After two hours of laying there like a slug (Liz? Movie reference?) I was pronounced able to sit up and a band aid was placed over the site where the catheter had gone into my leg. I couldn’t help but feel disappointed. After all the talk of risks, the anesthesia, the close shave, and the very real pain of having a tube inserted into a major artery, the risk of severe bleeding was still high for surgery tomorrow and all I got was a Band-Aid? I wanted a gnarly scar that I could talk about at parties. You know, like the scene in Jaws where Hooper and Quint are sitting around the table on the Orca comparing wounds and war stories. Instead I felt like Vince Vaughn in Couple’s Retreat when he claims a scratch he received getting out of the ocean onto the boat is a shark bite.
A scar would have made me feel better about having to ride out of the hospital in a wheelchair since I was not allowed to stand up and walk normally until the injection site had had more time to heal. Looking around me there were people in wheelchairs who had casts on, who were breathing on oxygen tanks, or who were obviously weakened by chemo. I felt like a phony sitting in that chair. These people were really sick, many fighting for their lives. These people had real problems. I sat there and contemplated getting up because this was not me. I was not a sick person. I grabbed the armrests of the chair and tried to push myself up. As soon as I put weight on my leg I felt a stabbing pain and the room started spinning. I slowly lowered myself back into the chair. I couldn’t have stood up to walk unless I was able to lean on someone to help carry my weight. For some reason this was the moment in all of the chaos that my mind slowed down and really absorbed what was happening to me. It was the moment that I realized I was, indeed, a sick person. And in that moment, surrounded by my entourage, I felt truly alone.
In that moment I learned what real fear feels like.