Fentanyl and Cornbread

She’d thoughtfully put my glasses back on for me, so when I blinked out of the haze after the procedure, I could see the smiling nurse quite clearly.

“All done. Go get yourself that cornbread you’ve been talking about,” she said with a grin.

She’d been inches from my face when the procedure started. “I’m going to watch to see when you get relaxed,” she’d said. I’d done my best to look alert, so I could get more of the fentanyl and midazolam drug cocktail she was injecting into my arm. That trick didn’t fool her. I knew it wouldn’t fool her. I did it anyway.

“Stop trying to keep your eyes open so wide,” she said. Out I went.

Fentanyl. The high-speed race car of a drug that, right now, is killing or nearly killing people across my city who jilted heroin in favor of a better ride.

It’s part of the special sauce that creates “conscious sedation” (“Hello, Office of Oxymoronics?”) shot into me for this routine unfurling of a very long, mercifully thin, lighted hose deployed by a very short, beautiful, Indian doctor who wore six earrings up the edge of her left ear.

I’d asked her if she’d be videotaping the journey through my colon, and if so, could I see it later? No,  but “I can take photographs.” Her face lit up. “I can get some action shots!”

In that moment, I saw, her as the girl she must have been: the absolute best at video games. Time well spent. I would send her parents a thank-you card if I could. I know you wanted her to practice the piano more, but thank you so much for letting her sit on the couch and learn to shoot enemies with a fast flick of her small wrist.

Polyps vanquished. Four full-color action shots, printed out and stapled to my care instructions.

Jews have prayers for everything:

Blessed Are You, King of the Universe, who brought me to a place where the drugs are leaked into my arm by a savvy skinflint who made sure I had my glasses. For a doctor with kind parents, and for that 9 x 9 pan of cornbread waiting at home. Amen.

–Kimberly Marlowe Hartnett

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