Anyway . . .
I've never really considered myself much of a wordsmith (though MomBastard and DadBastard might disagree with me), especially when it comes to speaking aloud. When I write words on the page, however, I somehow (usually) manage to get relatively coherent thoughts from the deepest bowels of my brain onto the paper (virtually speaking), and it occasionally even comes out with some modicum of eloquence (though not in this post, apparently). But sometimes, believe it or not, I find myself at a loss for words. It doesn't happen often, and it always involves something surprising, shocking, or wholly unexpected. When I find myself in this situation, I find it difficult (and sometimes impossible) to express myself. The words which do tumble effortlessly out of my mouth in times like these resemble something a bridge troll might say.
Fortunately Glen (not his real name™) had no such tongue-tying problem.
Most of my patients bring themselves to me. Not literally, of course. What I mean is that most of them have done something that have caused their injury, either directly or indirectly. A select few, however, are actually innocent victims, and through no fault of their own find themselves with a hole in something that needs fixing. Glen fell squarely into that category. He was on his way to his car after finishing his night shift at a store when he was carjacked. He had undergone training at work and was taught to comply with the bad guy, so Glen did everything the bad guy screamed at him to do - get out of the car, hands in the air, give me the keys. But as the bad guy got into his car, he turned around and shot him anyway.
This makes me believe that "mankind" is one of the English language's great oxymorons.
|Approximate location of Glen's wounds|
I explained to him that he may have serious, life-threatening injuries, and he may need a huge life-saving operation depending on what those injuries were. Since he was so stable, I sent him for a CT scan to see where this magic bullet had gone and what it had hit (or not). As the pictures flashed on the screen, the look on my face must have gone from incredulity to amazement and back again. The bullet had gone into the back of his left shoulder (missing his scapula), through his left trapezius muscle, between two ribs (fracturing neither of them), grazed the left lung (which was not collapsed), into the left pectoralis muscle (missing the subclavian artery and vein), through his sternum, through his right pectoralis muscle, and back out into the outside world. Of all the major structures between the two holes, the bullet had hit exactly ZERO of them. All he had was a fractured sternum.
As soon as I finished looking at the scans (and picking my jaw up off the floor), I went to give Glen the news.
"Well Glen, I have some good news and bad news. The good news is that the bullet did no major damage to anything."
"That's great! What's the bad news, Doc?" he said.
"The bad news is that I need to keep you here in the hospital overnight, and you're going to be late for work." I tried to tell him how lucky he was, but my brain locked up. I couldn't think of anything witty or even remotely interesting to say.
"Well ain't that some shit."
Yes, Glen. Yes it is some shit. Those probably aren't exactly the words I would have used, but hell, who needs eloquence anyway.