Oregon - Part II


Continued from Oregon Part I

“Do you have any questions about what we just went over?” asked the doctor, the curtness in his tone indicated that whatever question forming in my head had better be well worth his time.

Dr. R is a brilliant surgeon and a pioneer in his field. His impressive credentials and experience notwithstanding, his no-nonsense demeanor alone signaled that he knew exactly what he was doing and would not tolerate any second-guessing. After battling this disease for many years and being told repeatedly that there is no cure, I have come to accept my lot, however reluctantly. The probability that I would be healed at the hands of this austere man I had just met seemed improbably hopeful. However, with self-preservation now a glimmer of possibility, the human nature in me began to want more.

“Um…where exactly are you going to make the incisions?” I carefully phrased my question, my hesitation eased somewhat by the certainty that I was not the first nor would be the last female patient to inquire about superficiality in the face of adversity.

“They will be near the scar you have from your previous surgery,” he replied, still impassive.

I secretly exhaled a frivolous sigh of relief, as I mentally inventoried my beloved collection of bikinis.

“If there are no further questions, we will see you at the hospital tomorrow morning,” he said and dismissed me with a perfunctory smile.

As much as I found Dr. R’s aloof bedside manner somehow reassuring in that authoritative way, I began to miss my doctor back home with a newfound appreciation. A sense of guilt crept up in me as I recalled the tormented breaths taken by this poor man, while I obliviously squandered his time and tried his patience with my inquiring mind. Whether or not I lived through the surgery to make amends with him, later today I would surely be purged of my excessively inquisitive ways.

* * *

“First you empty the packet of powder in the container, then fill it up with water to the line indicated here,” explained the pharmacist, her hands cradling a plastic gallon jug. “Give it a good shake and if you like, you can mix in one of these flavor packets,” she added, spreading the small packets out like a suit of cards on the wood veneered countertop.

Looking down at the packets, I studied the printed pictures of fruits that somehow reminded me of the fruity symbols in a slot machine. Lemon, lime, cherry, orange…perhaps I would get lucky after all? I looked up at the pharmacist, a faint glimmer of hope in my eyes.

“They all taste pretty bad…” she answered my unspoken question, almost apologetically. Then she gave me a weary smile that sealed my fate.

As soon as I returned to my rental cottage, I glanced nervously at the clock and rushed into the kitchen. I quickly prepared the flavored solution and set the gallon jug down with a thud on the dining table. My sister walked in just as I sat down to confront my adversary. She gave me a pat on the shoulder and took a seat across from me. We spent the next minute in silence as she alternately looked at me and the container.

“Is this really that bad?” she asked.

I nodded. Dread welled up in my belly as I remembered my previous ordeal.

“How does it taste like?”

“Like melted plastic.”

“Tell you what, how about if I drink a glass with you? I mean, it will get me started on my diet…sort of like a pre-diet detox…”

I looked at her, grateful for the admirable show of sororal solidarity, and slowly shook my head.

“What’s wrong?”

“There is only one toilet in this cottage,” I muttered in despair.

* * *

Dawn was breaking when I finally wrapped up this sordid business. My stomach had never felt flatter since...the last time I had to drown my sorrows with eight full glasses of cherry-flavored laxative. Exhausted, famished and unequivocally purged, I cursed at no one in particular.

Ironically, I had no one but myself to blame for my sleep-deprived state, on the day of a major surgery no less. I could still hear the words of Dr. R’s nurse, who repeatedly stressed the importance of starting the bowel prep in time to ensure a good night’s sleep. Being the kind of patient that I am, at a time when I should have been dutifully downing this vile liquid, I was instead loitering in downtown antique shops, spellbound by vintage china and silverware…

I thought again of my doctor back home, who, like a clairvoyant, declared upon my very first visit that I was the worst patient.

If he only knew.

Continued in Oregon Part III