Once I cracked the bandage, necrotic ooze bubbled out, purulent particulates sprayed the room. The fleshy wound was gnarly; it was black, slimy, and replete with pus. As I kneeled – cleaning the wound – I inhaled rot.
While working, my patient – a paraplegic – feigned interest; this wound, this integumentary black hole, marinated his loin. In his mind, I was just a tourist, a transient healer. I will – just like those before me – irrigate his wound, pack it, and leave.
The wound – a septic time bomb – ticked slowly. I empathetically, but helplessly, cleaned the gangrenous mass. I alone – I knew – couldn’t stop Clostridium.
When finished, I packed my things, shuffled supplies, and dictated; whilst conversing, listening lapsed. The sound waves hit my tympanic membrane, but silence prevailed. In the moment, empathy blanketed my mind. I didn’t – couldn’t – value paraplegia. I wouldn’t – couldn’t – understand.
My patient – a statistic – fought limp limbs; his legs – meaty anchors – didn’t just keep him earthbound, they thwarted time: past, present, and future. In his room – aside his hospital bed – his walls wailed, reflecting a past life once lived. The walls – depressed – were painted with pictures projecting bipedal motion, lost loves, and a life free from debilitation, infection, and affliction.
The patient – now stationary – couldn’t rewrite history.