Ana muses on describing internal reactions.
Dr. Chen is young, an orthopedic geek who eagerly answers questions by calling up x-ray images. If the clinic computer moves too slowly, he reaches for his smartphone.
When he first read the cat scan images and diagnosed that I had snapped off the head of my radius arm bone when I tripped in the barn, he said, "This is a break that a surgeon sees maybe thirty times in a career."
Fearing my left arm would remain a useless, always-in-pain appendage, I asked if he knew how to fix it.
"No sweat." His eyes shone with eagerness. "Watch this video on UTube. If I can't reattach the head, I'll have every possible artificial part ready when you come to surgery."
I did, and he did.
Turns out I tore a ligament, too. Recovery is longer and more complicated. He spoke to my son and husband when I was in the recovery room. "Don't let her move the arm. If she tries to straighten it, the ligament will tear again. It will be very bad."
At the first follow-up appointment, he showed me x-ray images of my elbow with its new titanium part in various degrees of bending-ness. Even one of my good elbow, "to ensure a perfect match." The images looked exactly like the UTube videos. My elbow can bend. I just can't bend it yet.
"You will," he said with supreme confidence. "That will come during physical therapy."
I was in the care of a master craftsman, and I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I would have an arm again.
As he left the cramped examining room, he put his hand on my shoulder, the injured arm. This brief touch filled me with a feeling I've been trying to describe ever since. Hope. Heal. It's all going to be okay. Yes, it hurts, but that will go away. Don't be afraid. I'm with you.
Thinking back, I almost want to cry, but right then I felt relieved and grateful. Most of all I felt hope. If I do what he says, I will be okay.