Saturday, March 24, 2007

book excerpt: Forever Sweet Sixteen (Part III of III)

Read these first:
book excerpt: Forever Sweet Sixteen (Part I of III)
book excerpt: Forever Sweet Sixteen (Part II of III)

Monday, September 18, 2000

My parents and I drove to Washington Hospital Center early in the morning. I had an appointment to see Dr. M&M, and also to be the recipient of a needle biopsy. Washington Hospital Center, plain and simple, is in the ghetto. As I sat in the back of my dad’s 1996 Chevrolet Astro Minivan, or what I like to call the Big Red Box, I couldn’t help but notice the men sitting idle on their doorsteps. It reminded me of the movie Friday.

Dr. M&M is a famous surgeon who was one of the first to do limb sparing operations for tumors. My grandma even saw him giving an interview on TV right before I met with him. “I really like this guy,” she said.

After an extremely long wait, he opened the door to my room with a slew of doctors. “Hello Benjamin. Hello Mr. and Mrs. Rubenstein. I’m Dr. M&M, and these are some of my colleagues.”

“It’s nice to meet you,” his right-hand man, Dr. Phil, said.

“Has anyone ever told you that you look like Brian Mitchell?” I asked Dr. Phil.

“Who’s Brian Mitchell?”

“He used to return kicks for the Washington Redskins.”

“Oh, I don’t have time to watch sports.”

“Well, you’ve probably seen him in the newspaper.”

“I don’t have time to read the newspaper,” he said jokingly.

“So, I looked at all your scans,” Dr. M&M interrupted, “And you definitely have a tumor growing in your left iliac crest, which is the top part of your hip bone. It’s probably about eight inches long.”

“Eight inches, really?”

“Just think of how big your pelvis is. Your tumor was probably growing for a good six months before you felt anything. Now tell me about the pain you’ve been having.”

I told him all about my pain, from when it started. I told him how it had been getting worse, and now was at the point where I felt pain every step I took. I told him that sometimes it even hurt in a resting position. He pushed around my lower back for a few minutes and drew a dot showing where he wanted the needle to be inserted. He also gave me specific instructions not to run or jump any more since the tumor weakened my hip. When he was done, he sent me back to the large waiting area until they were ready to do my biopsy.

Dr. M&M is fairly old, with white hair and a white mustache. He always wears a suit and walks as if he has the biggest dick in the world. He never smiles, but he has a quality that always makes me feel good – I think it’s his confidence, which seeps out of his pores and into his patients. It isn’t that he thinks he’s the shit; he knows he’s the shit. He never visits patients by himself, but always with a few other doctors. Most of these “students” don’t speak to the patients, but simply stand there and learn the tools of the trade from their teacher. Dr. Phil learned those tools exceptionally well. He was born in Ethiopia, but you’d never know it from his perfect English.

Monday was the start to my seemingly never-ending supply of long waits to see doctors. Luckily for me, I’ve always been patient, so this was never a problem. I waited nearly an hour until they finally called my name and took me back to another room. When I got into the room, they started me on an IV and gave me a ridiculous amount of Valium, which then made me extremely happy. The man performing the procedure and I had a nice little chat. “Okay Ben, I need to push through your bone, so you may hear the hammer. You might feel it, too. Let me know if it hurts.”

I couldn’t feel a damn thing other than pressure. I began to laugh and said, “Yeah, I can hear the hammer grinding into my bone. That’s funny. Hey man, are you hungry?”

“Yeah, I’m getting pretty hungry,” he replied.

“Good, because I’m starving. When we’re done, you and I are going to McDonald’s, my treat.”

“Hey, that sounds good to me.”

The biopsy guy could have chopped off my toe and I would’ve found it hysterical. Sly came over to my house when I got home that afternoon. “Dude, you look so high right now,” he said, seeing that the Valium hadn’t quite worn off.


Anonymous said...

Since this is the last of 3 excerpts, I feel I need to comment. You are an incredibly strong person physically, emotionally, and spiritually (yes, despite the language). When you received the diagnosis, you came home and went to a football game. The day after completing chemo, you dragged yourself to school and even picked up a friend who needed a ride. You berated me for being "mean" to medical personnel who almost cost you your life through medical error. You are an amazing person. Glo from the Minnesota Twins got it right!

J.Fig said...

I love your writing, and always look forward to the new ones. I feel you on the Valium. I once broke a rib in a wrestling tournament in Prague. I was screaming and swearing (mostly at the other wrestler) as they hauled me away. We got to the hospital, they started the Valium drip, and I got fuuucked up. I then became convinced that I too spoke Czech and responded to the doctors by saying, "Heizenvizen schnitzle vizen" Doc was trying his best keep a straight face when I said, very seriously, "Hey man, you Czechs should get back together with Slovakia. Do it for the kids." I laughed for a good 20 minutes. Which hurt my rib, but I was too doped up to care.

So yes, Valium = weeeeeeeee!

Anonymous said...

I continue to send your site to every friend, family member and acquaitance I can think of. Everyone who reads it is hooked. I doubt many will comment, because like me they probably had never visited a blog site before, and they don't have my motivation to figure out the whole comment thing. But they are reading, and sending it on.

Anonymous said...

insert fist pound here...or a high five...whichever you prefer =)

Anonymous said...

TRASH...pure vulgar trash. Your parents should be severly punished for having a son like maybe, just maybe, in the after-life, if there is such a thing, you will be publically, spiritually and MORE physically punished. If not for your morals, for your lack of ethics and have none. May the Devil have mercy on your soul, God doesn't want you.

Clare said...

Ugh. I really remember ripping this guy one, hrm. It was probably deleted. That comment still makes me mad, so round 2.

Anyway. If Ben's parents could not read what is about to follow so I don't feel guilty about saying this in front of someone's mom, that would be great.

Hey anonymous guy. You're a dick head. A complete and utter tool. If anyone should be punished it should be you for having the audacity to look at someone who's been through more in his short life than you ever will.

If God chooses a self important judgmental windbag like you over a person who's overcome unimaginable odds then I for one don't want God.

And furthermore, I can't imagine what his parents went through having a kid with cancer. You can judge his parents all you want but I'll bet you a cookie and a dollar yours are shaking their heads wondering what they did to deserve having a soul less, selfish child such as yourself.

Careful. When you wake up some day and realize that you are all alone in the world and it's your fault, I hope that your God is comfort enough.