The Transplant by G. K. Brannen
Time is of the essence here,
To live, someone must die.
God’s breath must return to origin
for that same respire to continue.
The body must return from which it came
for another to remain.
This knowledge is aggressive, and
thought by some to be against the
Laws of God and Nature.
It is stated that man is born in God’s own
Image. In Genesis, the Image is plural.
Therefore, man has the right to live in
duality. The time thread of the gods may be
clipped and retied. The time thread of man
may be clipped and reshaped.
Fate is our fate. It cannot be: altered, bent,
reshaped, or undone.
If spare-parts are necessary, so be it.
The path is written. The die is cast.
We, who have been left alone to strive
forward, can only guess as to the details.
All is not final until the finish line is
Blessed? … I’m not sure. That’s such an awkward word for me. I’ve searched back through boyhood, young manhood, adulthood, and now. Like I said, I’m not sure.
This question of religious epiphany struck me at the oddest moment. I was lying on a gurney just outside the O.R. at The Transplant Center. The time was late evening. I remember lying there listening to the banter between the surgical nurses and other personnel. Why won’t my attention act right? What? What did they say? I felt I was moving in and out of the conversation; my mind wandered back to earlier.
I’d been prepped for surgery by a big seasoned nurse who had no shame at all. Honest to God, you’d have thought I was a piece of pork being prepped for a bar-b-que pit. “Turn over, spread your legs, you’re such a baby, there ain’t no reason to be shy now … you ain’t got noth’n I ain’t never seen before, … don’t you get none of that on my clean sheets, … you ain’t never give yourself an enema?
GIVE me that!”
What were they saying … something about a party? I kept wanting to become part of the conversation; but I was like … the “invisible one.” Lying there with IV’s hanging out of my arm, no clothes on except that sheet, my head in a nylon bag … Hell, I wanted to go to a party. My thoughts were bounding like jack rabbits. It sounds like a great idea to me. It was probably just the premeds kicking in. … What was that about a thong?
Lights turned on. I was being rolled into the operating room, with a gallery, I might add. Being I was at a university teaching hospital, they had asked if I would sign a waiver so any intern interested in liver transplantation could watch. I figured it may be interesting to look at people that were looking at me ─ anything for science. Everything had happened so fast since I got to the hospital, I would have signed anything. And then, there was that prep nurse … jeeze ─ talk about irony. I was rolled around and jostled up next to the operating table and: “1-2-3” hoisted across, then gently arranged on, what kind of table is this? It was like being laid on a piece of stainless steel with an enormous rise in the center about lower mid-backbone. One of the surgeons introduced himself and his team to me. He asked me a few basic questions: “do you know where you are, do you know why you’re here, and are you comfortable?” “Comfortable?” I remember asking. No, I wasn’t comfortable. I would find out later after surgery that the table used was specially shaped to maximize the opening of the torso after they cut across the abdomen. They would then use a special medical hoist to lift and separate the ribcage. I figured it was kind of like opening up a “top fuel” dragster, so they could get at whatever they wanted to change out. And, then there were all those folks up there in the gallery. I wanted to wave, but … no, no sense in being my normal smart-ass self now. I did however look at a guy working at a shallow basin nearby, and the surgeon who was talking with me said that the newly acquired organ they were about install was “a good fit, and it would serve me well.” I was then draped, masked, and drawn on.
So, with that, we were ready. It was show-time. The young nurse that had been outside talking about the party leaned over me and told me she would be doing the catheter. How weird. Then, with a little snicker, she whispered that she was wearing a bright red thong … What… not now!
* * *
Is somebody crying? I can’t quite figure out … is somebody crying? I remember it was dark and I kept hearing that crying and it was so far away. I figured someone had died. Hell, maybe it’s me. … Is somebody crying?
* * *
“George …George … can you hear me?”
Now, who the hell is that? … Yeah, I can hear you. Why is it so dark? Where is that voice coming from? The voice I heard was close ─ wasn’t it? My mind could hear him. Why couldn’t he hear me?
“George … can you hear me? Try to open your eyes. I’m John, your nurse.”
Thirsty! My lips felt like … parched and cracked … like those river beds you see in Africa during the dry season … parched and cracked.
“Here, try this.”
There was that voice again. Who is that?
John, whoever he was, had placed something damn cold, ice on my lips. My mind wouldn’t let me open my eyes … it’s so dark, the ice … wonderful. That ice cube was the best tasting ever. Talk about bliss.
“George, you’re in ICU and you came through the surgery really well.”
Why is it so dark? Why can’t I see you? That ice is … awe-man … give me some, “More.”
“Not so fast … easy … a little bit at a time.”
I think I’ll leave my eyes closed. … Yuk! “What was that?”
“What was what?”
That’s not what I had before. “What is that? …Yuk!” Bitter … so bitter. I didn’t know what he gave me but, it wasn’t like the last. I think he was just messing with me. I never did find out.
“George, how do you feel, does anything hurt? Can you open your eyes?”
I feel pretty “good … comfortable … tired … can’t open my eyes … they don’t work. Did you hear anyone crying earlier … I did? Tired, it’s weird being here, I can’t open my eyes. … I think I have to go now.”
* * *
Jesus, what’s all that noise, where am I? Who’s tugging at me?
“George, George, Mr. Brannen, can you hear me … wakeup? It’s Laura.”
Laura, my post-surgery nurse, was right beside me. I recall, I couldn’t figure out how in the hell she got into this dream. Opening my eyes, she was smiling and informed me everything had gone really well and I was in recovery now. There was another nurse on my right dealing with the IV’s. I couldn’t read her name tag; she leaned over, smiled and whispered in my ear: “You are blessed.”