Operating Theatre

I am in holding zone awaiting my surgical procedure. My surgeon comes past to tell me there is a slight delay. There is a back log in recovery. We women in our forties are lined up to be spread apart and peered into. There is a dairy cow feel to it. But no elbow length gloves. We pretend it is dignified, but really we are just another biological system that needs to be understood.

I watch the ceiling as I am wheeled in my bed and now I lie looking up. The white cotton blanket has the smell of a large commercial laundry. I am good at being in hospital. I know what will be done here. There is nothing to surprise me. The delay is not unwelcome. It is not unexpected. In hospital everything is wonderfully out of your control and to surrender to that feeling is strangely comforting.

The theatre is gleaming in every way. Spanking white white walls. The operating lights are a dark shiny blue. In the corner, on a stool, my surgeon waits while I shuffle across to the table. The operating table. He has his head in his phone. His down time between patients. Perhaps he is signalling his late arrival home. His legs are crossed and I notice his knee high white wellingtons. It gives him the look of an abattoir worker. Someone expecting to be splashed upon.

For now I am in the hands of the anaesthetist. Equally attired. Everyone is costumed up, including me, but, I suspect I am the only one without my undies. Like the courtroom with its wigs and robes, the operating theatre has its look too. Scrub tops and pants, hair caps and shoe covers. Even the word theatre; what role, what performance will be on today. How will we all play our parts?

Who is the villain, the hero? I have the bit part. Non speaking role. Who else converses with people as they lie on a slab. Leaning over. No wonder there is a power play between doctor and patient. No one else sees you like this. In a ridiculous gown that has no buttons. Splayed.

We only have a few moments, the anaesthetist and I. Soon I will be away from them all. In a space that is a void. He talks jovially about the Jackson Juice he is delivering. First he tells me there will be a short sharp pain. Indeed he is pushing hard as he delivers the anaesthetic. The theatre nurse is placing a mask across my face.