Firefly

Hmmm. I looked in my back pocket. Not there. Looked in my front pockets. Not there either. I looked behind me. I looked on the floor, under the bed. Damn! Where could they be? Somehow I misplaced them. In a situation like this, what do you do?

Start from the beginning. Okay … easy enough.

It started around 6:59 AM. I heard that sound—that faint beep beep beeping of the alarm. I guess it didn’t really matter. I didn’t really think anything could take it away from me. I didn’t give it a second thought. Though I did plenty of thinking, seemingly only a few hours ago, when head hits pillow. Hoping for a good nights sleep. But it was my head. It was full of thoughts that I didn’t want to escape my lips.

They were flitting, and flying, soaring and crashing, bobbing and whirring, like so many lightning bugs on a hot summer night in our backyard in Jersey. The room was dark enough, it was quite humid … even for Seattle in July. That didn’t help either, when head hit pillow. I’d been told “it’s a simple procedure.” But is any procedure that simple, that risk free? They were going to put me to sleep. Would I wake up? Was Señor Pulmonologist going to find something deep & dark within my lungs. Things we like to keep hush hush. Things we fear? Things I fear? Was I going to meet my maker? Morbid thoughts yes, but valid none the less. They were my thoughts. The one that made me want to cry was the thought of my honey being alone. The idea that I might not ever see his beautiful glowing face again. At the same time it only made me feel closer to him. But it didn’t stop there. My mind darted and flitted just like those luminescent bugs of my youth. I couldn’t quite catch them this time. Couldn’t quite bend them to my will, trapping them in my outwardly stretched cupped hands and transferring them to a lidded glass jar, to observe them, to delight in their fluorescence. These were my thoughts, not bugs, and I couldn’t release them back into my mind’s night sky.

And so it started around 6:59 AM … that faint beep beep beeping. Rolled out of bed & showered. Chris was taking me to Swedish for the “procedure.” We were both kind of nervous. I don’t often see him this way. But there we were silently sitting for the ten minute drive to the hospital. He reached for my hand and held it tightly, asking, “How yah doin’ my honey?”

I mozied up to the counter to be checked in. A little information trading and I’m back sitting with my honey. We sit. We talk. We wait. I looked at him, at one point, and he looked like he was going to cry. I knew he was just as concerned and nervous as I was. But this was a rare moment for both of us. We were there to comfort each other. We both needed it badly.

At around 7:15 AM the elevator door opens and a woman moves towards us and promptly mispronounces my name. I correct her, no that’s Streeeeeeeno. She smiles and introduces herself. She says she understands the name mispronunciation problem. She smiled and held up her ID card and said, “My name is Sigrid, need I say more?” With that we had a bond, and we both laughed. ‘Nuff said.

Sigrid brought Chris and I to the waiting room on another floor. Chris asked several questions about picking me up. We hugged, said our good-byes and he was off. Me, I sat in the waiting room while Sigrid prepared the room where the procedure would take place. She came to get me after ten minutes or so, and led me to that room.

I emptied my pockets, cellphone, keys, wallet, and took off my glasses. Sigrid explained I could stay fully clothed & apologized for the ill fitting “designer” robe she was about to have me put on. She said, “it will help keep any ‘liquids’ that might find there way out of me during the broncoscopy.” She had me lay on the bed. It was set in a very upright position. After I was situated and she knew I was comfortable she began her prep work.

First an IV in my left arm, and a saline drip. Then she informed me that she would be calling down to radiology and they would be bringing up a fluoroscope. This would help Dr H (AKA Señor Pulmonologist) in getting tissue samples from deeper in my lungs. Far past where he’d be able to see with his bronchoscope. Somewhere around 8:00 AM radiology showed up with this monstrous machine. One part of it reminded me of those hair driers one would see in older hair salons. I didn’t know if I was going to get a wash and a curl, or they were going to look into my chest. It took them around ten minutes to get the equipment in place, calibrated & working.

The next thing that I remember, or should I say the last thing I remember, was Sigrid telling me to wave to Dr H. He was outside the room. I could see him through a window gettin’ all scrubby with himself. Sigrid said, “Okay Joe, now I’ll inject you with this and soon you will be asleep.” She was right. No counting backwards from one-hundred. No nothing. The last thing I heard was my voice saying, “Good-night nurse!”

The next thing I know I’m home and waking up in my bed. I look at the clock. It says it’s now 12:30 PM. Was it all a dream? Did I even go? I remember waking up at 6:59 AM to that beep beep beep. I remember all the rest, quite vividly. But what happened from the time of the injection at 8:15 AM until now. How could I lose the memory of four hours and fifteen minutes. How could I not remember two hundred fifty-five minutes of my life? Sigrid told me that I wouldn’t remember the procedure. Okay fair enough. Who would want to remember that! She didn’t tell me that I’d forget anything after waking up from the procedure. I want those memories back! But damn … I can’t find them anywhere.

I asked Chris what happened. How did I end up asleep in my own bed. How did I get out of my clothes & into my sweats? He asked, “You really don’t remember?” Nope …I sure don’t. I don’t remember anything after the injection. So he explained. “I picked you up from the hospital. You were in the waiting room … and boy you were out of it. I helped you up & gave you Ray.” Ray was this cute pink & purple polka-dotted stuffed stingray. He was quite cute. But nope .. don’t remember that. “You were really funny! You kept pushing the button while we were waiting for the elevator. Once we got in the elevator a male nurse asked what had happened.” Seemingly … I told him all about my bronchoscopy. Chris said again … I was pretty loopy & really quite funny. Chris walked me to the parking garage. I got in the car. I lost my cell phone under the seat at one point & Chris had to stop me from looking because I was getting in the way of his driving. We arrived home, at which point he tells me I called both my mother & my sister, and left messages for both. Then I got out of my clothes, into my sweats, and into bed. And that was that … until I awoke at 12:30 PM.

DAMN! Where did all that go? Who stole it? Why can’t I find those memories? They must have been some hella drugs! Had I known, I would have had Chris video tape these Kodak moments. Oh well. The only thing I do remember is how “good” I felt after I did wake up. I felt happy and relieved. I mean … supper happy … über happy! Happier than I’ve felt in years. Lighter than I felt in years. Then we ate lunch …. and it all came crashing down. I felt like my old self again. Tired. Lethargic. Depressed. Damn … I lost four hours and fifteen minutes of my life and I found a feeling or a state of being that I think I lost a long long time ago.

Can someone direct me to the lost and found?

Joe Streno
artist . musician . photographer . apple computer consultant . residing in asbury park nj with his two cats rocky & rose & living to tell tales about it

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