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Third Time's the charm

Mason Lange

"Paranoid" Saydie Roling

Hundreds of patients fill the optic surgery floor of the Gonda Building at Mayo Clinic. Most appear to be seventy or older, with wrinkled faces and orthopedic sneakers and bifocals. I am by far the youngest, wearing my joggers and a graphic t-shirt while blasting music nearly full-volume in my air pods in an attempt to alleviate my overwhelming anxiety. Keywords “in an attempt” because nothing is going to make this waiting game better. In the meantime, I bounce my right knee up and down and listen to the senior citizens all too loudly discuss the details of their upcoming appointments.


In an instant, the world around me becomes silent, and I hear what I dread hearing most: my name being called for my third, and hopefully final, eyelid surgery.


The nurse calls my name again. She wears light blue scrubs and her brown hair is tied into a tight bun. My legs quiver as I rise from my seat. I make my way towards her, my dad following close behind me. The nurse leads us through a maze of hallways all covered in sparkling square white tiles that seem neverending. I place each foot perfectly into each tile disregarding every word that comes from her mouth. Each room we pass is identical to the next: bland grey curtains, white tiles, and a large chair in the center of the room. She finally leads us to mine. I release a deep breath from my lungs and reluctantly sit in the chair as I feel the room close in.


In a state of denial, everything around me disappears. The only things left are the thoughts bouncing back and forth in my brain: worry, fear, anger—I feel them in every bone. I raise my hand to my right eye and trace the scar going across my eyelid. Two previous surgeries had been performed in attempts to lessen the drooping, but neither one resulted in success. 


The negativity pours in: the memories of an older boy who made me feel unsightly on the bus, the kids at school, squinting their eyes to make a mockery of me, all the nights I spent crying, feeling as if I could never be as pretty as the girls around me. What hurts the most are all the jokes told by friends. The two previously failed surgeries did not help the hurt. The scar became deeper not only physically, but mentally.  


The nurse enters again. I sit silently as they place small circular pads connected to wires onto my chest. Next, a cold sensation spreads across my hand as she wipes it with a cotton ball dripping with rubbing alcohol. She then reveals a needle, puncturing it deep into my vein. After, I am put into an old squeaky wheelchair and they push me down those same hallways with the white tiles. I can no longer place my feet perfectly into them to stop my worry. 


I am pushed into a larger surgical room, my surgeon waiting for me along with multiple others harassing me with questions. “What’s your name? Date of birth? Which eye will we be performing surgery on today?” My heart pounds and sweat drips down my back as I spit out the answers.


But then it all stops. I relax onto the surgical table as I feel myself drifting off from the concoction of medicines infused into my body. My worry vanishes into thin air. 


I awake as tiredness and pain overwhelm me. I am pushed right back into my miniature room. Moments pass. I raise my head and spot a mirror sitting to the left of me, though I do not want it. I don’t want to know what I look like; I don’t want to feel less than all the other girls all over again.


Then I remember those bus rides with that boy, and all the awful comments made, but I don’t feel the hurt. I feel the happiness from when the older girl next to me stood up for me telling that boy to stop. I feel all the times my mom took her hand and raised it to my face reminding me of the beauty I have not only outside, but in. I realize one small thing will never change who I am or what people will perceive me as. I then pick up that mirror with no hesitation and a smile spreads on my face, my bruised eyelid with purple all around it and stitches all across does not phase me. All I see is a normal girl—beautiful not only outside but inside, too. 

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