GreenasSky A gambol in the goodies by Sloan Nota

Surgery, pt 3


Digital file, red car slitscan, by Sloan Nota

I’d asked my surgeon whether I should cancel appointments in the two weeks after surgery. He’d ordered an overnight hospital stay. Just wait and see he said. I waited and spent seven nights in a neurosurgery ward. Was I surprised? I was.

Don’t get me wrong, I like my surgeon. But I think he’s in a bubble where his needs (he does craniums at 2 hospitals, he’s busy) mean more than his patients’. I haven’t seen him since going under the anesthesia. Since waking up hallucinating, interacting with my husband as he was standing high on a wall.

The surgeon is a good guy, a funny guy, but he doesn’t get that when you exit brain surgery you have some questions. You’ve got a tube under your skin behind you ear and big bulge on top of your head. Email a question, he’ll answer in a minute, Johnny on the Spot. But face-to-face he doesn’t get the need.

What am I, a carburetor? And this is Jiffy Lube? You’re not done with me yet because I’m human and you’re human and you just opened up my head.


After surgery I hallucinated for three days, curtesy the anesthesia department. This was acceptable to hospital personnel. Hey, I came out of it didn’t I?

Good thing I’m an artist — I thought an earlier patient had left animated artworks in that room to entertain the next patient, me. I knew the regular artworks and sometimes discovered more.

Part of me (an itty bitty but real part) still believes in those artworks. In la-la land. In what I connected with. Like Dorothy and Toto in Oz. They knew the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, the Wicked Witch. They knew the Ruby Slippers. They didn’t make those up. But no one back in Kansas will buy it. They’re in a place of knowing what other people don’t, real people don’t. Because they can’t, they didn’t go there.

They stayed home.


I knew I was hallucinating because I’d be having a conversation with somebody, turn my head and speak out loud into the room. So I would shift to normal reality because I was supposed to, because I needed to appear that I knew what they knew was going on.  At the same time as holding to a scrap of over-there. Which quietly attenuated to a wisp. A snap, then a no way back. Until I slipped into it again like into a dream, but through the la-la liminal door.

I want to understand this.

Because I didn’t know what’s what and I did believe hallucinations to be fact (because life has always been fact) and believed that I’m supposed to be tethered to the bed (tho I’ve never been so tethered in my life) and so believed I’m misbehaving when the nurse says that’s now the -teenth time I’ve set off the alarm. Why didn’t they warn me? I woke up amazed and half-hairdo’d. I knew damn well what surgery I’d had but not that my hallucinations weren’t as real as breakfast on a tray. They blended invisibly with gotcha-locked-in-shackles real life.


[note: later when I have complications the doctor kindly works me in, twice. And takes real time explaining things for me. Exactly what you’d want while in your hospital bed.]

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Surgery, pt 2

Digital file, much reduced. 112116 03, by Sloan Nota

Oy, an e-missive from the Patient Site of my healthcare conglomerate.  414 pages of scientific links related to my condition. Hell, Chiari Malformation? if I have it no one has stopped by to tell me about it. Please do not reply to this message, as it is auto-generated.

My two other choices going forward with hydrocephalus? A medication that too often does no good. Or ‘minor brain surgery’ which implants a shunt that will drain excess cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) out from my brain, down a tube to my abdominal cavity (aka belly).

‘Minor brain surgery’ — I’ve heard this from so many voices by now — is my only chance. So let’s look at it. ‘We make s small hole in your cranium.’ The surgeon repeated what I’d read up and down the internet. Small hole.

When I woke up half my head was shaved and a sturdy S curve of stitches had been carved in my scalp. I remarked it looked like a baseball and a surgeon confided they call this the baseball stitch. To think I’m usually reassured by metaphor. Beauty, even recognizability, were of little concern to me. But I was tethered to a hospital bed that would sound an alarm if I tried getting up without assistance. Nurses would come pounding down the hall. Neurosurgery ward, recently fiddled-with craniums. Big falls bad news.

As I will reveal anon, I hallucinated for the first three days.

I learn later that my first stop was a step down unit. After a description I realize it’s where they ease your wacko balloon slowly from the ceiling.

I may have set the alarms off ten times that first night. My bladder had needs. Nurses exasperated. No one had prepped me for this role out of Cuckoo’s Nest.

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Surgery, pt 1


Digital file 042213 35, by Sloan Nota

They draw blood at least once a day. ‘Your sodium is down!’ Sodium pills make you retch? Try them with ice cream  OK, try with applesauce. ‘Your magnesium!’ Another pill. ‘Your potassium!’ A fizzy drink.

At no point was I advised they’d checked my adrenaline levels — which would have been pushing off the charts.

After four or five years of a debilitating condition I get a diagnosis of hydrocephalus. My gait increasingly poor, a spate of urinary incontinence, a degradation of mental powers (‘mild dementia’). Four or five years. Years. And now the choices include Do nothing, just keep on slidin’ off the map. HOW DARE YOU OFFER THAT? No one in their right mind would choose that. Increasingly become a burden to those who love me? Of course they’re just testing to see how selfish I am. They can’t be serious.

Of course I’m 70 y.o. and female. They may be serious.

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Alpha Male


Digital file 042309 54, by Sloan Nota

If you are of an age you remember the searchlights which used to cross in the skies signifying Hollywood! Excitement! The glare that was to draw us palpitating moths to the Ultimate Experience.

Now the world appraises what’s in a ring of searchlights focused down and in. Two world leaders equally crazed are threatening death to enemies. We stare, unable to affect either tantrum. One’s as motherfucking gonzo as his opposite. Mine’s bigger! No, mine is! Men in government is just what we’d be safer without.

Prithee, read history. Who makes peace? Who makes war? Who wants to keep potential equals down?

Would Hillary (or Mabel) be handling missiles as if they were body parts? Ultimately we’re deciding who’s the alpha male. They understand it, so do we.  Though it’s impolite for us girl-types to mention it before they (righteously!) blow us off the map.



To my readers: This site has been having trouble with font size. This is my work-around to avoid an unreadable 30 words per line.


To my

To my readers

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