My thirteen year-old daughter has a misdirected curvature in her spine, Scoliosis, serious enough to warrant major surgery in two weeks. It is a condition that was diagnosed over a year ago but has continued to get worse and worse. On a Tuesday morning in early February they will slice her open from neck to tail and rearrange her spinal column with steel rods and bone graphs. The prospect is terrifying for all of us. The prognosis is for full recovery, but...
On Thursday of last week, I took her in for some preliminary tests, and to allow them to draw a quantity of blood from her to reuse in surgery if necessary. She was nervous and very much afraid of the process, especially being pierced by a needle. The rosy color drained from her face and she spoke haltingly, hesitantly, almost tearfully.
“Dad, why do I have to do this?”
I had no particularly compelling answer, in fact I had no answer at all. So I did what any Dad worth his salt does: I tried to respond by changing the subject.
“You know what I read in the paper yesterday?” I started.
“I read that many of the doctors and nurses working on the people crushed and maimed in the Haitian earthquake, have no sedatives or pain killers to give to their patients.”
My daughter waited, saying nothing.
“They said that in too many cases, doctors were being forced to remove limbs and to do surgery without any painkillers at all – sometimes out in the middle of the street. One doctor called it being ‘forced to return to Civil War medicine.’”
“And your point is…”
“My point is that we are blessed with the miracle of being able to take a short trip to a clean, modern hospital. For the price of one small pin-prick, 15 minutes in a comfortable chair, and a chilled orange juice to follow, we are able to donate a pint of our own blood, to our own self, to give us the best chance for success in the surgery. We have the finest medical staff, the best equipment and layers and layers of medical support.”
We entered the hospital and completed the paper work. The nurses were ready. On a whim, I volunteered to give blood also, just to keep her company. If they can use my blood for her surgery - if the blood types match up - all for the better. Otherwise, it will be on reserve for the next poor schmuck who runs his car up a tree in the coming weeks… or the next young girl that goes in for surgery.
“See,” I told her as we walked across the parking lot towards our car – eating cookies and drinking orange juice provided by the nurses. The air was cold but the sun was warm. It was almost February.
She said nothing. But I think she understood.
• • •
I was up at 5:00 a.m. this morning to watch an Australian Open tennis match between American Andy Roddick and Fernando Gonzalez of Chile. If you weren’t up at that hour, you missed an amazing piece of camera work.
Between points, the camera zoomed in on a tiny moth resting on the court surface at Gonzalez’s feet. In slow motion it showed the head of the racquet coming down as if to smash the moth.
“Will it be killed?” said the announcer’s voice.
As the racquet neared the moth, it slowed. And then with the slightest flick of the wrist – a delicate movement that only a professional racquetman could make – Gonzalez ever-so-gently nudged the moth, causing it to take flight and fly away.
It was a marvelous piece of art and humanity.
• • •
Have a good day.