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 Blog Inspirations 

Dr. Timber Gorman's Cataract Symphony

At Mt. Desert Island hospital I'm lying on the operating table on my back. The operating room orchestra starts out like this: bing bing bing bing--a regular beat. Pretty loud. Like something you might hear at a gambling casino. That's my own heart beating.

But to back up a bit, while the orchestra is warming up, I overhear in the pre-op space next to mine, on the other side of a curtain, a nurse explaining about colonoscopy. A lot more information than I needed to know. After she explains about the polyps and the gas (which is normal, says the nurse), I ask my nurse to take me for a little walk.

Then I'm rolled into the operating room. Rachel is my guide across the River Styx, which means she's the anesthesiologist. She knows me quite well and so she will give me zero to minimal dosages of anesthesia, for the most part. She knows I can calm myself with yoga breathing.

I'm a little surprised when Rachel says, in her Virginia accent, "Savitri, I'm going to put you to sleep for about 2 minutes." I found out later that this blank-out moment was because Dr. Timber Gorman needed to give me a shot that I probably would not have wanted to be aware of for the time being.

Rachel says, "Okay, Savitri now it's time to do your yoga breathing." Then Rachel holds my hand, while Dr. Timber Gorman begins the surgery.

Soft background music is a bit like Nat King Cole, but it's not. Dr. Gorman says to the male nurse, a few times, "Go easy on the irrigation." The man giving the irrigation coughs once. I can almost see Dr. Gorman giving him a look. Not that coughing is a bad thing, but maybe it is in the operating room.

A robot speaks now and then, giving directions. It's a female voice. Similar to Hal's in "Space Odyssey," only I don't think this one has designs to take over.

Now and then I hear a sort of rumbling gurgling, like a horse bubbling its lips. I have no idea what it is.

There's an airbag wrapped around my arm that swells and shrinks, with soft breaths. That's the blood pressure machine.

All the while there is an intense white light shining into my eye, and some activity going on there. I know Dr. Gorman is sucking out my old lens.

After a bit, Dr. Gorman asks in her gentle, calming voice, "How are you doing?" "Fine, but I need to clear my throat, is that okay (I'd been told not to move)?" "Yes, that's fine." I clear my throat. Dr. Gorman says, "Okay. Moving on."

Bing bing bing, bubble lips, Nat King Cole, robot woman, BP air bag, Dr. Timber Gorman 2 more times asking how I am and then "moving on."

After the third "How are you doing?" I ask "How much longer?" "Not long. I am about to put in the new lens."

Then it's over. Bright light off. Dr. Gorman smiling. I say, "Rachel holding my hand is better than any anesthesia." And then I say "Thank you," to Rachel, to Dr. Gorman and the two nurses, one male and one female.

With bandage over my eye, I'm rolled into the same room as the pre-op room only now I'm post-op. There I'm given melon and pineapple to eat, and orange juice, and a hot gluten free blueberry muffin. I'm quite hungry.

My neighbor drives me home to sound of Simon and Garfunkle.

The next morning very early, still a bit dark out, with my glasses propped over the patch, I drive myself to Dr. Timber Gorman's office, which is no where near the hospital. As soon the nurse Cathy removes the patch I see very clearly. The world has turned quite bright, and even brighter after the second eye is done. I feel profoundly grateful. And I'm lucky because it is fall season. Colors are brilliant and splendid.

I marveled
at that light,
and grasped it,
and brought it up to the sun.
I laid hold upon it,
and will not let it go.

--Makeda, Queen of Sheeba

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