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    “what the…”






    -coughcoughcoughcoughcoughchokestrugglecoughchoke choking-






    “Shh. Honey it’s okay. Shh. Stop fighting us. We’re trying to take care of you.”
    stopsharpplasticthingopensbringsmorselofairintolungs. notenoughnotenough not enough


    “Please calm down Alex. It’s going to be okay.”
    “Shh. I love you.”
    Her hand rubs back and forth on my thigh. I focus on her fingers, the touch of her skin calms. I let the air pumped into my lungs give me a small taste of breath. Then it closes sucking my relief away whether I want it or not. Why is it so little? Why don’t they give me more? gagcoughfightineedmoreairgetthisthingOUTOFME!

    Voices. I don’t know them. What are they saying? Overlapping whispers. Confusion. One confident pulls order from the chaos. Hands pull around my head. Sharpness stings my arm.
    “…he’s waking up”“…this here”“…slide”
    then I hear through the din and drowning “…find something to make him gag”


    Cold stings my mouth. No air. Fading away. Thin next to thick pushing. Gagcoughchokegagcoughchokepushfightpushpushpulledpulledulledgagcoughcoughchoke



    My lungs gulp down blessed air. I can swallow. I scream something I have never known or understood in my life. Hands pat my chest. There is laughter.
    Her fingers rub my thigh.
    “You did it. Just relax. I love you. I love you so much!”
    I breathe.



    In the pre-op room surgery there is a cold, nervous energy that I don’t think exists anywhere else in the world. Nurses are smiling, doctors and patients make small talk and little jokes with each other as they fill out final bits and pieces of paperwork and release forms that lawyers require before the cutting begins. No one holds eye contact for very long unless it’s a necessary test for reflexes or pupil dilation.

    I tell a dumb joke and the entire room lights up with laughter. I’d love to think that I really am this funny, but I know it’s just the buzz of anticipatory electricity flowing through the room. Plus I see my wife shaking her head at the dork she married. It’s typical of me to make fart jokes when I’m half-naked wearing a surgical gown in a room full of strangers.

    “Have you been shaved yet?” One of the nurses asks.

    “Umm…not that I recall.” Obviously a nervous answer from me.

    “Well, we need to take care of that before we go on any further.” She says and pushes out from the curtained area.

    A few minutes later the curtain slides open again revealing a large man with a clean, shiny head, a sterile sealed razor raised high in his hand and a huge toothy smile on his face. “My name is Fancois. I’m here to shave you.”

    Melissa claps her hands, “Oh goodie! Can I stay for this?”

    “Sure, sure.” He says opening the seal on the battery-operated razor. I laugh nervously. As he lifts up my gown, all I can think about is shrinkage.

    “Now let’s keep him Jewish.” Melissa jokes. They both laugh hard and I cross my legs out of reflex. “Hey hon, it’s okay. He’s a professional.”

    “Yes sir. Just relax.” Francois pats me on the ankle. “Just the leaves. Not the branch.” This of course starts of another bought of laughter making me even more self-conscious.

    Francois eventually completes his task and tucks me back in under the warm, pre-heated blanket. A few moments later my anesthesiologist comes in and I have to suppress a laugh of my own. He tells me his name and title and starts checking off his list of questions before he can officially begin to administer any medication. I answer as best I can all the while hoping he can do his job much better than his look-a-like. (Picture Mr. bean Here)

    Now that his checklist is complete and the IV sticks upward from my hand, we’re getting ready to go. My OR nurse comes in to introduce himself and I have to hold back another laugh. Just so you know, one of my best friends for the last twenty years is named Jim. He is one of the most intelligent, witty and caring people I know. The nurse however, at over six feet tall, shaved head and a close to permanent scowl didn’t have the most comforting appearance for a surgical nurse.

    He introduces himself and we talk a little bit about the procedure and what’s to come. I tell him that I am a pacifist, but when I wake up from anesthesia I tend to be very loud and unfriendly. He tells me that he has three sons he coached in hockey and he should have no problem handling me if he has to.

    This does not make me feel better.

    At this point he says they are ready to take me in. They give Melissa and I a few moments of private time where we kiss and hug and cry and hold hands and say “I love you.” over and over and over again. Still, it doesn’t seem like we’ve said it enough when the wheels squeak me down the hallway away from her.

    After rounding a few corners we pull through two large double doors. The flashing lights, beeping machines and large flat-screen monitors make me think of Star Trek. There are five or six other people in scrubs milling around the room checking on things and getting this contraption connected to that who-sa-whatsit.

    “I guess that’s where the pictures of my innards are gonna go huh?” I point to one of the monitors.

    “Yup. Right there.” My nurse rolls me next to another table and pats his hand for me to “hop” over. I rise up on to elbows and push myself over as far as I can. Then I fart. “Excuse me.”

    “Don’t worry about it.” No one seems to notice. “You’ll be doing that a lot over the next few hours anyway. Now I need you to lift yourself up again. Try not to hit your head on the head hitter thingy.” He places his hand on my lower back and helps me lean up. Of course my head hits the “head hitter thingy”.


    “Warned ya.”

    “Yeah. You did.”

    “So what do you do Mr. Kimmell?”

    “Call me Alex.” I lay back down on the hard table. “I’m a musician and a writer.”

    “Really? The last guy we just worked on was a musician too wasn’t he?” Several voices make affirmative sounds. I see the anesthesiologist out of the corner of my eye.

    “How are you Mr. Kimmell?”

    “Super duper. How’s by you?”

    “We’re all set here.” He pats the back of my hand. “I’ve just given you something to help you sleep Mr. Kimmell.”

    “Call me A…”


    While there are many more moments I could share from my time in the hospital, I think I’ll save them for later. The most important thing is that the good folks over at Brigham Women and Children’s Hospital saved my life. My wife stood guard over me in ways that I cannot fully comprehend. She has more strength than ten thousand Spartan Armies plus two. I was unconscious or otherwise unavailable through much of what she had to witness and help steer me through. For that (and many, many other tings) I will be eternally devoted and grateful to her. Somehow through all of it, she somehow retained her wonderful sense of humor. Thus I will leave you with this one last memory of our hospital adventure.

    “Catheters suck.” I said while shifting positions trying to find a comfortable angle.

    “Actually, they drain.”

    And… scene.
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