When I woke, my wife, mother, and doctor stood over me like a Holy Trinity.
I tried to speak, but could only gesture to Abbi for a kiss.
I didn’t remember anything prior, or have any idea where I was. Through the fog, I heard Dr. Dawson report that the surgery went by the book. The laparoscopy left just three small incisions. My throat was sore (from endotracheal intubation, I would soon learn). I felt like I had to go to the bathroom (from a catheter, I would also painfully learn). But otherwise, I was fine.
I lie there alone in recovery a while as the anesthesia wore off, woozily taking in the room, slipping in and out of sleep.
Downstairs on the ninth floor, Abbi had secured me a private room overlooking Park Avenue. “This may be a close as we get,” she joked. I lie there motionless as a small army of nurses swarmed around me, periodically taking my temperature, pulse, listening to my heart and abdomen. I watched the clouds pass outside the windows, and the bright sky grow dim, nearly pain-free and relieved to be alive.
Truthfully, the details of my remaining twenty-four hours there are murky. I had a beautiful room with beautiful light. My colleagues sent flowers (which choked me up a little bit). I got lots of well-wishes via Facebook. And I watched tons of TV (lots of news), and tried to read, but never made it that far on account of the words colliding with each other (thanks, percocet).
Abbi laughed when I told her a few minutes after a fresh dose, “I feel like I’m surrounded by thousands of tiny asterisks.” The percocet made me feel warm, but also level: there were no highs or lows, just a constant sense of “blah.”
Still, I regained my appetite pretty quickly, and devoured my first two “clear liquid” meals: jello, apple juice, vegetable broth and Italian water ice.
My, ahem, colonic function returned to normal pretty quickly. And, save for the fact that I didn’t have a ton of energy, and I couldn’t bend or twist my torso, I was in pretty good shape. I took walks down the corridor, smiling at the other patients, and thanking God I wasn’t in worse shape ( I saw lots of people in worse shape. In fact, I told Abbi that I hope to die quickly; a hospital is no place to go).
I grew accustomed to the cycles of the hospital: the changing shifts, the cleaning lady, meal service. I made friends with everyone, and thanked them all profusely. I entertained dozens of residents and interns, each younger than the next, each gazing thoughtfully at me, dispensing nickel-anti advice. But mostly, I stared out the window at the passing clouds, and thanked God that I wasn’t in (much) pain, and that I had an amazing wife and a great family to look out for me.
Dr. Dawson visited Wednesday evening, a few hours after my first solid meal.
“I think you’re good to go,” he said. “Just take it easy this week. No running. And don’t rush back to work.”
“What about rock ‘n roll?” I asked. “Can I play my all-ages show Saturday afternoon?”