14 hours

I have no idea what's going to be happening.

It's 1:00 am, which means that in fourteen hours, I'll be getting in a car and going to the hospital. My doctor is going to try and fit me in, so there's a chance that I'll be sitting in a room or lying on my side in a bed well into the evening. There's a chance that I'll do all that sitting or lying, stomach empty and painkiller-free, only to be told that I have to come back the next day. Or maybe the next. In the world of elective surgery, you take those kind of chances. But with any luck, some time tomorrow I'll be unconscious and breathing with the kind assistance of a machine. Thanks, machine!

From what I understand, no time passes under general anaesthetic. You blank out and fade back in moments later. But that moment holds hours. It holds the entire surgery in that thin black vial of time. Maybe there are more powerful and flexible metaphors on hand to describe what I'm imagining, but my mind balks at that five-hour instant. I will know, when I come out of the anaesthetic, what's happened to me, but my mind will not understand. And the notion that my mind can be so thoroughly tricked, in a feat of prestige akin to induced death, while my consciousness holds the knowledge with such bland ease, makes me angry, afraid and nauseated. Where do I put these emotions, since what's going to happen is something I've waited and campaigned for over the last eight months? These kinds of thoughts feel churlish.

Perhaps I'm used to my crippled state. The truth is that chronic pain gives you the ultimate hall pass. My natural tendency is to hermit, to sit at home or in a coffee shop and read or write the day away, to light a tiny room inside my head and close the door. My twisted back has given me license to indulge in this behaviour. Healing returns me to the world of physical freedom and responsibility, which exhilarates and terrifies.

The last time I went for a walk by myself, it was spring. It was cool enough out that I needed a hat. I walked five blocks to a coffee shop, and then a couple more blocks to a movie theatre. Every block I had to sit down and wait for the pain to die down. In early summer, I walked six blocks with Schmutzie. It took nearly an hour, and it was the dumbest thing I could have done. I hurt my back even further and have not recovered.

Now I'm looking forward to walking again. You have no idea how good that feels. I have a list of places I want to visit, stores and galleries and coffee shops. There's a chick pea stew at one place, a falafel at another. I want a new pair of jeans. Did you know that when you're twisted and bent over, there's no fucking point in buying new clothes? Bring on the full-length mirrors and the cruel lighting. Bring on the pleasure. Bring on the boredom.