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One holds the knife as one holds the bow of a cello or a tulip by the stem. Not palmed nor gripped nor grasped, but lightly, with the tips of the fingers. The knife is not for pressing. It is for drawing across the field of skin.
Like a slender fish, it waits, at the ready, then, go! It darts, followed by a fine wake of red. The flesh parts, falling away to yellow globules of fat. Even now, after so many times, I still marvel at its power-cold, gleaming, silent. More, I am still struck with a kind of dread that it is I in whose hand the blade travels, that my hand is its vehicle, that yet again this terrible steel-bellied thing and I have conspired for a most unnatural purpose, the laying open of the body of a human being.
A stillness settles in my heart and is carried to my hand. It is the quietude of resolve layered over fear. And it is this resolve that lowers us, my knife and me, deeper and deeper into the person beneath. It is an entry into the body that is nothing like a caress; still, it is among the gentlest of acts.
Then stroke and stroke again, and we are joined by other instruments, hemostats and forceps, until the wound blooms with strange flowers whose looped handles fall to the sides in steely array.
There is sound, the tight click of clamps fixing teeth into severed blood vessels, the snuffle and gargle of the suction machine clearing the field of blood for the next stroke, the litany of monosyllables with which one prays his way down and in: And there is color. The green of the cloth, the white of the sponges, the red and yellow of the body.
Beneath the fat lies the fascia, the tough fibrous sheet encasing the muscles. It must be sliced and the red beef of the muscles separated. Now there are retractors to hold apart the wound.
Hands move together, part, weave. We are fully engaged, like children absorbed in a game or the craftsmen of some place like Damascus. The peritoneum, pink and gleaming and membranous, bulges into the wound. It is grasped with forceps, and opened.
For the first time we can see into the cavity of the abdomen. Such a primitive place. One expects to find drawings of buffalo on the walls. The vista is sweetly vulnerable at this moment, a kind of welcoming. An arc of the liver shines high and on the right, like a dark sun.
It laps over the pink sweep of the stomach, from whose lower border the gauzy omentum is draped, and through which veil one sees, sinuous, slow as just-fed snakes, the indolent coils of the intestine.
You tum aside to wash your gloves.
It is a ritual cleansing. One enters this temple doubly washed. Here is man as microcosm, representing in all his parts the earth, perhaps the universe.
I must confess that the priestliness of my profession has ever been impressed on me. In the beginning there are vows, taken with all solemnity.
Then there is the endless harsh novitiate of training, much fatigue, much sacrifice. At last one emerges as celebrant, standing close to the truth lying curtained in the Ark of the body.Alexis Bidagan St.
Martin (April 8, – June 24, ) was a Canadian voyageur who is known for his part in experiments on digestion in humans, conducted on him by the American Army physician William Beaumont between and St. Martin was shot in a near-fatal accident in His wound did not heal fully, leaving an opening into his stomach.
"The Knife" by Richard Selzer. I don’t believe I’ve ever read a doctor’s account of a surgery. I was surprised that Selzer is so sympathetic to the patient’s position.
I would expect a doctor to be comfortable with his tools, but Selzer is as wary of the scalpel as the anesthetized patient on the table. Mortal lessons: notes on the art of surgery/Richard Selzer One holds the knife as one holds the bow of a cello or a rulip-by the stem. Not palmed nor gripped nor grasped, but lightly, with the tips of the fingers.
The knife is not for pressing. It is for drawing across the field of skin. Port Manteaux churns out silly new words when you feed it an idea or two. Enter a word (or two) above and you'll get back a bunch of portmanteaux created by jamming together words that are conceptually related to your inputs..
For example, enter "giraffe" and you'll get . The Doctor Stories is Richard Selzer's selection of his own short stories, culled from three decades of writing, along with two new stories and an introduction detailing his literary beginnings. Drawing from his classic books, Selzer portrays the interactions of people at moments of crisis and drama/5(6).
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