As the needle hit my skin, I had an unpleasant thought.
Does it really matter? Whether you live or die?
People move on, don’t they? Sure, they’ll cry and mourn you. Some will even change their profile pictures for a few days.
“We miss you!”
“You were taken too soon!”
“What a tragic end to such a beautiful soul!”
A blur of green around me, as I rested my head on the bed. I could sense my toes flexing. before they suddenly went limp. A gentle woodenness crept up my body, pleasant and heavy.
(Dr.Raman, are you doing fine?)
I tried to move my limbs, or perhaps I dreamed I did. Someone put a cold palm on my brow.
I drooled a little, then tried to sit up, but the cold palm patted my forehead.
(Good job, Dr.Raman. We’re almost there.)
Suddenly memories came gushing back, faster than I could keep up. The pain, the doctor’s assurance, the need for surgery.
Oh God, I was in the Operating Suite. The sedative was already creeping into my blood.Making me remember all sorts of inane things while forgetting important ones.
What was the surgery for?
Why is there a white light?
Wait, what’s my name?
I looked up at the nurse, who was checking my vitals. A little crescent-shaped scar on her neck.
Was that a birthmark? Was she proud of it?
Why is my mind wandering?
Also, what IS my name?
The Anesthesiologist grunted in my general direction. Nurse Crescent Scar nodded and got busy.
(We’re starting the Anesthetic, Dr.Raman. You’re doing great.)
I wanted to yell, “Stop calling me Dr. Raman and tell my what my damn name is!”
I did no such thing. Seconds later, I was conked out, slack jawed and drooling again.
I woke up to soft tinkling on a Harp, before going right back to sleep. The next time I awoke, Beethoven’s Fur Elise had replaced the harp. Something fluffy floated above my head, soft like an Angel’s Wings.
Was this heaven?
A beautiful lady shimmered at my side. Delicate features on porcelain skin, I reached out and cupped her face. She didn’t blanch or push my hand away. Of course not. Angels are far more forgiving.
“You’re-so-pretty”, I breathed out.
She smiled and said in a surprisingly deep voice.
“Thank you! My name is Leslie and I’ll be helping you today.”
A wondrous sense of peace filled every bit of me. Wow, so far Heaven was really looking good!
“Les-lie?” I sounded out the word. “Leslie. How lovely. Hey, Leslie? Do people miss me? Are they still crying?”
She shook her dark head and turned away. Perhaps Angels didn’t care for human emotions and all that heavy duty stuff?
My throat itched, and I felt an urgent need to laugh. But I didn’t want to look like a total idiot, so instead I asked.
“Leslie, I’m thirsty? Can I drink some wine? I mean you allow wine right?”
Leslie giggled, sounding like a truck engine. What was up with her voice?
“Wine? Oh, we can do much better than that.”
“Thank you Leslie. Thank you. I think I love you.”
She flashed her shiny teeth and came back with a rainbow ice treat.
I fell asleep before the Ice treat touched my lips.
When I woke up, Leslie was fussing around near my feet, putting fuzzy socks on my cold toes. Her wings swooshed gently behind her.
“Leslie?” I croaked
“Oops, didn’t realize you were awake! How do you feel?”
I grimaced. A little point of pain was pulsating in my belly. Wait, was that how I had died?
“Some pain. But that will go away, right?”
“Of course! Let me give you something for that.”
“Hey Leslie. The pain is manageable. Just tell me something. Have people moved on? Have they forgotten me?”
She pulled a blanket over my tummy and looked at me with some concern.
“Leslie? Is God coming?”
A little smile touched her mouth.
She leaned in and whispered,
“God has already been in to see you. He said you’re doing just fine. And guess what? No one has forgotten you. So wake up already.”
In response, I fell asleep grinning like an idiot.
“Dr.Raman. Dr. Raman. Hello! How are you doing?”
“Wake up sleepyhead.”
I yawned and saw a busy recovery suite. Nurses and residents walking around, checking between screens and staring at clipboards. A dark-skinned nurse was checking my eyes.
“Wh-Wh-What’s going on?”
“I am nurse Rita.Do you remember where you are?”
“Did I just have surgery? In Good Shepard Hospital?”
“Wonderful, and what’s your name?”
I thought hard. Couldn’t remember. So I repeated her words back.
“I’m Dr. Raman,”.
“I had a strange dream. Did my family cry when I died?”
She stared at me. Then burst out laughing.
“Haha, Dr. Raman, you do have a funny bone. Look, your surgeon, Dr. Lee is here.”
A serious-looking man in green scrubs walked over. He looked like the bearer of bad news. Was he going to speak in hushed tones?
Instead he boomed, “Hello Pavi! How are you!”
Pavi! PAVI RAMAN. That’s my name!!
“I’m doing ok. Did the… did the… um… procedure go well?”
He nodded, enthusiastically, proud as a peach.
“Amazingly well. We got it out.”
I closed my eyes. Oh god. (Had it been a tumor? A dead organ? What had he taken out?)
I didn’t want to ask him. He was my husband’s friend and colleague. We often had barbecue lunches with his family.
So I nodded brightly and waited for him to leave.
After he left, I was wheeled to my room. The nurse fussed over me and smoothed my pillows. Finally, I couldn’t wait any longer.
Taking a big breath (which hurt like crazy) I lifted the sheets and peeked under. And saw the damage.
4 teeny tiny incisions on my tummy. Tightly sewn up and patched with sterile tape. And it all came back to me. The pain, the doctor’s assurance about the stones in my gall bladder. The surgeon, Dr. Lee insisting we remove it ASAP.
Essentially I was being melodramatic after a measly Laparoscopic surgery to take out a useless itty bitty organ.
I hung my head and chuckled.
Later, my husband and kids came to visit. I hugged and kissed them and refrained from asking if they’d cried. Friends and relatives texted me love and wishes. I thought about which one of them would have missed me the most. Then shaking my head, I bade my family goodnight.
As night approached, I laid back in bed, thinking about some of those weird dreams. Some people had large brains - perfect for cracking an atom open or inventing marvelous things. Some had the brains of artists - creative and free.
My brain was a 16-year-old drama queen - useful only for cooking up bizarre dreams over a minor surgery.
A familiar voice floated into my room.
“Dr. Raman. Did you miss me?”
LESLIE! I knew that gruff voice anywhere. Wait, was Leslie real?
Confused, I sat up in bed with a groan.
A tall, broad-shouldered man in blue scrubs walked in. He had skin the color of coffee foam, and the biggest eyebrows I’d seen. His face was ugly, but breathtakingly so.
“Now don’t strain yourself, Dr. Raman. You’re still raw from the procedure.”
This was LESLIE? My beautiful, ethereal angel Leslie?
I remembered cupping his face. Telling him he was beautiful. Oh God, didn’t I tell him, I loved him? Well, Sh**!!
Now, I fancy myself something of an actress. So pulling my gown close, I huffed in a snooty voice.
“What’s your name, nurse?”
“I’m Leslie. You woke up from the surgery and were giggling so I gave you a Rainbow Popsicle. You don’t remember me?”
I shook my head.
(I think I love you Leslie. You’re so pretty Leslie. Oh god!)
I shook my head harder.
“Sorry, I don’t recall anything.”
He chuckled. Probably thinking how cuckoo I was. And honestly, I couldn’t disagree.
“Anyway, press that little button if you need help with anything. Sweet dreams, Dr. Raman.”
He turned, and that’s when I saw his Angel Wings. Peeking out from under his scrubs, they were large, intricate and covered most of his neck and presumably his back.
I thought back to how caring and compassionate he had been. The soothing voice, his gentle acceptance of all my weird rambling. I was disoriented and blabbering, and he offered me kindness and peace in return.
At the very least, I owed him some gratitude.
I looked at the life-sized Tattoo of Angel Wings again. Of course. How had I missed it before?
So, I swallowed. And whispered.
“Thank you. Thank you for everything.”
The big, ugly man smiled. Then whispered back.
“You’re welcome, Dr. Raman. And God Bless you.”
As he flicked off the light switch and walked away, I could have sworn his tattoo glimmered.
But hey, what do I know?
I am just a Drama Queen.