I had small surgery last week and that's actually a big thing to say because I subscribe to that old saw that minor surgery is what's performed on everybody else, major surgery is what happens to you. Because I'm something of a medical virgin whose only encounters with the hospital system were long ago brutal battles over inhuman machinery and procedures being used on dying friends and relatives, I was apprehensive to say the least. But now that it's safely past me, there's no way I can claim it was a big deal.
Partly, I'm sure this is because it happened in a small town hospital where everybody is kind and humane and seemingly happy to help. Twenty minutes after I came to, a gentleman volunteer was asking me what I wanted in my coffee and if I wanted a blueberry or cranberry homemade muffin. Twenty minutes before I went under, a male nurse sauntered by and told me he'd had his knee repaired twice. It was a piece of cake, I shouldn't worry.
Actually, I was working very hard on not worrying when I walked into that hospital at 6 AM. I was working hard to be very cheerful, maintaining my best "going to a party" attitude. I was doing that by imagining that I was walking in escorted by caring parents: my guru Thrangu Rinpoche and my protector White Tara. I was muttering mantras. Everything felt very bright and joyful.
The young nurse was cheerful herself at that hour in the morning as I surrendered my clothes and my body. I don't know how we got there within three minutes of personal conversation about her kids and my house but I told her I was doing prayers to the Medicine Buddha and she told me she needed to know more about that because her husband was always telling her she was some kind of self-propelled, self-controlled being who didn't need any outside help, like from God or something. She wanted to know if that made her Buddhist.
I described for her the Medicine Buddha who I was then trying to imagine sitting on my knee pouring his blue light into it. I didn't tell her I was also trying to imagine thousands of mini Medicine Buddhas dancing all around him up and down my right leg. But I was. The glaring white lights of that pre-op room were like disco globes and those little Buddhas were joyously bouncing all over my knee and leg in big swells of blue. I did not feel in any way alone.
Then came that IV drip and I switched to Vajrasattva, drip by drip his white ambrosia purifying my body with each of the syllables in his 100 syllable mantra. Pure and perfect as it is, my body. "The gang's all here," I thought as I was wheeled away into brighter light. "Nothing is going to happen to me. Nothing happens ...nothing happens...nothing happens...."
I woke up as easily and even more fresh than from a sleep or nap. I had no pain, no feeling abnormal in any way. It took a moment to remember because everything had happened so fast. I was out before I knew it and up before I knew it. I was under the surgical knife at 7:30 and drinking coffee with a blueberry muffin at 9:15. I walked to the toilet without help. Everyone had been so kind and smiley. The experience was a joy.
Two weeks before, when I asked him what to do under anesthesia, Rinpoche told me to watch my mind. I really had wanted to do that in the most Mahamudra way, but I went under so fast I don't think I had the chance. Or maybe I was doing it all along?
~Sandy Garson"Wordsmithing to attest how the Dharma saved me from myself!"
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