It travels down my stomach like train tracks. It starts two inches above my navel, runs down, circles half-way around my navel as if it were a rotunda, then trails away another three inches before ending abruptly, abandoned, just near my treasure trail, as if treasure hunters abandoned the train and set off on foot to find the family jewels.
I rubbed the scar absentmindedly, tracing its rickety path, feeling twinges in spots--ghost pains, particularly in the darker knots. I imagined the sharp scalpel cutting through my skin as I lay unconscious on the operating table. I imagined the skin separating, slowly, like petals blooming open, a bloody rose; the separated flesh revealing the wetness of my organs.
I had never had been cut open before. I thought that all my firsts were over: my first kiss, my first job, my first pre-mature ejaculation. But I realized afterwards that those were the firsts that I had looked forward to--goals to be achieved. I didn’t know that as life went on, there were firsts that would come unbidden, sprouting underground, like sleeping cicadas: my first grey hair, my first lay-off, my first tumor.
In the minutes, the seconds before going under, I told Brian that I was going to be ok. “I’ll see you in a couple of hours,” I said, hoping my voice was confident, even. But I guess it wasn’t, because his eyes watered. And suddenly, I felt my own tears fall, our bodies heaving silently before we calmed ourselves down.
I was afraid. Meredith Grey’s stepmother went in for a routine procedure and died on the operating table, never knowing her own life was ended by Fate and/or the Nielsen ratings. My recent Google Page Rank or Technorati Authority were low enough to not tempt a dramatic turn, but I was nervous nonetheless. If this blog were Pink is The New Blog or Towleroad, I’d be afraid to cross the street. There is an out-of-control bus with their URL on it, waiting to make a sensational story in the blogosphere. My traffic is hopefully small enough not to tempt Fate, even if s/he had a fetish for Asians with lactophobia. Fate is a capricious tranny.
Anesthesia is not sleep. When you sleep, you toss around, your body moves; turning, like fallen leaves. Your body retreats into a nook; you dream, you moan. Anesthesia is blackness; it is nowhere, nowhen. There is no memory of it.
The surgery was exploratory. I was admitted for another bout of small bowel obstruction, something clogging up my plumbing. It was painful. They couldn’t explain why this is happening to a young, healthy guy with such a great manicure. When this happened to me before, they thought it unusual, but a fluke--the human body is mysterious and sometimes, like Fergie’s songs, you don’t need to look too deeply into it. Sometimes, the human body fails, like a celebutante and a breathalyzer test. You stay a few days at the L.A. County jail, you move on, you go on Larry King.
But a second bout in a relatively short time was unusual. They wanted to rule out certain things.
I didn’t want to think about these certain things.
When they cut me open, they found adhesions: strips of fleshy tape, like plastic wrap, that wound itself around my intestines. They told Brian when I went in that the surgery would be a couple of hours. It took twice that amount of time to cut away the adhesions. If I had been Brian, I would’ve been crossing nerves, climbing walls, compiling dust.
I woke up stapled. The skin on my stomach was gathered together, like continents colliding. The staples were uneven all along the incision, as if these train tracks were built in the old Wild West, rickety and precarious. They were the only thing that kept my guts from spilling out. I pictured my innards packed haphazardly, like a suitcase after a vacation, filled with jumbled dirty clothes.
I wondered idly if I they could’ve taken a kidney or half a liver--that would’ve brought me closer to my goal weight of 150 lbs. But it’s too late now, I have to lose weight the normal way, by abusing laxatives.
It’s been six months, the scar is no longer an angry red. It is maybe, just a little sulky maroon. Very slowly, like Pluto contemplating its orbit, the scar is fading away.
I’ll always remember that moment when I was scared and Brian was scared. It’s terrifying, this synchronicity. I always thought that when one of us was scared, the other would be unscared. I place my palm on my stomach, covering the scar.
But the scar peeked out from between my fingers, like flashes of an old memory; the memory of my fear.
Check these out: