Imagine yourself in a multiplex movie theater. Curiously, no walls separate the half-dozen theaters that form the multiplex. Miraculously, you are watching six different screens all at once, thoroughly understanding and enjoying every scene, word, character.
Welcome to ADHD.
[You in the Real World, be sure to click on the red underlined hyperlinks!]
Editor’s reminder to all you doubting Thomases: This account, as are all my ADHD Powered columns, is completely true and accurate … including the ending, which even my own lovely Laura questioned.
Editor’s note: Having learned (the ADHD way) that hydraulic log splitters also split fingers, Blackie zips to Wilson Memorial Hospital’s emergency room on Pearl Harbor Day. He meets the distinguished-looking Japanese doctor assigned to his care.
“I’d just like to say I’ve got no hard feelings, sir,” I tactfully say to the well-dressed Asian before me. “In fact, I’m sorry for everybody about the way Pearl Harbor went down.”
“Thank you, Mr. Blackwell,” he responds. “I am Mr. Seoh. Korean. Not Japanese.”
Aren’t you the clever fellow, moans Screen Three rhetorically. Insulting the surgeon before he works on you. What are you thinking?
The gentleman excuses himself and steps away. Two nurses fly to my side. “Do you know who that is?” they ask, irritation flowing through their voices.
“I do now,” I say, embarrassed. “He’s Mr. Seoh, a Korean doctor.”
“No, no, no!” they blast back.
Wait, what? asks Five, himself a wanna-be doctor. Are they saying he’s not a doctor? He’s not Korean? Or both?
“That ‘doctor,’” says the first nurse with dripping sarcasm, “is a world-renowned hand-and-finger reconstruction specialist. He visits our facility today as part of an ongoing comparative tour of American hospitals.”
Well, says Four, at least now we know he’s a doctor.
Yes, interjects Two, but is he really Korean? Nobody’s saying.
The second nurse jumps in. “One of our own doctors saw the X-rays of the damage to your left hand. He immediately took it upon himself to pull Dr. Seoh aside, give him the details of your case, and ask whether our visitor might undertake the tricky surgery.”
Tricky? queries Four. We just need him to put some stuffing back into that flat fifth finger.
Pulverized pinky, corrects Five.
Six thunders, Don’t apologize! Who thinks clearly through blood loss and disappearing digits?
The two nurses walk me to a small operating room and direct me to sit upright on gurney.
Buy stock in these gurneys, prompts Four. You’re on ’em a lot.
Powerfully transformed, Dr. Seoh enters the room in surgical scrubs. I look at the nurses for signs I should stand and salute. The doctor walks up to me, lifts my left hand, sighs heavily –
Why would he do that? questions Three. We’re not anxious enough?
– and says, “We’ll be taking all three.” I ask, “All three what?” He replies, “Fingers.” Stunned, I blurt out, “There are five on that hand.”
“Yes, but middle, ring and pinky fingers all damaged. See X-ray? Two not so crushed as pinky but cannot save.” He grabs a small tool. “First, cut off wedding band.”
“No, no!” I protest. “The ring’s just two weeks old! I could never, ever let you cut it. Give me a moment and I’ll slide it off!”
But I cannot. The splitter – maybe the log itself – “crimped” the ring on my finger, then smashed the ensemble together.
The doctor pulls. I howl, coyote-style, “Cut it off! Cut if off! It’s just a ring!” He grabs a hefty syringe and several times injects my hand, which burns madly.
Ironic, says One, since he’s injecting you with painkiller. Cool thing is that you’ll get to be wide awake and see the whole surgery!
He slides the battered band off in the midst of my extended wail. Two giggling nurses are joined by a third, come to discover the source of the noise.
“And now,” says the calm Korean, “we remove fingers.” Through sleight of hand he produces a tiny saw and begins to cut away the pinky.
I jerk my hand back. He looks up in surprise. “Painkiller not work?”
“No. I mean yes! It’s just … you’re – you’re taking my fingers. FOREVER! Do you – do you know what you’re doing?”
Three nurses gasp in united disbelief. I’ve just verbally slapped a world-renowned surgical specialist. Humble Seoh smiles, answers, “Yes. I see this done on M*A*S*H many times.” Three nurses laugh in united great relief.
Screen Three says, Man’s got style.
“But I’m a southpaw!”
“What is southpaw?”
“I’m a lefty. I do everything with” – I raise my mangled hand – “this one.”
Screen Five is desperate. No way to save them? You’re a great doctor!
In response to my repetition of Five’s words, Seoh bends to put down the saw. Over his shoulder, I see the damning X-ray. He sighs, wipes his glasses, picks up a felt pen and makes black marks on white paper as silence roars. What seems a small lifetime later, he speaks.
“Borrow bones, parts. Pain. Stiff. Maybe not work … maybe fingers go, anyway.”
Yes! shouts Six. Let’s do this, Black. We’re used to pain!
Looking dubious, the nurses immediately flit to Seoh’s side. My six screens offer running commentary though my wide eyes never once wander from the fine, labor-intensive process. The tiny saw claims two-thirds of the poor pinky but comes nowhere near the second and third digits. Uncounted minutes later, the good doctor reviews with me all he’s done to re-engineer three complex human fingers.
He wraps my hand carefully, gently, patiently, speaking English encouragement and Korean kindness. I express my own gratefulness as we sit across from one another, staring at the mummified mess he’s tackled.
Editor’s repetition: Saying it one last time. What follows is absolutely true.
“Well?” Dr. Seoh asks as he signals me to stand and hands me a crumpled wedding ring. “What you think of my work?”
It’s a shame he cannot hear my six screens applauding wildly. “As I said before, sir, I cannot thank you enough for your willingness to scrub up and perform this surgery.” He smiles. “As for what I think of the quality of your work” – I look long enough at the glassware holding the top portion of my pinky to cause him to look there, too – “I left you a tip, didn’t I?”
“Ahh,” he says with laughter. “Good American humor.”
Postscript: Numerous stitches are used in the effort to save my fingers. Three weeks later, I’m in New Jersey for family Christmas, and no doctor will see me. One town over, Overlook Hospital promises to remove all stitches for $100. Mom Blackwell, an advanced paramedic, scoffs and pulls me into the kitchen.
Dr. Mom: Sit down. I’ll take ’em out for you. We’ve done this lots of times.
Screen Five: What she says is true. Your family is a needlework nesting ground.
Blackie: Thinkin’ this isn’t a good idea, Mom. You’re not really a doctor, and these stitches are holding in lots of parts and pieces. What if there’s a complication?
Dr. Mom: Son, stitches are stitches. And I’m a paramedic, which has been good enough for the ambulance people. Besides, haven’t I been helping you break up the scar tissue in your fingers so they’re starting to bend?
Screen Four: No arguing that point, Black.
Mom runs upstairs, grabs the “special paramedic scissors” she owns, returns and unwraps my hand once again. She works one side of the scissors under the tight first stitch and fails to cut through. Again and again she yanks on the scissors fighting the unyielding stitch.
Dr. Mom: Why are you gasping? This is no big deal. You look like you’re going to pass out.
Blackie: I might! All the nerve endings are at the very end of the dwarfed finger! Even your pressing on them hurts.
Dr. Mom: Just need more pressure.
Mom stands – no lie – and angles her body over my shaking hand. Instead of trying to squeeze the scissors shut, she pulls. In multiple directions. I am soaking wet.
Dr. Mom: Gonna get the magnifying class. Be right back. (And she is, peering through the lens.) Now, why aren’t we getting anywhere with this?
Screen Six: Remember her laughter at learning the answer 30 minutes after she started tugging on your tender fingers?
Dr. Mom: Hahahaha! The stitches are stainless steel! I can’t cut these!
Screen One: And you STILL had to pay Overlook Hospital $100 to remove the stitches!
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