The Spiral Path

Photo credit: Ram Joshi

Photo credit:
Ram Joshi

The path to Healing is a slant path, a curved path, a spiral path. The doctors’ scalpels, their lasers, get straight to the problem. But the body heals in curves.

The nurses, having seen hundreds like it, admire the horizontal incision across my chest, “Dr D’s patients always do so WELL!” they exclaim. I, however, am baffled by the new landscape. My head lolls on my neck, chin to my chest as I try to make sense of the ribs, arrayed like speed bumps down one side of my torso.

I’m walking through the woods on a path toward a clearing ahead, a place of warmth and safety. As I enter the clearing, I encounter a brown skinned woman with red mud in her hair. She crouches, holding a pouch of herbs. My internal, eternal, doctor stands in a vertex of time and space. Her people always do well. We do “Well” — as if our lives depended on it.

My head is arched back, my neck over a block of some sort. The anesthesia overcomes me, hypnotic forgetting drugs synthetically erasing the experience of having my throat cut open. Why then, do I remember obsidian scalpels? Why then, floating above my body, which is bound on the table beneath the lights as bright as sunshine, do I remember wanting to scream, and flee?

I stop in at the Ethiopian cafe in my neighborhood. My friend Martha is sporting a new hairstyle, shaved in the back and long bangs combed forward. She and her brother Mengeshaw are telling me about the gamma knife surgery that excised her fourth brain tumor yesterday.

She’s so grateful not to have had full brain radiation, with memory loss, with motor loss, with brain damage, with weeks of lost work, like last time. Mengeshaw is showing me pictures of a medieval metal face mask with screws as long as his forearm. The screws were torqued down through the skin of her forehead and occiput, down to her skull, he explains. He tells me about the cracking sound as the screws were tightened. He told me he was queasy, about to vomit, but didn’t want to worry Martha by making a fuss during the “procedure.” The doctor cheerfully assured him, “that’s the plastic from the mask making all that noise, not her skull!”

Martha lifts her bangs showing me the two round punctures from the screws. The Healing path is a slant path, a curved path, a spiral path.


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