Op Note XL
The first case I took an intern through a hemorrhoidectomy. Second case was mostly me with a third year patching up a tricky scrotal hernia. Third case another hernia. Same resident. Fourth case I guided a chief through a low anterior resection. She sees it. She’ll be pretty good someday. Fifth case I walked my son through a multivariable algebra problem. Sixth case I sat and listened as my daughter cried. Seventh case I worked on a poem I thought was dead. Eighth case went all night. None of the sutures held. Kept having to re-do it and re-do it until the birds began to sing and I figured out another way. Ninth case was a quickie. Drank a cup of coffee with my mom. Watched her mug trembling in her hands and pretended not to notice. Tenth case felt like a dream. Nothing but downhill spiral staircases and the ghosts were all smiling and sheet-less. Basic blocks of color. Swaths of red yellow purple. Basic shapes. Triangles like how a child would draw. Dumbass squares. Better circles. Because circles are for adults. Muscle memory pulled me through. Otherwise I’d have never woken up. The eleventh case was a beast. Let’s not talk about it. The ache started in my thumb and worked its way up my arm to burrow in the crook of my shoulder. I held on as long as I could. In the end I got a little lucky. Saw something I may have missed ten years ago. It all just fell into place. I forgot about the pain. Or maybe it it just stopped hurting. I’ll take it either way. I pretended not to hear the pissed off ghosts hissing in rage through the tip of the suction device. It would have been a great case to end on. But there was one more. That’s the way it always goes. I’m never one to end on a high note. Something something desultory and humdrum. Not that it didn’t need to be done. Somebody has to do it. That's me raising my hand. For these we don’t bother with music. Adrenaline all gone. Pizza two hours cold. A perfunctory performance we all could have done without. The thirteenth case was the brushing of the teeth the long stare into the mirror the quiet acceptance the not quite giving up the reluctant fade into 4 hours of sleep. Then you go back to zero. Thirteen was a record but the slate just got wiped. You have to start all over again.