Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Road Not Taken

            The Road Not Taken
            I could have been a surgeon. That is one possibility. Political geography, architecture, and anthropology; intense fields of interest. I sigh at lost possibilities.  Now and then I think about them, the latter three.

            Raised when and where I was, none of the above vocations were realistically within my reach. Nurse, secretary, school teacher; my limited options. I didn’t have a passion for any of them but knew the first two were out of the question so settled on the teaching course, at which I was a success, then a failure and once again, a success. Life, eh. Then I went on to other vocations as my life twisted and turned on the roller coaster.

            Back in the Jurassic Times, in high school, we were subjected to a series of tests. One that sticks in my memory showed that among other abilities, I tested high in mechanical aptitude. Made no sense to me. I could give a fig about cars and how they worked. It took years to realize cars, for me, had nothing to do with mechanical ability. Your story may be different.

            It’s true. Often I have an uncanny sense of how things work, how to take apart and put together. At times I’ve been able to make certain items, a wringer washing machine comes to mind, work even better than before it broke down, even with the extra parts left over. I never did figure out the extra parts. However, items frequently have unnecessary extra parts. I’ve assembled hundreds of Christmas toys. Trust me.

            So why surgery? Where there is a need . . . My daughter Dee Dee is plagued with an extremely painful knee. Oh, lord help us, do I ever have experience. My right knee was shattered in a car accident years ago. I had three surgeries in as many years and lived with increasing pain for the next forty-some years. At which time I had knee replacement surgery.

I know how to do this. I have empathy. I don’t want my girl to go through decades of pain.

Knees seem fairly simple. A vertical slice with a sharp knife, roll aside the flesh, saw the top and bottom bones off, throw out the middle section. Replace with a ball joint (I’m sure I can find one in an auto or farm machinery parts store) with a post welded onto each end. Drive the posts into the leg bones, wrap the flesh back around, and fasten the two sides together with hog rings and wait for it to heal. Smear daily with Bag Balm and it will hardly leave a visible scar. Voila, a new knee and no more pain. A simple mechanical solution.

So I told Dee Dee that all we need is a Skil saw, a hot glue gun for cauterization, hog rings and pliers. Her husband Chris joined the conversation and said he had a chain saw. Crude, but it will work. Her father has fencing pliers and hog rings. I have the glue gun.

Dee said she refuses to let Chris and me near each other. Why not? We love her. We want to help.

Of course, we have a few loose ends to tie up. Anesthesia, for example. But, hey, we are talking about the good old Montana frontier do-it-yourself work ethic here. So the good old frontier anesthetic should be good enough. And my daughter is not a drinker, so a small amount of “medication” ought to do the trick. Chris said he’d hold her down.

There is one little bitty drawback to this plan. Blood. Blood renders me unnecessarily and helplessly queasy, particularly my own children’s blood. In fact, back when I was considering the big three decision, nurse, secretary or teacher, blood knocked out the first option without question.

Chris suggested a swig of frontier medication might work wonders on my squeamish stomach before letting Dee Dee finish the bottle. And, of course, historically there is well documented evidence that frontier physicians relied heavily on this self-medication to remedy all manner of social ills. I’m not crazy about that option. But I figure this is just one of the small problems, easily solved.

Let me think on it. After all, surgery is a simple matter of mechanical dexterity. I hope there are not too many extra parts.

Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door

June 18, 2015

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