The Day of Surgery: The Disease

This is part of the Medical Humanities Series on Op-Med, which showcases creative work by our members. Do you have a poem, short story, creative nonfiction or visual art piece related to medicine that you’d like to share with the community? Send it to us here.

I’m on the bed, Mom’s to the left of me, sitting
She gets nervous and fidgety, so I’m glad that she’s knitting
Nurse smiles and makes a joke. I don’t feel much like kidding
She asks if I’m cold, “No, the temperature’s fitting”
But I am pretty cold, not sure why I’m scared of admitting

My surgeon stops in, reviews risks and benefits of the plan
“Surgery should be straightforward, we’ll get you out in 3-5 hours if we can
Have you seen anesthesia. He’s a great one, Michael Chan”
I’m glad he’s back from vacation, happy, rested, and tan
He’s the best in the city. My friend referred me, she’s a huge fan

Anesthesia stops in, he’s got a great smile
Cute British accent, we talk for awhile
I ask if he’s good, says he graduated top percentile
He doesn’t take too long, looks at my neck, in my mouth, and rechecks my file
A little annoyed, orders some labs, says he’ll need some blood, just a vile

I let out a few nerve-tinged, audible sighs
It seems too early, but we start to push back, and I say my goodbyes
“I love you mom.” “I love you too,” she replies
Nurse can’t console me no matter how hard she tries
I ride into the room, a silly hat on my head, tears filling my eyes

“Welcome to the OR, Dr. Chan is behind you, just slide over, dear
Feel the bed on both sides. Scooch, scooch. Yes, right over here”
Everyone takes turns standing over me, slowly they all disappear
They’re talking in the corner, but soft music is playing, so the conversation’s unclear
I got something for anxiety, not sure it helped with the fear

“I’ll just get an IV.” He gets it at twice
My left arm starts to burn, “This medicine may hurt a bit. Try to think of somewhere nice.”
I think of Costa Rica, this time of year it’s my little slice.
This one time I went with my……. uh…… this…… spice
Oh man, I can’t hold my eyes…

……
….........
…………….
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….

“Surgery is over. You’re just waking up. No, don’t touch your face.”
Feels like my body is floating and my mind’s still in space
“Surgery is over. Everything went just as expected”
I removed all of the tumor that your scan had detected”
Their voices are calm, but the room feels quite hectic

My senses return, I remember this place
Dr. Chan leans over and says something silly right at my face
He tells some sweet nurses all about the case
I listen intently but just can’t keep the pace
I hear, “they got it all.” The news truly elates

To the nurse “please, do you think you can let back my mother?”
They smile and jest, “that’s fine, long as she promises not to hover”
My pain threshold is low, they’re quick to discover
But I focus on today’s success, the first since diagnosis, Mom and I blubber
I’m anxious to get to my room, to sleep, to heal, to live, to recover

Dr. Joshua J. Goldman is a graduate of Integrated Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (PRS) at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Medicine and is currently an Integrated Craniomaxillofacial and Microsurgery Fellow at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak. His professional interests include healthcare advocacy, device innovation, digital marketing, ethics, medical education, and physician wellness. You can follow him on Instagram at @GoldStandardPlasticSurgery. He is a 2018–19 Doximity Author.

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