Acute Post-Operative Complications

About six months ago, I had surgery done on my foot to remove a bone spur.  During the surgery I was given a dose of anesthesia to knock me out and numb the pain.  Since the surgery I have noticed many inconsistencies in the fabric of the universe.  I have come to the conclusion that one of two things took place.  The first possibility is that I am still under anesthesia and currently on the operating table.  For this to be true, the anesthesia would have to have distorted my sense of time and what has felt to me to be two months is actually less than an hour.  The other possibility is that I died on the operating table and this is either a very strange afterlife or I am experiencing an early stage of death in which the images and ideas in my head slowly become distorted as I lose my connection to what we know as reality.

I know this sounds a bit far fetched, but things have been really strange since the anesthesia went into me.  When I was first injected I began to feel extremely sleepy.  I tried to talk but it felt like my mouth was filled with peanut butter.  My eyes closed and all I could hear were the doctor and one of the nurses talking and that dumb song “Life is a Highway” (the surgery center pumped bad pop music into all the operating rooms to “relax” the patients).  I was completely conscious and totally immobile.  The song was making me angry.  Why couldn’t they have anesthetized my ears?  It’s a preposterously stupid metaphor.  What the heck does it mean?  Life goes on for a long time?  Life has exits?  If you stay on life for thirty minutes you can get to the airport?

I’m not certain of how I got home.  It was late in the day.  For the next week I flowed in and out of awareness.  Pain and pain medicine shaped my reality.  I watched the entire first season of the TV show the old CBS show “Wiseguy” on DVD (mercifully, I only remember about ten minutes of it), I ate pizza, I stared at the painting of a woman on the wall and imagined another head growing out of her neck.  I could not shake the feeling that something was wrong.  I chalked the whole thing up to oxycodone-induced weirdness and figured I’d feel normal once I got the stuff out of my system.

Time passed.  My foot began to heal, I started driving again, I went back to work, and I shed my crutches for a boot.  Life resumed, but I could not shake the feeling that the things around me were somehow less real then they had been.  It’s not something I can put accurately into words, but it feels quite real.  The world seemed similar but not the same.

My first visit to the gym was when things started to get really weird.  I slowly moved my way through a few machines and went into the locker room to get the stink off of me.  As I walked past the lockers there was a guy in a speedo who looked almost exactly like the guy who played Father Damien Karass in the Exorcist films.  I had never seen him at the gym before.  He was staring into his open locker and shouting.  Most of what was coming out of his mouth was impossible to understand.  He was raving.  I understood the occasional curse word, but most of it seemed like it was in some weird language that he was making up as he went along.  I averted my eyes away from him and sprinted into the shower.  When I had gotten out, he was quietly staring with this horrible empty expression on his face.  Suddenly, I heard him say in a monotone, semi-possessed voice “Life isn’t a highway, is it Keith?  Is it Keith?  Is it Keith?”

I felt my stomach leap into my throat.   “Excuse me?!?!?!”

He just continued staring blankly into the locker.

“What did you say???”  I repeated in a panic.

He did not respond.

I did not tell the thing about “Life is a Highway” to anyone except my wife.  I strongly doubt that my wife has launched into a criminal conspiracy with some lunatic at the YMCA to drive me crazy so she’ll be able to drive our Saturn more often, so I have to imagine there are strange forces at work here.  But what?  Why?

Every time I see this guy, he hums a bar from it and smiles at me.  He has a sickly, menacing smile.  The type that bankers usually reserve for customers with no hope of getting a loan.  He jogs next to me on the treadmill sometimes.  Humming.  Smiling.  Laughing to himself.

The other day, he walked out of the gym at the same time as me.  He started repeating the phrase “Do you know where we are?  Do you know where we are?  Do YOU know WHERE we ARE?” in strange intonations about five feet away from me.  At first, I sped up, but when he didn’t stop and continued to follow me I knew I had to take some kind of action.  I turned to him and shouted “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?  Why are you bothering me?!?!?!?!”

He looked perplexed.  The man stared blankly into my eyes and began to speak with a voice that betrayed no emotion whatsoever, “Don’t you know where we are?”  He reached slowly into his pocket.  I was terrified.  What was happening?  He grabbed my wrist and shoved a piece of paper in my hand.  With a coy smile, he turned on his heels and stumbled back towards the gym.

Maybe it was some explanation of everything.  Maybe it was a threat. I needed something to make it all make sense.  I swallowed deeply and looked at the piece of paper.  This had to be the answer.  It had to be.  It was a ten percent off coupon for the frozen yogurt store about a mile from my house.  The orange rain began to pour down from the sky, washing away the beautiful blue sunset.  I sat down on the curb next to my car, put my head in my hands and wept.

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  1. #1 by Lee FIFIELD on October 13, 2011 - 10:36 AM

    I think this my be an example of “coincidence”, which is when 2 incidents, which have many unrelated features, have one related feature that more often than not, freak you out.

  2. #4 by afrankangle on October 13, 2011 - 10:57 AM

    Of all days for John to be offline. I hope you make it to that time. Do you realize that a Miniature Mediterranean Donkey has won the Kentucky Derby?

  3. #6 by Jennifer Janson Medordi on October 13, 2011 - 11:38 AM

    Kind of unrelated, but have you checked out the Life on Mars series? I saw the American version (i hear the British version is good too) – it kind of reminds me slightly of this post. The main guy goes through the same type of delusions while trying to figure out where and when he really is. Check it out if you haven’t yet. And go to a new gym.

    • #7 by Keith Spillett on October 13, 2011 - 1:45 PM

      Didn’t know what that show was about, but I am really interested now!

      It’s a great gym all things considered. 2/3s of the blog gets written in its parking lot. If I switched, I think I’d be ruined.

  4. #8 by G-LO on October 13, 2011 - 12:17 PM

    Dude! That guy was just rude. Giving you a Fro-Yo coupon? If he was a real man, he would have just told you to lay off the ice cream and work out a little harder. Making a grown man cry… shame on him!

    • #9 by Keith Spillett on October 13, 2011 - 1:55 PM

      I know, right! I hadn’t had frozen yogurt at the place before and I gotta say I was impressed, but that’s not the point. Getting approached by Satan’s younger brother is simply not a way to get introduced to a yogurt stand. There need to be rules and ethics and whatnot.

      • #10 by G-LO on October 13, 2011 - 8:07 PM

        Damn straight! Whatever happened to manners? Brother of Satan or not, that is no way to behave. The nerve of some people! 😉

  5. #11 by John Erickson on October 13, 2011 - 7:49 PM

    Oh, Keith, you silly boy, you’re just having a little bit of disconnect after the heavy pain meds. That’s all, everything’s okay.
    (Unit 4-7-Niner to Control, we have a RT. Roger, Rogue Thinker on WordPress, name is Spillett, Keith. Yah, the foot surgery guy. Get a response team on him, pronto. 10-4!)
    Nothing at all to worry about, Keith. Just take it nice and easy. No, those definitely are NOT helicopter rotor blades you hear overhead. Just relax, have a good night’s sleep, and you’ll feel MUCH better in the morning.
    (Roger, Control, he’s set up. Lock and load!)
    Pleasant dreams, Keith! 😉

    • #12 by Keith Spillett on October 14, 2011 - 8:34 PM

      Yesterday, I thought I was on Skylab. It’s the water.

  6. #13 by Chris Collision on October 14, 2011 - 12:15 PM

    This happened to me a couple times. I now believe that I have hallucinated everything in my life since either a nitrous binge in 2000 or a nasty bike-wreck concussion in 2004. Including this comment.

    The weird part is gonna turn out to be if I hallucinated the bike wreck *and* the weird bits where I come unstuck in time and go back to the bike wreck *on top of* the weird bits where I come unstuck in time and go back to the nitrous binge, there on the porch on Tybee Island. Layers and layers, wheels within wheels world without end.

    • #14 by Keith Spillett on October 14, 2011 - 8:37 PM

      Tybee Island can have that effect on you regardless of the circumstances. I had a spinach and spleen omelet last time I was there.

      You need to write that story in detail, sir. The world needs it!

  7. #15 by sekanblogger on October 14, 2011 - 8:24 PM

    I work at a State Hospital.
    If you think you’ve EVER seen anything just totally bizarre….
    I can assure you. You’ve only seen a tiny piece of what strange things the human mind is capable of.
    Some episodes are violent, some just sad. Most are, for the lack of a better short description, BIZARRE.

    • #16 by Keith Spillett on October 19, 2011 - 10:06 AM

      I need to visit sometime! Do they charge admission?

  8. #17 by Daniel Pepper on October 16, 2011 - 7:15 AM

    When I read the first part of this blog I thought: “Man Jacobs Ladder is an awesome movie” Take from that what you will.

    • #18 by Keith Spillett on October 16, 2011 - 7:19 AM

      It’s an awesome movie, but it’s a terrible way to spend a weekend.

  9. #19 by Jim Wheeler on October 16, 2011 - 2:38 PM

    @ Keith and whoever else might be interested,

    I have had two experiences which are somewhat related to Keith’s, one direct and one my wife’s. I posted on each at these links:

    http://jwheeler59.wordpress.com/2011/04/21/gone/

    http://jwheeler59.wordpress.com/2010/06/21/its-bedlam-do-you-mind/

    • #20 by Keith Spillett on October 16, 2011 - 4:17 PM

      This is great stuff as always Jim! You never fail to amaze….

  10. #21 by John Erickson on October 16, 2011 - 8:54 PM

    And so to Vegas, to gamble,
    To make a large fortune into a small one.
    Wings that should not fly, brakes that must not break,
    But for a moment.
    Years in duration, millisecond in the making.
    And ground becomes air
    Air becomes fire
    And youth becomes death.
    A great celebration, and a heart-rending wake,
    All as one, twin realities merged as carbon-fibre and titanium,
    Melted in nitro-methane Purgatory.

    IndyCar lost a talented driver and a very good and humble person today. Dan Wheldon is dead, and many others injured, as the great carnival atmosphere of an IndyCar race turned to hushed horror, then to mass mourning.
    How amazing and terrible it is that two disparate realities, of gladiators riding fire-breathing beasts at over 225 mph in choreographed contest, and of shattering cars and flaming fuel and broken bodies, can for one brief point in time occupy the same space.

    • #22 by Keith Spillett on October 19, 2011 - 10:06 AM

      Beautiful stuff John. Breathtakingly sad thing. You summed it up well.

  11. #23 by Keith Spillett on October 19, 2011 - 10:08 AM

    “A hill without an ache is like an ape without sunshine.”
    -VanWent

    “He screams for ice cream.” -Sanity

  12. #24 by Keith Spillett on October 19, 2011 - 10:09 AM

    “To the cast, everything is a broken arm.” -Van Winkle

  13. #25 by Keith Spillett on October 19, 2011 - 10:11 AM

    Blatty had an idea or two. The man wrote about crucifixions on the moon. That buys for more than a dollar or twelve. Nine configurations of the same idea. Plot is only a plot but forever is a mile. -Van Thief

  14. #26 by Mike on October 26, 2011 - 7:31 PM

    If you’re either under anesthesia on the operating table or experiencing a strange afterlife, then this is really weird and disappointing to me to be a figment of your imagination!

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