Mission scrubbed, countdown starts over

My byline appeared in Saturday's edition of the Citizen.

With the column I wrote in last Sunday's paper, it might have caught some of you by surprise.

No, I am not here as the result of some medical miracle. In truth, I really wish I could say that.

In fact, everything started as planned on Monday. The last thing I remember is being positioned on the table in the operating room.

After that, my mind is blank until I woke up in the recovery room. The first thing I remember is opening my eyes and hearing the anesthesiologist say, "Welcome back."

Shortly after that, I knew something wasn't right.

I started thinking maybe I'm really not awake; this is some kind of strange dream while on anesthesia. My mind wandered from there.

Maybe the Steelers didn't win the Super Bowl last night, maybe that was all a dream.

And then, I heard someone say the time was 9:30. At that point, I knew something had happened. I was in recovery way too early.

What did happen was my surgery was stopped. It will take a much more invasive procedure to remove the tumor. It is longer and flatter than it appears.

Strange as it sounds, I've always wondered how astronauts deal with having their mission being scrubbed.

Think about it, you've been training for this opportunity for months, even years, and you're sitting there ready to launch into space and moments, or even seconds, before lift-off a computer reading, weather or some unforeseen factor scrubs the launch.

Now I don't have to wonder anymore, not that I was training like an astronaut. However, there is a certain emotional process you go through as you count down the days.

I was ready for surgery, even more ready after the Steelers rallied to win Super Bowl XVIII. In my mind, it was a good omen. Trust me, your favorite team winning the Super Bowl puts you in good spirits, even if surgery is less than 10 hours away.

Nothing bothered me on Monday, not even getting only a couple hours of sleep before arriving at Emory at 5:30 a.m.

Words to describe how I felt Monday morning after the surgery was stopped are hard to find. I think a giant letdown is the best way to express it.

Walking back into work on Tuesday afternoon was a little surreal. We've done a lot of preparations for my absence here at the Citizen, and now some of them are for naught.

So I'll be around with you a little while longer, probably until Thursday, maybe even a little longer. We'll see, we'll know more Tuesday afternoon.

Having my duties here at the Citizen to keep me busy is not a bad thing as we begin another countdown to surgery.

Still, I don't know how astronauts do it.

So sorry for the confusion. Hopefully, my next mission will go off without a hitch.

Jeff Gillespie can be reached at jeff.gillespie@rockdalecitizen.com.