Cut Into My Body - 06.12.00

I had my first two surgeries before the age of three years old. They were both to correct problems with my eyes and I really don't remember either one at all. In fact, the only memory I have of them at all comes through photo albums. Looking through the baby pictures of myself, I can see that my eyes were completely haywire for nearly a year, then they were red for awhile, then they seemed to be straightened out in later pictures.

My third surgery was fore a hernia repair when I was about 6 years old. I have no idea how a child my age could have gotten a hernia, other than by lifting things that were way too heavy, but somehow I managed to do it. Again, looking through an old photo album, I found a picture of myself at about age 5 straining to lift a pumpkin that looked to weigh about as much as I did. That could have been the breaking point. One thing I remember cleary about this surgery was after I had it done, the doctors used a new form of dissolving stitches to close my incision. For weeks afterward, I would lay in the bathtub and watch them slowly come away from my body like another layer of skin.

Although I don't have any really vivid memories of my fourth surgery taking place, it was also on my eyes and I remember nearly everything that happened afterwards. Because I had to stay home for awhile (and probably partially it was because my 3rd eye surgery and they felt sorry for me), my parents went ahead and splurged and got me my first (and only) gaming system. Up to that point, we'd had Pong for entertainment on the television, but they surprised me one day by bringing home an Intellivision. My friends all had the Atari 2600, but I felt even more special because I had something different from them. Not only that, but the name of my game system seemed a lot neater and although some people made fun of it, I got addicted to that weird little control paddle and the game Pitfall. I never did make the switch to joysticks very well.

My fifth surgery was also unfortunately for my eyes, but it took place a lot later in life. It took place two weeks after I graduated from high-school and since I'd had the same eye doctor since childhood, I had it done at the childrens hospital. I didn't mind all the kids milling around me in the waiting room and although the hospital gown seemed a little too short and they had to bring in a larger bed for me, things went well. When I was waking up from the surgery while the anesthesia wore off, I told my mom that I dreamt I'd thrown up all over myself. She pointed at my different bedding and hospital gown and explained that it wasn't a dream.

Only a year later, I knew that I was going to have to have surgery again. I was shaving one day during the final months of my freshman year of college when I found a small lump in my neck. It turned out to be something that was rare and probably not harmful, but it needed to be removed anyway. Before I went in to be operated on, I asked the doctors if I could see it after they had taken it out and they agreed. They brought it to my room in a little vial after I'd awoke and I groggily slid it back and forth while holding it up to the light. It seemed so surreal that such a slimy little grey mass could have come from inside my neck.

The last surgery I had was to repair the 3rd surgery, which had unfortunately ripped open again after 16 years or so. Not only was it the first time that I'd ever had a catheter, but I had a nice comedic moment beforehand. I was in the operating room shuffling myself from my bed to the operating table in my heavily drugged state when the back of my gown fell open and my body was exposed. In sort of a slurring voice I muttered, "Oh no, my ass is showing." I could hear a few chuckles, then I went under.