You know, to someone who managed to spend the first 40+ years of her life staying well, healthy and intact, hospitals are a mysterious place.
Artificially lit caves with tunnels leading to caverns where mysterious rituals are performed by revered Shamen. (Shamans?)
Chambers of beds, muggles gathered, whispering and looking at those waiting to be held, relief evident. Thank goodness it’s not me.
Pristine sheets, acrid air, shuffling paper slippers, hairnets – the modern façade over ancient practices of healing bones, breaking skin, burning lesions.
I had day surgery, once, 16 years ago. I was in and out in 4 hours.
I did the childbirth thing. That did take more than 4 hours, to be sure, but it’s more a women’s ritual, that one. A little more baying at the moon and cursing the husband, primal grunting for a pink bundle at the end.
In the last 3 years I have broken 3 bones and developed a heart arrhythmia, all of which have set me venture past the cave entrance a few times, but not actually into the sacred, sanctioned bowels of the healing practice, where magic gas can make the patient sleep and forget the days. Where holes are cut, blood is spilled. Rather, they kept me just the other side of the automatic doors, treated by (albeit fantastic) Shamans in training.
Not last weekend, however.
Last weekend, I became an offering to a ritual myself.
Suddenly admitted for severe abdominal pain is one thing. Even though I kept saying it was nothing, no one believed me. Bloody Shamans. (Shamen?) Whatever spike was stabbed into my effigy was well and truly inserted. After a few tests, some mumbo jumbo chanting, some shaking of heads, I was admitted into the great chamber of beds where indeed, muggles looked at me with sympathy and relief -thank goodness it’s not me– and the Shaman of choice gave me medicinal herbs to empty out any remains of my last great feast, which was a rocket and bacon Panini around 3 hours earlier. The bowel and stomach cleansing ritual is not something I choose to share here. Let me just say, they are very effective berries.
Within 2 hours, I was finally given a full view of the cavern of the mystic. Wheeled along in a carriage of linen and steel, I feel the gentle breeze of air conditioning as I am pushed – no – hurtled – through double doors that clang closed, shutting out muggles and all that remain.
The great cavern.
In awe, I see the great silver lights, the sterile whiteness of a room which should have been dark, given it’s place in the geographical bowels of the building. Shiny shiny. Silver, white, light. The Shamen, already prepared, their glee at performing another sacred ritual only partially disguised by thin white masks.
“Ooga booga”, they say, as a thin white tube is inserted into my hand and I am carried away to places unseen.
Such is the magic of the Shaman.
Hours later, spirits deliver me back to the cavern. The pain is intense, but as is the way of the Shaman, thin white tubes carry potions of peace. My body rejects the peace potion. It objects to the violation. It objects to he berries and potions. It objects to the magic, mysterious ways ancient time tinged with modern practice and it shudders and shakes and spews forth the Shaman’s medications. The Shaman, calm in his wisdom, waves his hands, utters spells disguised seven syllable medication names, administers a newer life force into the thin white tube.
And days later, when I wake, all is calm, and peaceful once again.
The Shaman has cast aside the evil. The offending, possessed tissue has been removed, plucked from the body, healing, cleansing magic of the drug company creates calm where there was chaos.
Historical readings indicate that when part of a villager was removed for holding evil seed, the removed body part is dried, hung until withered. It is then was used again in effigy, to ward off evil spirit or to case pain and suffering to another. I wonder what effigy is being made of my ovary and uterine tissue.
I hope it brings goodness and peace, not pain to some poor, suffering muggle.
Now, I have seen the inside of the cavern. Like thousands before me, I have beared witness to the magic of the Shamen (Shamans?) and offered myself as a token in the ritual of medicinal magic. And, like the thousands before me, my mind has no recollection of the process which took away part of my insides, protected by skin and tissue for so many years. I sit at home and I heal, bruises turn from black to pink to yellow. Bandages become smaller, pain decreases, the body realigns itself to put muscles and tissues back in rightful places, with a little more room since some internal organs have been removed for more effigial purposes.
I think I will wait another 40+ years before I do it again, thank you.