A Chance for Life

A Chance for Life

Copyright © 2019 Farley Dunn

I pushed the clean edges of the wound aside, amazed as I was every time at the striated layers of flesh that formed the human body.

Blood seeped, but not quickly, and I called to Nurse Riley at my side, “Suction, Riley.”

“Yes, Doctor,” she said, as she snapped her gum. That was Riley. The gum was to relieve the stress, and I allowed it as long as she didn’t snap or pop it too loudly or too often.

I looked around the operating theater and took in each person present. Ritchie, our anesthesiologist for the day, watched his readouts. He wouldn’t take his eyes off them until the procedure was complete. The circulating nurse and the surgical tech, Cherise and Mona, I thought, although I didn’t normally associate with them outside the theater, had prepared trays of gleaming instruments ready for my call. I noted the surgical saw. I hoped we didn’t need it.

The one person I didn’t need in the room was the medical device rep. Still, this was experimental, and this was our chance to save a life with a new and untried device. If the rep wasn’t here, the surgery didn’t proceed, so there was nothing I could do there.

At the back, fully dressed in scrubs and ready to either observe or help if called upon were three medical trainees. One I thought might be a resident, but I wasn’t entirely sure. Their faces were mostly covered, and I didn’t know them just by their eyes.

The long incision stretched before me like the Grand Canyon, exposing rivers of arteries and boulders made of flesh and various organs. I held my open palm to Mona and said, “Sonar.” I noticed the device rep as she perked up. She had asked to record the procedure, but that was the line I drew. No recording. No notes. No one to point a finger if this went belly up. The hospital had all the releases in place, and if this didn’t work, well, the man was dead, anyway, in six weeks or two months.

I felt the device in my hand. The long, slender shape of it allowed me to push it into cavities, around organs, and underneath obstructions. Now that I was under the skin, I could go just about anywhere. There was no cord, but the screen overhead brightened with the radio signal emitted by the device. The entire surgical team would see what I saw, but I was in control. It was up to me to find the invasive parasitic nematodes and remove them before they hatched into full-blown Arthriallian Buzzers. Not only were they deadly, but they would shred the body from the inside out in a painful and horrific fashion. No one, least of all me, wanted that.

Here’s the pressure I was under. We all had the nematodes. Everyone on the Station. This man was the earliest diagnosed case. What was happening to him would soon happen in each of us. The hatching, the itching, and the scratching we couldn’t control. Then we would start to bleed, first forming tender bruises and finally leaking from our eyes and noses. The pain would increase until we pleaded for the end. This surgery was our last straw. If this didn’t work, we were doomed.

I pressed the sonar device into the opening, and within moments, a blip appeared on the screen. I pressed a button and the screen flashed. One dead, and a couple thousand to go.