Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Will It Hurt?
I am lying on the bed in my parent's room. My six year old legs fidget like a frog who has been pinned on his back. My father stands over me and opens a small box of tools by splaying the paper wrapping and spreading it across the night stand.
He gingerly unfolds two thin sheets of wax paper to reveal a set of sterile gloves. He grasps the first on the outer bent lip and pulls his arm through. Using his covered hand he scoops his fingers under the bend of the other glove.
As my father lifts the forceps out of the box a stream of sunlight catches the metal and bounces onto my face, blinding me.
Should I close my eyes yet?
He doesn't answer my question but commands me not to move. He takes a moment to survey the clean line of sutures above my right brow. As he pauses, I feel his breath caress my skin. The faint smell of mustard reminds me of the deli sandwiches we ate an hour before. It intermingles with the acrid perfume of alcohol being applied to my skin.
He squints through his glasses as he approaches my forehead with scissors in one hand and forceps in the other. I shut my lids tightly, waiting for the pain that is sure to come.
His shadow blocks the light from the window and I sense his body leaning over me even though my eyes are closed. He pulls at the edge of the suture with one hand and snips with the other. I feel a sharp sting as my skin leaps to meet the scissors.
Each suture is methodically cut and removed in similar fashion. Minutes later we are finished. I sit up on the bed and smile at my father. He is arranging his tools. He stops what he is doing and reaches up to my face. He cups my chin and gently pushes upward. He surveys his work.
Six months later I will fall and need stitches again. But by then, my father will be dead and I will have to go back to the doctor's office to have them removed.
This memory came flooding back to me the other day as I stood over my own patient with scissors and forceps in hand.
It had been so many years-I had forgotten.
Posted by Jordan Grumet at 5:20 AM