Rukan, Rocky and I were waiting at a large, busy clinic. It had been discovered that I would need heart surgery for my panic disorder. I was scared and crying. Ru was trying to comfort me. It occurred to me that after the surgery, I would have a scar like Ry, that she’d have someone else in the family who had gone through what she went through; I thought back to Ry’s surgery, and how I had wanted to spare her the knife by going in her place. I tried to find comfort in that. I had my hands over my sternum, my heart’s protection, feeling it whole and unbroken for the last time in my life.
A nurse called me in, and Ry went with me. Ru was somewhere else tending to some sort of responsibility. The nurse led us into a huge white-floored room, filled with animal cages. They were medical test animals. Cages and cages of rabbits, mostly, situated throughout the room, such that we had to navigate through them. The first few cages held rabbits that seemed for the most part all right, at least at the moment. Then we began to pass cages that held animals with devices and wires attached to them, screwed into their bones, getting successively worse the deeper into the room we went. I walked by quickly, my body tense with the horror of it, narrowing my eyes and trying not to see. I told Rocky not to look, and herded her quickly after the nurse.
In the back of the room, I was led to a green, vinyl-cushioned examination table. This was the surgery prep room, where I believed I’d get the anesthesia. I remembered that I had joked that if I was going to get cut into, they’d better at least give me good drugs.
There was music playing. It was horrible and loud, so loud I couldn’t hear anything else, full of cacaphanous noise, voices, squealing electric guitars and a dozen other sounds randomly layered over each other. It was the sound of panic. To my right, I saw another animal test station – two men had a kitten, and they were holding it over a pitching, bucking table. They were tossing the terrified kitten back and forth.
This was the prep. They were testing my level of anxiety, overwhelming my senses with the loud noise, torturing an innocent baby in the name of medical science. I ran over to the table and turned my back on the room, covered my ears with my hands, and began to scream.