(continued from "Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3...")
Cheshire Cat: Oh, by the way, if you'd really like to know, he went that way.
Alice: Who did?
Cheshire Cat: The White Rabbit.
Alice: He did?
Cheshire Cat: He did what?
Alice: Went that way.
Cheshire Cat: Who did?
Alice: The White Rabbit.
Cheshire Cat: What rabbit?
Alice: But didn't you just say - I mean - Oh, dear.
Cheshire Cat: Can you stand on your head?
The night before my surgery my parents and I met my Uncle Lee at McDonalds. My Uncle had flown in from Ohio and when we met up with him he was sitting at a table, typing on his laptop. I had never seen a laptop before, but it didn’t surprise me because I’ve always thought of him as a computer genius. At least that’s how my dad portrayed him. He created software and owned his own company. I didn’t see him much, no one in the family did, but we did sometimes talk on the phone. He loved to ask me how Roo was, Roo being my imaginary pet Kangaroo who lived behind the tree in front of my house. I would laugh – what kid doesn’t like an adult to take their imagination seriously? And I had quite an imagination.
We all went to the hospital to check in. It was December 21, 1994, and my surgery was scheduled for the next morning. My mother helped dress me in a hospital gown and robe and I walked around through the halls for a few minutes. I remember watching goldfish swim around in a tank. My last recollection before my surgery was sitting in my hospital bed, my Uncle Lee in a chair next to me. He and I were playing with the bed’s buttons, moving the feet up and down and whatnot. I faintly remember one more test in which they attached some electrodes to my head and body and then…
Caterpillar: Who... are... you?
Alice: Why, I hardly know, sir. I've changed so much since this morning, you see...
Caterpillar: No, I do not C, explain yourself.
Alice: I'm afraid I can't explain myself, you see, because I'm not myself, you know.
Caterpillar: I do not know.
Alice: I can't put it any more clearly, sir, because it isn't clear to me.
I am awakened suddenly. The room is pitch black except a bright flashlight shining directly in my eyes. I can barely see the forms of two people leaning over me. “One pupil is larger than the other,” said a voice. Then someone asked, “Alicia, do you know where you are?” I had no idea.
Next I woke up in a large glass tube. A nurse and my mother were standing above me. They had red paint smeared across their faces. I asked them, “Why are you wearing war paint?” They looked at each other and laughed in confusion. One asked, “What do you mean?” I said, “Like Indians!”, frustrated that they were laughing at me. They continued to look confused. “We’re not wearing war paint”.
It was night time and I was outside a warehouse. There was a deep fog, but I could see a bright green light shining in the distance. It moved closer until I saw it was a lantern. An old man was carrying it, with a leash in his other hand. At the end of his leash I could barely make out a Rottweiler, because its fur was as dark as the sky. They walked past me, but didn’t give any indication that they saw me.
My eyes popped open and again a bright flashlight shown in my face. This time Dr. Fox was standing with the nurse. He smiled and asked, “Do you know who I am?” I said “Of course, you’re Dr. Fountain.” He and the nurse smiled at each other. I knew something was wrong.
I woke up. There was no one around. No family. No doctors. No nurses. My bed was surrounded by curtains that were white with colored stripes. My little area was bright, as though the sun was somehow shining inside of it. A giant, fancy paper mobile came down from the ceiling. Like magic, a flap popped out that said “Dr. Stephen Fountain!”
I woke up again. Everything was bright. Dr. Fox and Dr. Fountain were standing in front of my hospital bed. I was convinced that their stage names were Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye from the movie White Christmas. I asked them to perform a number for me, and they tap-danced to the “Sisters” song.
This time when I woke up there were giant bouquets of flowers around me. I thought it was my funeral. A metal triangle descended from the ceiling. I looked over and saw a picture of the Virgin Mary with some writing I could not understand. I was terrified, knowing that I was about to be hung by this triangle.
I woke up and I was only a pair of legs. I was the hooker, Kat, from Pretty Woman. Julia Roberts was at the nursing station in front of me, explaining to the nurse what had happened. I was horrified and thought, “How can I still be alive if I’m just a pair of legs?”
I could hear the nurses around me, but I couldn’t see them. They were whispering behind the curtains, sitting behind computer screens at the nurse’s station, intentionally hiding their faces from me. They were plotting to kill me. One walked past me, carrying a giant painting of Elvis so that I could not see her. Another nurse jumped through the Elvis painting as a distraction. I was helpless and confused. A baby Ernie doll (from Sesame Street) was lowered down from the ceiling. I knew it was a trick.
It was bright in my area again and this time my parents were there. A woman that my father had previously dated arrived and my parents were surprised to see her. After she left my mother began to cry, but not about anything related to this woman's visit. She was crying in pain because she had a horrible headache. She said she couldn't take it anymore, and she had to tell the truth. She pulled out her hair from underneath her shirt and it rolled down her back all the way to the floor and continued to roll along the floor for several feet. It was beautiful. We were all in shock that she had managed to keep this secret for so long. She confessed that when she was a child she was on her way to get her haircut. However, my Uncle Dallas loved her hair so much that he convinced her to tuck it down the back of her shirt so that no one would know how long it was and she wouldn't have to cut it. She had kept this secret for over 30 years, even though carrying the weight caused her incredible pain every day. She cried and my father hugged her. He assured her that everything was okay, and they went to get her hair cut.
I woke up and my parents were dancing around, putting on a show for me. The curtain surrounding me unrolled, and as it unrolled out emerged the woman my father had previously dated. She was tucked into Angel wings, and as the curtain unrolled to reveal her as sort of a grand finale her wings opened.
More darkness and too many more strange hallucinations and half memories to mention in one blog.
Then finally, my first real memory following my operation.
Another flashlight in my face. The nurse removed the light and my eyes readjusted until I could see her more clearly. I asked "What day is it today?" She said "January 4th". Worried, I said "It's my mom's birthday! I need to get her a cake." The nurse called down to cafeteria and then ordered one slice of cake. There was an unlit candle on the top. The staff propped me up in a chair and then called my family from the waiting room. My mother walked in. In a meek voice I began to sing:
"Happy birthday to you...Happy birthday to you..." I barely finished the song before running out of breath.
My mother's eyes filled up with tears and she kissed me again and again on the forehead. Not wanting me to worry, she assured me over and over that she was crying "happy tears".
I'm crying a few at this moment, just thinking about it.
(to be continued)