Saralee Perel

With LUV To Bob, Kate and the Surgeon

When I have just one sip of alcohol, I tell mere acquaintances that I love them. So you can imagine what I’m like under anesthesia. Last month I had an operation. Everything, thank God, turned out fine. But I was a nervous wreck.

As the operating team at UMass Medical Center in Worcester swarmed around me, I pleaded, “I need a lot of anesthesia – I mean A LOT!” Kate was my anesthesiologist. I grabbed her arm. “I mean  . . . ” She started the IV sedation. “I mean  . .  .  I mean  . . .  AH LUV YOUUU  . . .  .”

I had a growth in my uterus that had to be removed. My surgeon came over and asked if I had questions. I looked at him through unfocused eyes, “Do you LUV me?” I slurred.

UMass is a teaching hospital. The surgeon asked my permission to take pictures for his students. “You are a very, very sick man,” I said.

“They won’t show your face,” he said.

“Oh that’s even better, you freak.”

I felt searing pain when they began. “OW! I’m dying here! He’s cutting me open! I need some real strong pain medication! He’s killing me!”

“He hasn’t started yet,” Kate said.

“Oh.” I fell asleep. A few minutes later I woke up and touched Kate’s arm. “You are my very best friend in the whole entire world. I LUV you.”

Later, in the recovery area. I was thrilled to see Bob. I held up my arms, in slow motion, for a hug. We held each other tight. “The doctor told me you were fine and he showed me the pictures,” he said.

“Did he get my good side?”

“You don’t understand. These were medical pictures.”

“Right. You know they’ll be in the National Enquirer next month.”

Then I had a mid-life hot flash. Lying on the gurney, I grabbed the bottom hem of my hospital johnnie. I pulled it up to my forehead to wipe away the sweat, leaving me totally naked. Bob grabbed the johnnie and quickly pulled it back down over me.

“I’m hot!” I said, pulling the johnnie back up to my forehead.

“Everyone can see you!” he said, covering me back up.

“So what?” I said, still under the effects of anesthesia. “What do you think they’ve been doing for the last hour? Looking up my nose?”

He firmly held the gown below my knees, smiling uncomfortably at everyone.

“Yoo hooo!” I waved to my nurse. “I’m ready to go home now.”

She came over. “Can you walk?”

“Can I walk? Watch this.” I rolled to the side of the gurney. I forgot to stop rolling. I hit the floor.

I’ve learned a lot from this experience. Primarily about perspective. If I have a cold, it doesn’t matter. If my truck breaks down, it doesn’t matter. If a repair-person doesn’t show up, well – that still drives me nuts.

But now I worry about what’s next. I suppose there’s always going to be a “what’s next”. I have a pompous acquaintance who’s a psychiatrist. In place of each numeral on his watch is the word, “NOW.” When I first saw that, I wanted to puke. And when I think about it today, I still do. But he’s basically right. So until the next thing hits, I’m luxuriating as much as I can in the “now”. I don’t want to miss any of the good stuff right in front of me, by worrying about things that haven’t happened yet.

Secondly, I will tell my best pal, Bob, that I LUV him. I’ll say it often. After all, we never know what’s next. Other than, “It’s benign,” what better words are there to hear?

Award-winning columnist, Saralee Perel, can be reached at 

Her novel, Raw Nerves, is now available as a paperback and an e-book on