KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf
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Thursday, September 15, 2005

Delayed Reaction

Oh, shit . . . I think I'm gonna be sick. I can't look.

Today, just after lunch, a member of the orthopod's staff removed the splint from my arm. It had been in place since surgery last week, pliable enough to allow for postoperative swelling. Now it had to come off, to be replaced with the hard cast that I'll wear for another 5 weeks.

What was with me today? The removal process didn't hurt, except for one brief, bone-deep, dagger-sharp stab of pain when my arm was moved unexpectedly, so it wasn't that.

I'm not squeamish, so it wasn't that either. As a medical copyeditor, especially one who edits stacks of medical journal articles on arthroplasty (surgical repair or replacement of joints), I am always looking at photos that some might find gruesome, feeling not one bit nauseated.

Around the house, I'm Dr. Mom, diagnosing and treating everyone's aches and pain, from bodily to emotional to educational ailments, so that wasn't the problem.

I looked at my uncovered arm and had a visceral flashback, a body memory: I was back down on the uneven sidewalk in front of my bank, stupefied by pain and struggling not to whimper. Oh my God! A wrist isn't supposed to hang limply like a lifeless fish pasted onto the end of an arm. Why does it look like that?

And then I was back in the present, hearing the woman who'd removed my splint say, "Are you okay?"

This isn't my arm anymore. It doesn't do what I tell it to do. It's this alien thing that somehow wound up attached to me during a nightmare. . . . Hey, wait—nightmare? It was just a fall.

But I edit to live and live to edit. I edit, therefore I exist. And this thing betrayed me. It's not invincible. It's fragile. It stopped working. I could have lost my career because its bones snapped as easily as matchsticks, leaving the muscles unable to lift my hand.

What would I do with myself if I couldn't edit?

Oh, shit . . . I think I'm gonna be sick.

4 comments:

Kelley said...

Hi Kathleen,

Just checked in on your blog since I've finally had a chance to keep up with my blog reading. Sorry to hear about the spill you took. I am there, doing smae currently, though not quite as badly broken.

Hang in there. You're an inspiration.

Kelly

Kelley said...

Well, I guess I should have more coffee. "Hi Katherine". You'd think I'd remember that since it's how my aunt spells her name as well. @@

Kelley

Katharine said...

Heh, heh . . . my parents' plan, 46 years ago, was apparently to confuse everyone by spelling my first name differently. They named me Katharine. That famous Hepburn woman spelled her name the same way.

Katharine said...

P.S. What part of you did you break, Kelley, and how much longer do you have to be in a cast?

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