May 10, 2006

“Nice lady, but she was not easy. No neck at all.” He tapes the tube securely to her mouth, squeezes the black bag to inflate her lungs, closes her eyes with clear tape.

“Not so easy to find her cricoid either.” The nurse exposes the round belly, and screws up her face. “Belly button clamp, please m’dear.” She reaches out, palm wide open. “Probably for the prep too, but I need to get the top layers.”

A man at the opposite end of the room, working at a covered table of instruments, dark green gown, gloved, masked, blue paper hat, brings to her outstretched hand a 6″ long instrument from his set. “You heard Grace wanted me to translate. I tell her, no, I speak Kurdish, Arabic, some French, but no Bulgarian. She says, ‘They are the same aren’t they?'”

“She didn’t.” The surgeon says, then sees the look from Kamil. “Oh, wait, you said Grace.” He chuckles. He is standing, sterile gloves on, by the prep solutions on a small sterile table.

“This is going to be a doozie, Dr. F.” She pulls lint from the umbilicus. “It’s not just a little bit. She’s got her full 68 years worth in here.”

“Oh, don’t tell me that.”

“Well, the top is black. And, oh, there is more, and more… and more yet.”

She continues cleaning out the incision site. There is quiet in the room, some shuffling around, as she pulls out more organic material. “Aha!”

“What? A Volkswagon?”

“Nearly. An umbilicolith.”

Soft laughter. “Good one. Now, I’m afraid of how many gall stones I’m going to find when we get in there, and you already found one in her belly button.”

“Can I get paid for an umbilicolithectomy?” asks the nurse.

“Not unless you are a Nurse Practitioner, sorry,” says Fishman.

“Can’t you make the incision somewhere else? Isn’t that going to get infected?” asks the scrub tech.

“We can, and with her now, I’ll certainly go above a bit. But especially with her, I gotta know where the anatomy is. That is our safe landmark.”

“And so grandma’s advice to wear clean underwear in case you get into an accident is useless. The ER will cut that off and not notice. What you really got to do is keep your belly button clean, in case they need to do a lap appy, or gall bladder,”the nurse says, crinkling up her nose. “I’m down to the earliest archaeology, and it’s starting to smell.”

“Stop, you’re making us all sick,” says the surgeon.

“Hey, I have an immaculate umbilicus. I’m just telling you what I’m finding in this poor woman.”

“Here, let me do the rest with the prep. Maybe give her some antibiotics. We can’t take an hour just cleaning that out.” He takes over, pouring the pink soap across her abdomen. “I think I am seeing blue sheet. You really weren’t kidding, were you?”

“I never kid about belly buttons. This one, I am going to tell for the rest of my life.

Written by Zhoen of One Word.

Categories: An Opening in the Body Tags:
  1. May 10, 2006 at 7:06 pm

    I do love this piece! After spending the last nine months doing hospital chaplaincy work, I have a much easier time imagining the scene… :-)

  2. May 10, 2006 at 8:10 pm

    When I was a kid, I firmly believed in the existence of a lint gland right above the navel that produces all the lint – B.S. from my father that I took for truth. I didn’t think to question it until sometime in my late teens.

    • January 9, 2013 at 5:08 am

      Posted on incredible, that was a very good read. In coulsncion, someone who actually thinks and understands what they are blogging about. Quite difficult to find of late, especially on the web . I bookmarked your web blog and will make sure to keep coming back here if this is how you always write. thank you, keep it up! .

  3. MB
    May 10, 2006 at 10:43 pm

    This makes me think of watching my younger sister’s umbilical cord fall off. It’s quite a site.

  4. May 11, 2006 at 2:17 am

    I knew from the title that you had written this :-) Well done.

    Must go and wash out mine.

  5. Bill
    May 11, 2006 at 9:51 am

    I just knew you had to contribute to this theme but I am so surprised that you stay on the surface, do not go inside, choosing to keep the body intact. I’m impressed at your moves. Maybe the bellybutton is like the filter screen on a drying machine. Again, I’m so surprised. The humor, the lightness, affection suffuses me due to your withholding of the expected gore.
    I love this topic of opening and how the skin is such a protective sack, doing its all to keep our insides closed off from the outside. We are so much more open on the inside. The small gates of our openings spread open in a branching network to almost every cell inside us. We are openess itself, but for our limiting skin, which you celebrate here.

  6. May 15, 2006 at 6:19 pm

    I’m never having surgery again. The thought of that conversation going on while I’m being artificially kept alive alone will keep me out of the operating room. Also? I’m not bothering with the clean underwear anymore. The tyranny of commands from my youth is over!

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