Gus Goes To Surgery…

It’s the afternoon the lights went out in Scottsdale; a tale from the cancer chronicles.


“Um, is this really necessary? I have plans.” I don’t want Wonky Face. Been there done that. Dr. H says local anesthesia will affect the facial nerve. This time the other side of my face will go droopy, really droopy.

“For how long this time?” I whine.

“Only about a week,” says he. He adds I can punch him in the arm for any week after that. I’ll punch more than his arm. The opposite side, Wonky Face 1, is almost normal. I still have a lopsided smile and slurred speech. People think I’m hammered in the middle of the day. Whatever.

Dr. H finds more cancer that must be removed quickly so radiation can start on time.

“Will I die?” It’s the underlying thought when he says there’s more.

He says, “Of course not.”

I say, “Okay, then we’re good to go. What do we do?” This is before I know surgery number three involves the return of Wonky Face.

I gather the posse—Sisterella and The Goddess. Lucky us, L.A. Niece is in town to join the fun. When we enter the waiting room, it’s like Cheers. I’ve been here so many times they shout out, “Linda!”  Not really but they should.

In pre-op, I get my ass-baring gown and purple socks. We’re ready for the IV I love so much. I beg for one each time. “Please, sir, may I have another?”

And the lights go out. In a hospital. In the middle of a Friday afternoon. In a hospital.

My eyes blink. Evidently hospitals never heard of nightlights and the chicks in the waiting room have my phone. It is not just dark—it is pitch. Not a creature is stirring. I know there are about twenty nurses back here and just as many patients. Silence.

“Not to worry, there are back-up generators,” a voice calls out. And the generated lights come on—but only some. A truck hit the transformer is the story. They’ll be taking no more new surgeries back until regular power is up. My fate is in the hands of APS—comforting. Will they petition the legislature to charge us double for this experience?

Through the crack in my curtain, Sisterella can be seen creeping down the hall. She shimmies in and closes the curtain. “I snuck in.” We laugh. “I waited for the doors to open.” I imagine her scurrying through, looking behind, checking if the coast is clear and then marching along like she owns the place. We decide to smuggle in The Goddess and L.A. Niece. Successfully smuggled, the noise in our curtain-walled cube grows.

Nurse Jill meets everyone and I get the feeling she’d really like to stay. It happens when we’re all together.

When Dr. H appears, he says he only had to follow the laughter to find us. It’s like breadcrumbs. Surgery is rescheduled to Monday or Wednesday. We tell him Monday works better for us. Sisterella’s out of town. There is an appointment with the radiation guy. We all talk at once, reviewing our various schedules. The surgeon, who commands respect wherever he goes, shakes his head and says, “Okay, Monday it is.”

“So, can I go,” say I. “Yep,” says he.

In unison, we yell, “Happy Hour at Terrior.” Head shake again.

As for Gus–the asshole feeding tube–not a peep all afternoon. So, the key is to threaten surgery and turn off all the lights. Damn sure I won’t be sleeping with the bathroom light on tonight.


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