It’s how I feel in a papery hospital gown. I can’t stop thinking about how it’s been worn by hundreds (thousands?) of other naked people.
It’s how I feel when my braless breasts go sagging out to the sides as I lie down on the gurney.
It’s how I feel as the nurse tap tap taps on my hand to get the vein after she ties the tourniquet.
The needle shoves past my freckled skin. The prick of pain and the breath I yank in and the tears that gather.
It’s freezing in the OR and although I can feel some medicine starting to work, I’m hyper aware that someone is tying each of my ankles to something hard and cold at the foot of my narrow bed.
The medicine makes me feel wonky and swirly but my brain and body are strong and fighting it. I’m acutely aware that now my ankles are being being cranked up by pulleys, drawn to the top of each of two skinny poles.
Everyone knows there is nothing on underneath a hospital gown.
I start to cry. The anesthesiologist peers over me with his blue mask and tells me it’s going to be okay. But how is it okay when strangers can now see my most private parts?
My body is on display. They’re used to it, they see all kinds of naked bodies day in and day out.
But I’m not used to it.
I don’t remember what else the anesthesiologist says to me, but I remember getting hysterical. The embarrassment of the surgery I was about to have rivaled the level of pain my fissure was causing. I cried hard. I wanted to disappear. I didn’t want people looking at my lady bits, my flabby white cellulite-ridden ass.
All I know is that the medicine is working, but it’s not enough because I’m still awake and conscious enough to feel the cold air hitting my bare body. I’m conscious enough to feel gross and ugly and inexcusably human. All my parts.
So it has come to this.
I sob as the room spins so much I feel like retching.
And then from somewhere above my head comes a mask and I’m told to inhale deeply and count.
At long last, everything goes black.
When I wake up, there’s scalding, searing pain like an iron. Sharp like the tip of a knife.
There’s no one there with me, and I try to call out for someone, but I can’t even make my mouth move.
I roll to my side and pull my knees up, fetal position.
I’ve been gutted.