Why I Fear Surgeons

Scalpels R UsAn old friend is scheduled for surgery today, so I have scalpels on my mind. This is not a good thing, because if there's one thing I hate, it's the idea of being cut open with a sharp knife. I think it goes back to childhood, when my boyish fascination with knives resulted in more than one self-inflicted injury. My first jackknife closed on my right index finger during an attempt to make a hole in my bedroom wall, and the scar remains to this day.

When I think about hospitals I think about surgeons, and surgeons have very sharp knives. About ten years ago I had a small lump removed from my chest, and although the principles of machismo and stoicism prevented me from shaking and crying as I lay on the paper-covered table, the evidence of my deeply rooted fear of being cut open was impossible to hide when it was all over. Although I somehow managed to keep from wetting my pants, the paper I had been lying on was soaked through.

Dr. Molotov: "I thought you said you were okay with this. You weren't okay at all."

Me: "I think there's something wrong with my sweat glands."

Dr. Molotov: "Get serious. You were sweating bullets!"

Me: "Well, when you started cursing I thought you'd hit an artery or something. I couldn't see what was going on."

Dr. Molotov: "Oh jeez."

Unlike the scar on my finger, the location of Dr. Molotov's handiwork is difficult to discern now. But I haven't set foot in a surgeon's office since, or a hospital; hospitals are known for their high concentration of surgeons, most of whom probably have at least one scalpel. So I avoid those places, but every once in a while I'm reminded of their utility for people who might not function properly if they aren't cut open. I hope I'm not faced with that sort of decision anytime soon, but for my friend—who's probably in pieces by now—it may be the right thing to do. Unless the surgeon accidentally leaves part of his sandwich in there, that is.


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