Stitches out

May 19th, 2023

Essay 8
Stitches Out

Today I woke early and was dressed by 5:50am. I rolled into the living room with a water, a book, my glasses and phone. I watched the light come up slowly and just sat waiting , meditating, reading…. waiting for 7:45.

My impatience was motivated by the fact that I knew I was getting my big soft cast off my foot at 8am. I craved letting the air hit my skin and was anxious to see how bad the scar was. I wanted to see the healing for myself that had, for the past week, hid behind layer after layer of cotton and gauze.

Scott escorted me unassuming through the halls of his familiar workplace. Without his white coat there were some employees who didn’t know who he was. I noted the part of him that likes to go unnoticed.

I climbed up on the table and the tech kindly began to cut away the cocoon of layers. I peered down my leg at the bruising and the long three-inch scar that will now mark my body for the rest of my life. The stiches are black and make the scar look like a centipede, a part of the skin bulges out and I promise it with my eyes that I will apply the right oils to repair and reconnect the tissue. I feel a little sad, a little nauseous. I lay back.

“What?…WHAT?,” Scott says a bit Long Island, a bit NY, a bit Italian.. “Your fine, fine.. It looks good.. It looks good..”

I wave him over.. I grab his hand

“Be nice.”

“I am being nice..”

“I don’t look at this stuff all day like you. I just need a moment.”

“But your fine.. It looks great..”

“Scott …”

“Ok,OK….” He peers over my foot looking a little closer, considering me. The technician backs up.

“It really looks good hun…your feet don’t even smell.” I was wondering about that. I sit up again. I am getting used to it. The technician prepares to take the stitches out. I know I have to be very cool and brave and pretend it does not hurt. Scott thinks I am tough, Tarantinos are tough, I decide today I will be a Tarantino.

For the most part it does not hurt. The tech says, “Ok this one is the hardest but oh there you go. Ok just a few more” It is so sensitive. I take a deep breath. What I want is for Scott to step in, take the stitches out. But I can’t ask this. The guy is doing great

Even though Scott can be a little brisk with his words, his touch is steady and soft. He wastes no movement. He is stealth. The first time I realized how technically gifted his surgeon hands were was the first day we moved in together. In my rush to get things organized, I knocked over a large, framed print of the anatomy of a man. I bought this print for him for Christmas to celebrate his decision to go into Orthopedics. The frame fell to the ground and glass splattered everywhere. I was so upset that I broke it that I reached too quick and cut my hand leaving glass in the gash.

Because I was barefoot, Scott lifted me quickly right up on the bed. In this one room dorm at Cornell Medical School in NYC, we had a bed, a table and a love seat.. that was it. He grabbed a paper towel, wrapped my hand and had me hold my hand up above my heart and apply pressure. He cleaned up all the glass, even using a wet paper towel to make sure to get all the tiny pieces. He then dug through a box or two to find what he needed.

And though he had touched me a thousand times before, I had never surrendered to him an injury. I watched as he took the glass out and I felt nothing. I didn’t know how he was doing it but his touch was so light, so precise that all I could do was look into his beautiful face. I whelled up..


“You are just very good at this…. You are going to be really really good a this.”

He used some antiseptic, blew on it and placed a good sized band aid on it. “Lay back.. give it a minute.”

And here we were now, many many minutes later.

When my children were born I wanted Scott to catch them. In my wild birthing rage I made him swear not to wear gloves. I wanted my baby to go from the touch of my inner world to the touch of his soft and powerful hands. He really wanted to use gloves. The doctor in him really wanted to use gloves, but I was clear. “My flesh to yours.” I said, “My flesh to yours.”

“But they are slippery hon, the gloves help….”

“My flesh to yours” I snarled. So the first thing my children felt after living in my warm watery world was not cold latex or a stranger but his golden steady warm beautiful hands.

The stiches are out. My foot is orange with iodine and my butterfly stiches hold my black and blue ankle gently together. When we get home Scott says.. “Just let it breathe.” I am letting it breath, letting my skin sigh, letting the little hairs on my legs that have grown move a little bit. I know the minute I slide off this giant bed, our 5th bed since the little bed we shared in NYC, my foot will have to go back into the boot and mostly stay there for 5 more weeks.

Since that first time I hurt myself, we have had many many more times where Scott has taken out his antiseptic, his gauze, his tweezers, his skin glue, his butterfly stiches. He has peered and considered and evaluated dozens of friends and family on the playing field, in our driveway, on our couch and over the phone. Wwth his careful eye and gentle hands he has injected and poked and twisted and prodded. With a quick nod he has sent people to the emergency room or just home to ice, it stay off it, give it time. Once he even stapled Jacks head back together at our kitchen table after Jack split his head doing a back flip off the diving board. Scoot shaved around his cut, and cautioned, “Jack the staples will not hurt but the needle to numb it will. When the needle goes in you can say whatever curse word you want.”

Thinking the worst word he knew was Shit we felt prepared.

The word had gotten out. Neighborhood kids were looking in the porch door at this spectacle of blood and needles and staples. They even knew that Jack had full permission to curse and right in front of his parents to boot. The needle went in and Jack, at 7 years old, let out a mighty and manly “FUCK!”

He hardly felt the staples. He told us he learned the F word from me.

That is no shock.. It is a good word and I love good words. And I have learned to love good hands even more than the right words. But mostly I am lucky to have plenty of both.

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