the last time she had to get on top of me on the gurney to hold me down while the nurse put the I. V. in my arm! I see she's come prepared this time wearing her stretch pants and has removed all sharp jewelry. She has already cleared a path ready to mount me like a bucking bronco if the need arises.

Don with his deep voice whispers, "I am here for you, don't worry. Everything will be all right." I love it when he strokes my hair. I'm glad he's such a big guy and so very protective of me. Maybe they'll take notice and not mess with me.

Nurse Ratchet comes back to start my I.V. "You'll just feel a little pinch!" she says...OUCH! What are you using, a garden hose?...Maintain composure...remember Jack...she is now in control..."You did such a nice job. I didn't even feel it, thank you," I said to her.

"Have you met Don?" hoping to offer her a little of my own intimidation.

She stands back, gives me the once-over, and in her most condescending voice says, "Honey, you're going to have to remove all your jewelry and...um...other stuff, it's not allowed in the O.R.

Ok, that's it, I'm doomed.

Really, I am terrified! Not only about the unknown, but also of the procedure. I feel so much better knowing trusted friends will be by my side, holding my hand until the doctor puts me under anesthesia. But unfortunately, it's not enough to totally calm me down and remove any of my feelings of paranoia.

I am so scared right now. In fact I couldn't sleep last night in anticipation of the surgery. Well, not really of the surgery so much as the anesthesia. It is extremely difficult for me to deal with being "put under." My fear of being "put under" is quite overwhelming. I have worked myself into an emotional tizzy over it.

Sometimes I wonder if this fear is from all those old black and white horror movies I used to watch when I was a kid. You know, the ones about the mad scientist/doctor-gone-bad? The ones where the patient gets put to sleep, only to wake up and find their brain missing, and they just don't know what to do about it. How about when their eyeballs get transplanted and they see the world from another point of view? Frightening!

The movie, "Coma" scarred me for life. I just know these body parts of mine would bring big bucks on the organ black market!

And then there is my "Robo-Cop" syndrome. So, I wake up, all my body parts have been auctioned off to the highest bidder and the only part they couldn't even give away is my brain. Here I am, stuck in this metal suit that's powered by solar energy because the mad scientist doctors were also environmentalists. Now, I can only go out on sunny days!

So, trying not to look like a lunatic, I subtly let the doctor know that I would prefer not to have anesthesia. I promised her I wouldn't move and would keep my eyes closed to make believe I was asleep. I think she may have seen through this cool facade of mine and assured me that I would not be completely asleep. I would be in a state of "twilight." Thanks Doc, more like "Twilight Zone" to me!

As I lay here on the gurney in the pre-op area, awaiting my fate, I am ever so observant of the equipment laying around and of course the hospital staff..."Have you met Don?"... One suspicious move, one knowing leer, and I'm out of here! Biopsies check in but they don't check out? I will not be dismantled!

Reflecting upon how I feel and how scared I really am about my possible return of cancer and by what is going to happen to me, I know I can feel safe. I know no one will remove my brain, or transplant my eyeballs as long as I have my dear friends, Janis and Don, at either side, holding my hand, watching over me and telling me they love me while I fall asleep.

My fate is in Gods hands. Thank God for great friends!

* * *

P.S. The results of my biopsy were negative! And I still have all my body parts...I think.

Thank you, God!

This is dedicated to my brave sisters: Irene, who fought cancer 10 years ago and won. And Diana who is showing all of us incredible courage right now.

I love you both!