Deja-vu or total recall?

I've seen so many film sequences of people going to emergency theatre. The camera must be on the bed facing upwards at about 70 degrees. All that is visible is the overhead lights of the corridors, lifts and rooms as we speed through them to the operating theatre.

But this is not a film, this is real and it's 70 degrees upwards through my eyes and all I see is the lights and the back of the hospital porter's head pulling the bed plus I have an awareness of the nurse next to me managing the drips and tubes attached to me and the bed. I don't remember the nurse's name but she is the only familiarity I have with this situation which is exponentially fast-forwarding so I concentrate on that connection to the recent past on the ward. She doesn't know me or the pain I feel but one way is enough and I cling to it.

Faster and faster forward, blurs of corridors, corridor doors, lift doors, faces, places, lumpy floors and smooth floors until we reach the operating theatre. Like a film, but this time real. All sensation and fear. Detached but very connected. I'm so scared. I've never been more frightened in my life, or so alone despite the huge number of people here to help me.

20 minutes earlier I had been told that I needed an emergency operation to remove my spleen which had ruptured. Not entirely unexpected because the previous day I got to ride to hospital in painful glory in an ambulance with siren and blue lights flashing all the way from home to A&E. What was unexpected was that the pain was being caused by a spontaneously rupturing spleen. Nobody seems to know why, although it was a relief to identify the source of a pain that felt like my body simultaneously imploding and exploding. And that needed ultrasound and a CT scan to identify the location and a surgeon to make the decision.

Back in the operating theatre. I'm surrounded by people calmly preparing me for (among other things) a laparotomy ( slicing open my abdomen wall from breast to crotch, I learn later, which has left a souvenir uber-scar that looks like one side of a shark bite). It all seems is so unnaturally normal, even the alien depersonalising gowns, masks, hairnets and gumboots, the machines and furniture of an operating theatre, and the sounds which are all pushed to the background while somebody tells me a joke... I didn't hear the punchline because I must have gone under at that point. Even more frustratingly I don't remember the joke either. It was the anaesthetist I think, and he had a Dublin accent.

The one thing I do remember is that I wasn't able to contact my partner to tell her that I was going to surgery. It was too sudden and that feeling is the worst I've ever felt because I thought I might die and I couldn't say "I love you" one last time, because I really do and I really wanted to say it. Over and over and over again

(From 2016)

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