Operation Dragon

Erasmo Calzadilla

Thinking of the operating room that I was taken to recently, what came to mind was that film by Bruce Lee: Operation Dragon.  In any case, since the operating room seemed like a monster spewing fire from its mouth, even though I knew my condition wasn’t serious, I couldn’t avoid panicking.

“What’s with the trembling, sonny? Is it the cold or fear?” asked a cynic wandering by.

“Both,” I responded between my teeth.

There I was, shitting in my pants with so many lights directed on me, the air conditioning running at full blast, so much equipment all around, and so many people with their faces covered, each one doing something different to me.

I was feeling small, helpless, humiliated, until the light-headedness came, and suddenly bam.  Without realizing it, I lost contact with the outer world, but I continued a chaotic conversation with myself that led me staggering all the way into “the Zone.”

General anesthesia doesn’t cause a loss of consciousness like I had imagined; rather, it’s like flying – a trip.  But a strange trip…at least mine was.

There I was for a while (an eternity seen from the other side) in the same place as always, the place that waits for us, the corner of the truth.  Then I returned half asleep, because waking up from a flight is like to running away in surrender.  The moment arrives when you cross back into the original side remembering almost nothing about what you experienced – thank God (I would say).  (When I’m of this side, “Truth” seems a thing of tyrants.)

Socially Cuba is something similar to what geologists call a zone of faults, a land mass that is hot and disturbed and where everything lies in a state of agitation (pure thermal agitation going nowhere specific, for the time being).

When I was admitted into the Julio Trigo Hospital (one of the worst in Havana), it was in the middle of an argument between paramedics: There wasn’t a bed for me.  The reception area was also amid a controversy between doctors: questions of authority.  Plus, I “woke up” in the middle of another argument between the nurses as I was being thrown around like a “hot potato.”  It was truly stressful (though this doesn’t mean they weren’t good people and competent professionals).

It was as if there was a lack of an authority to put things in their place (and with the knife out front I prefer order and discipline*).  Fortunately everything turned out okay, but a lot of people must have had lesser luck with such Cuban hospitality.

I’ve spent this last week aching in bed, trying not to abuse the sedatives.  However I’ve taken advantage of the time to watch a number of documentaries and movies, to read, and to enjoy friends who come by to see me and take care of me.

I’ve recovered well and quickly, I’m getting ready to climb back onto the back of the beast.

* I believe that independence leader Antonio Maceo was the one who said: “I will not be where order and discipline cannot exist.”


One thought on “Operation Dragon

  • I’m glad to hear you are on the mend, Erasmo! Your experiences at Julio Trigo sound like good raw material for a comedy–and a very dark one at that!
    Some of the nightmarish scenes depicted in the picaresque 17th Century novel I am reading just now, Francisco de Quevedo’s EL BUSCON (“The Swindler”) echo some of the “scene shifting” episodes you describe!

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