Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Friday, May 18, 2018


CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith & Life for the Years of Winter…


Our optometrist, who is very good at his job, says he went into optometry because he thought blood would be minimal. Good thought.

Blood can be off-putting. Helen’s Uncle Fred was so histo-phobic that he passed out just hearing the word “blood.” That happened once in a high school class, in Monon, IN. The principal came down to his classroom to help revive him. When Fred woke up, the principal said, “Fred, surely you’re not that squeamish about just the word, blood.” Whoops! There went Fred again.

So they learned to call Fred’s older sister, Georgia, who was later Helen’s mother, whenever Fred heard the word “blood.” Needless to say, this was very embarrassing to a high school girl. She never did like Fred much.

Of course, our optometrist had to go through a surgical rotation in med school. The first operation he observed, he didn’t, since he was on the floor.

Reminds me of our daughter Katie’s surgical rotation when she was in nursing school. The surgeon reviewed the staff to get ready, reminding each one of his or her job. “And what will you be doing, Katie?” he asked. She answered, “You mean after I throw up?”

Our optometrist says that surgical people have no mercy on the squeamish among them. They will ride you relentlessly with ridicule for just some little fault like passing out when you see blood.

So he learned some tricks, which I shall pass on to you, not because you are likely to be called on to observe surgery--and if you are, don’t eat Junior Mints during the process [1]—but you may be called on to assist when a family member gets sick, or there is a roadside accident.

I have from time to time wondered what I would do if I were in one of those roadside situations and a woman was having a baby, or someone was badly injured and a doctor had stopped and told me, “Stick your hand into this abdomen and hold that blood vessel closed while I…”

Those things can happen. Charles Ramsey was a medical doctor in Charleston, IL. He had not intended to be an obstetrician, but that became a large part of his general practice. He did his internship at the huge and gritty Cook County Hospital in Chicago. One day he was done with his shift and waiting for the bus. It arrived, and suddenly there was a great rush as everyone on the bus jumped off, including the driver, who saw the young Charles in his scrubs, assumed he was a real doctor, and grabbed him and pushed him onto the bus while saying, “There’s a woman having a baby in there.” He thought, “I don’t know nothin’ ‘bout birthin’ no babies.” [2] But, Dr. Ramsey said, the first delivery he ever saw, he performed, because he had to.

So I’ve assumed that in my more wise senior years, surely I am less squeamish, and if someone said, “The baby’s coming now, and you’ve got to…” or the doctor told me to hold that blood vessel, or do some other frightful thing, I would do it, because I had to, and wait until later to throw up and pass out.

Fortunately, I might be able to pull it off, because our optometrist has given us these tips: 1] Wiggle your toes. It helps to keep conscious and non-nauseated if you can move your body. You can’t dance around in a surgical suite, though, but you can wiggle your toes, and no one can see what you’re doing. 2] Stay involved, so that your mind is busy. Ask a question. Make a statement. Act like you’re interested. Don’t just stand there and think about it.

Not bad advice for life in general.


1] The classic scene in the Seinfeld TV series when Kramer is watching an operation from an overhead observation balcony while eating Junior Mints and drops one into the patient.

2] The classic line spoken by Butterfly McQueen in the movie, “Gone With the Wind.”

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