I know, Dad. They’re coming. The doctor is coming. They’ll be right here. I know. Just a few more minutes, Dad. Just a few more minutes. Almost here. Almost here.
Clearly, my dad wanted the tubes out.
He was still doped out of his fucking gourd – we’re talking Michael Jackson juice – enough dope to put down a class of first-graders. But he kept trying to reach his mittened hands up to the tubes running down his throat. They’d put these strange cotton mittens on him the first time he nearly yanked the tubes out. The wrist restraints happened after the second time.
The nurses were saying, soon, the doctor will be up soon, any minute now, I just paged him, he’s coming, and the whole family translated that to dad in rotation, each of us taking our turns making promises, any minute now, real soon, as the minutes stretched out and on like some awful extended remix of Waiting for Godot, with the added bonus of knowing the longer it took that cardiologist fucker to show up – and will he? will? he? ev? er? show? up? – the longer someone you love is in pain. Also, Christ, the body heat. We were seven adults – one of us lying in a futuristic hospital bed like something out of Alien – in a room only slightly larger than a parking space. (I remember thinking the first night that it didn’t bode well they let all six of us back at once.) We were all wearing yellow surgical masks, inhaling and reinhaling our own hot breath…
There’s a French philosopher named Henri Bergson who has this theory called duration – which is hella fucking complicated and most of which I don’t understand. What I do grok boils down to this: some moments, especially emotionally intense ones, can feel like they last longer than they really do. For example, the time between my dad regaining semi-consciousness and the removal of the tubes was approximately 283,000 years.
That lucky bastard doesn’t remember it AT ALL.
Turns out coming off Propofol doesn’t happen all at once. You don’t just click and suddenly you’re awake. It’s a tidal, ebbing-and-flowing return to consciousness – a process that can erase chunks of your memory, and temporarily prevent you from making new ones. Which was why my dad told me at least five times that the cardiologist looked like a young Harold Ramis. Which, okay, I could see – but frankly I was more focused on the “young” part.
As in, I was almost positive this dude was younger than me. And let me tell you, thinking of any doctor – much less the doctor responsible for your father’s life – seeing him as a “dude” rather than a “sir,” is more than a tad unsettling. I wanted to ask the kid for a badge of some kind. Like, a merit badge, maybe.
It’s obviously gonna take me a little longer to write this than I thought, Dear Nonexistent Reader. Kinda processing it as I go. Trying to ease back, not push myself too hard right now. I lost four pounds last week, so I’m eating a lot of Girl Scout Cookies to build back my strength. I could totally win a merit badge in that.