4/14/08 - Injury Updates
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Your "Tebow's Anatomy" theme.
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It's a cruel world. I don't understand it sometimes. Most times, probably. There are these moments I think I have it figured out, and then...well, then you get weeks like this. Seems like just another day. Joking around with the nurse, same old lame flirting - anatomy lessons, secobarbital, the old suture trick for awkward silences, "I'll scratch your inferscapula if you scratch mine." Overtime. Insomnia. Maybe a good day, maybe a bad day.
Next thing you know, some kid's on the table, scared to death, his career may be ruined - you think maybe not, but no, it is. You know all too well it is - and you have to tell him. Right to his face. You have to look him in the eye and you have to say to him, "Look, kid, you had it all. Senior year. High GPA. Family connections. Your whole life in front of you. Your career. You did everything right. You stayed in school. You turned down the money. You just said no to peer pressure. Scrubbed behind your ears. You always wore a condom, if she asked. You did everything anyone ever asked of you. And where did it get you? Wallowing in agony at the feet of some cocky sophomore who couldn't beat out Anthony Morelli. Hey, that's life, kid."
Yeah, keep your chin up. Right alongside your shredded ACL and newfound respect for pitch black irony.
It's the stories that get you. The physical part, that's easy. That I can handle. If it's just cutting, then fine. The hell with it. I can cut. Thirteen hours in, off the call room couch with sixteen minutes' sleep, mind in the clear blue Caribbean one minute, on the staggering humanitarian crisis in Congo the next. I'll cut. I'll go incision for incision, suture for suture, clamp for clamp, patient for patient. I'll go with anybody.
I'll take two at once. I'm ambidextrous - not everywhere, but in the O.R., under the lights, it pays. I'll cut with my toes. And I don't need to know, for example, that this howling mess of a fibula on my left is part of the same backfield as the shoulder on my right, or that they just lost another guy a month ago. I don't need to know. I don't want to know.
A certain desperation, you see, it comes with the territory.
The gore, I can take. Sometimes, diary, I have this dream that I'm repairing the most gruesome injury you can imagine. Wheel that poor bastard in. Show me the remains of his devastated anterior cruciate, posterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments, with probable meniscus damage to the Posterior/Lateral portion of the knee and potentially permanent damage to the neuro-vascular structures, particularly the Popliteal artery and the Peroneal nerve. I dream it. I want it. It tastes like acid on the tip of my tongue.
In the dream, it's perfect. Everything is exact, clean. Textbook. My hands are steady. The scalpel is sharp. It knows it's made of steel and knows its purpose on Earth. It becomes an extension of my arm. Those who doubt me gasp. They are in awe of the precision of my arm.
But when they tell me who he is, I freeze. A Volunteer? The conflict boils within my gut. I'm a man. I'm a Gator. I'm a child of God. I'm a teammate. He missed every game last year with a similar injury. I'm a surgeon, dammit!
In the dream, I choke.
In real life, I don't know. I guess we'll find out soon enough. A loose particle is nothing. Arthroscopic child's play. But maybe I slip. Maybe I get the hiccups. Maybe the nurse starts humming "Rocky Top," and six weeks becomes six months. We're only human, after all.
I'll write again after class, film study, Bible study, a kidney transplant, two C-sections, lunch, practice, a hip replacement, an emergency ischemia, my daily radio address to the campus, racquetball, delivering a sermon on the Good Samaritan, checking the experimental hypoxia tests, presenting erosion control plans to the city council, coordinating Habitat for Humanity's blockwide expansion on Glade Street, transcribing the Inferno in the original Latin and whispering the softest lullabyes in the maternity ward.
- - - Nods on injury detail to Paragon SC.