By the psyche’s own arcane schedule of markers and indicia, “it”–this recent journey into the netherworld of death and rebirth occasioned by my successful gall bladder surgery–began two weeks ago today.

During the day my inner Imperious Queen, far more a tyrant than the Queen who so intimidated poor Alice, had been forced to accept, with mewling good manners and a semblance of calm, a situation that called for hysterics and upheaval on a continental scale. Later, in the night, in Dream Time, my inner Dutiful Daughter, a timid creature who makes much of keeping secrets from herself, took quite a charming step toward self-recognition and frightened herself into a panic of equilibrium-altering proportions. What can I do?, I then asked myself, feeling both beset by Queen and betrayed by Daughter. I can EAT! and proceeded to consume the grain foodstuffs of three small duchies and later the meat leftovers from several municipal feasts. Ah, sweet satiation, as I drifted off to sleep.

NOT, as I awoke to burning pain lodged somewhere in my right chest near the elbow. And NOT during two days of increasing discomfort, as breath becomes increasingly difficult and speech almost impossible. But the pain is on the right side; I can’t be having a heart attack, can I? By Friday I am scared and call the Kaiser Advice Nurse. “We think you should come in. It could be a pulmonary embolism, and we can’t rule out something with your heart even if the pain is on the right.”

But I don’t have transportation today; I can make it tomorrow. Then I begin to dilly-dally. Should I, shouldn’t I? I mean, after all, how serious can it be? But what if I wait and something Really Bad happens? Maybe I can find someone to take me, but that’s such a hassle. Then I call 911. “I’m having difficulty breathing.”

Emergency medical technicians here in minutes. Ambulance. IV. Emergency Room. Tests, more tests. Foley catheter. Nothing by mouth “just in case.” Hurry up and wait. Ten p.m. Inflamed gall bladder, surgery tomorrow. Ten p.m. Saturday night. Into surgery, finally.

I wake up in my room, can’t find any bandages, wonder if they’ve done the surgery, go back to sleep.

The surgery went well. Five small bandages, easy for benumbed fingers to miss in the dark. Liquid diet for breakfast, normal diet after that. Sunday in the hospital, home Monday.

“Your gall bladder was so inflamed it disintegrated every time I touched it with my surgical implements. You would have died if we hadn’t operated when we did.” This, from the surgeon Friday when he removes the drainage tube.

I think about my Imperious Queen and my Dutiful Daughter, the day before the first attack. My therapist tells me that thoughts just happen, that dreams just happen, that I didn’t “cause” the gall bladder attack, that it also just happened. I’m not so sure. I think about the reports of altered behavior of wild creatures before earthquakes and tsunamis, and cannot but wonder if the melodrama, imperial and diffident alike, that prompted my own inept response wasn’t somehow a good thing. The Imperious Queen seems less fearsome than she did. The Dutiful Daughter’s devotion seems a finer, stronger thing than I had thought. And I go forward into what will surely be the latter years of my life newly pregnant with possibilities I had not known before, possibilities that reach to join the inner and the outer worlds in a way that seems both to anchor me here and to call me home.

Advertisements