Ancient History--June 2007

The receptionist sounded so cheerful. "If you like, we can schedule you for surgery right now." I gulped. "Ummm... sure."

I was on the phone to Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona. It hadn't occurred to me that I'd be looking at dates for the surgeries; I'd only phoned in order to set up an appointment for a consultation with Dr. Spetzler.

I could hear the sound of fingers flying across a keyboard. "Well, let's see...he's available during the first couple of weeks in August, and then he's off on vacation. We could do it before he goes on vacation or when he gets back in September. Do you have a preference?"

"I... uh..." My voice was hoarse.

I cleared my throat and thought out loud. "I would prefer to get it over with as soon as possible. Also, my husband starts teaching at the end of August so... let's go with the beginning of August."

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I was making arrangements to have brain surgery! I was incredulous that I was able to think in terms of convenience, I was amazed that I was able to think about anything. My hands were shaking, my mouth was dry, and the swivel chair I was sitting on was twirling back and forth, back and forth.

"Okay... let me see...He wants a day between the surgeries... it looks like the best days would be August 8th, and then August 10th. How does that sound?"

This was real, it was happening. I was actually going to have brain surgery. I couldn't think past that. I was going to have brain surgery. In about two months. Brain surgery. Two brain surgeries. A day apart.

"Are you there?"

"Oh... yes, I'm here, sorry. What was your question?"

"No problem. I understand." She spoke slowly. "Would August 8th and 10th work for you?"

"Uh...yes, that would be fine."

"Do you still want to do the consult with Dr. Spetzler?"

All the personal accounts I had read intimated that Dr. Spetzler was extremely likable, but I needed to form my own opinion. I wanted to meet the guy who would be rummaging around in my brain. "Yes, please. I've already essentially made the decision to go with surgery, but..."

"Okay, he won't have any openings until mid July. How about 2:00 pm on July 18th?"

I looked at the calendar. "Yes, that would work."

As soon as I got off the phone with Barrow, I dialed Cindy's number.

"I'm scheduled for surgery on the 8th and 10th of August."

There was a pause at the other end. "What did you say?"

I swallowed. "My first surgery will be on the 8th and the brainstem one will be on the 10th."

"Of August?"

"Yes." I was having trouble breathing. "I just got off the phone with Barrow." I could hear myself talking, but I had no idea what I was saying.

Cindy said nothing. The silence seemed to last forever. I could hear my heart beating. "Cindy?" My voice was so small. "I'm freaking out. Big time. I'm scared."