I. Awakening (excerpt)
Memory of some events, whether or not you remember and how much detail you remember is a consequence of how strongly you feel about the thing you remember and or forget. Sometimes, it is helpful or even necessary to forget and it is possible to so completely suppress the memory of an experience that you may not recognize faces or names but the feeling that arises upon seeing the face or hearing the name bubbles up without the locus of the event that caused those feelings and if you are reminded of the event, that feeling will emerge but not the memory of events that caused it.
The photo documentary at this link describes an open heart surgery similar to one that I endured in 1997. Notable differences are in location, since my procedure was done in Oklahoma City, with other medical staff and the basic color tone of the rooms and equipment in Oklahoma was government beige or green, not white.
A difference that had a profound effect on me was in the family and friends present at the event. In the linked documentary, there are supportive friends and family and the wife of the patient is shown kissing the feet of her husband in recovery. In my case, in order to more quickly return from Oklahoma to California following the operation, my fiancé agreed to fuck my brother in return for his replacing her in Oklahoma City.
This wasn’t the first time my brother, four years older, had taken advantage of my weakness and like many victims of familial abuse, I felt ashamed about such events and to confront him meant to admit them. My fiancé was the equal of my brother in this respect. Giving her the benefit of the doubt, she diffused the irony of her agreement with my brother on this occasion by fucking a man she met in the hospital, while the surgeon was sawing my chest in half. A remarkable thing to think about is that I think I had an out-of-body awareness while under anesthetic, which resulted in my becoming conscious, which surprised the surgeon who was cutting my sternum with an electric saw. In the recovery room, I refused to breathe.
The surgeon brought my freshly fucked fiancé into the recovery room and imposed upon her his wish that she try to get me to draw breath. My first fully waking experience following the operation, was the sound of her voice, shouting in my ear, “Breathe, damn it! I didn’t come here so I could go back and tell your mother that you’re dead!” In order for me to hear, pain-erasing medications had been stopped and my next conscious experience, following her shout, was the most painful breath a person has ever taken.
My brother was an inveterate poacher. Since he’s still alive, I can say that without committing another faux pas, speaking about the dead while he is for all I care dead. He seems to enjoy poaching the female companions of men he is closest to. His son, for instance, is the product of his cuckolding the wife of his best friend, when he was at Stanford.
If I’d thought about it when he bragged about his son’s provenance, I’d have run the other way and never trusted him but I didn’t think about it this way because of a peculiarity in our relationship. My mother left my father during the last month of the term of my gestation. She remarried to a Navy career man when I was six but he was far away most of the time until he retired when I was thirteen. During the time, from birth to mid- puberty, my brother was both my sibling rival and the older male figure. He was at times unscrupulous, dispassionate and a malicious physical and psychological bully. I can’t recall a time when he was loving or affectionate. My mother entrusted him with taking care of me, and I have a couple scars, including a scratch on the cornea of my right eye as a result of his care.
My Ross Procedure in 1997 was for these reasons quite different from the one described in the link. There is a point of similarity, it is the reason why relationship and loving support are crucial to nurturing psychological recovery from the terrifying realization of your mortality. It is as if your own body attacked you, followed by a terrible intrusion.
That my brother and fiancé treated me as if I was already dead in view of their history isn’t surprising. It is somewhat surprising that I survived.