The 18 Minute Gap

IV dripA minor surgery, no bid deal. Get there a half hour early and check in. Show your health insurance card, check your medical history on a questionnaire, and you still wait 45 minutes before they take you back. Are you allergic to any medicines, any history of heart problems, and many more. Finally, they set up an IV drip with sugar water just to get you primed for the good stuff.

Doctor arrives looking serious and competent. That’s what you want, right? He wheels you into the operating room, has you sign and initial in five more places. We live in such a litigious world today that we have to repeatedly state in no uncertain terms that we know there are risks to everything and that we still want to have this procedure done.

Operating nurse comes in an introduces herself, asks again if I have heart history. I make feeble joke, that yes, I have been known to have a heart. Doctor laughs. Apparently has not heard that one. I have already done the “Doc, will I be able to play the piano-Yes, why?-Because I can’t play it now” routine on previous occasions, so I am pleased that I have new material for him. I get a few last broken clockminute explanations/instructions and then I must be out like a light.

I use the word “must” because I am, of course, out like a light. The next thing I remember is putting on my coat and walking in the wrong direction to reach the exit, until my wife corrects me. We are going to get a scone and some coffee. Apparently, I have been obsessing about scones for some time.

I use the word “apparently” because I don’t remember discussing scones. I don’t remember waking and asking my wife to move closer so I can see her face. I don’t remember the doctor coming in to discuss the procedure. I don’t remember asking him what my wife describes as “very lucid questions.” I don’t remember his answers. I don’t even remember putting on my shoes.

I do remember that Rosemary Woods, Richard Nixon’s secretary, claimed that faulty footwork killed eighteen minutes of taped discussion that appeared to be about the President’s Watergate break-in culpability. Now, I too have an eighteen minute gap. Eighteen minutes lost forever. Was I really lucid? Wife says yes. If I could appear lucid to wife and doctor, how is it possible that my memory of the described events is zilch?

I may never know the answer. If it were up to me, I wouldn’t remember the question.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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