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WHATEVER YOU DESIRE: FOR RICHARD SELZERA PATIENT'S POINT OF VIEW SANFORD TWEEDIE* One Far away, outside the door and down the hall of the hospital, the squeaks begin. Left, right, left, right. Or perhaps, right, left, right, left. I cannot tell. I only know that it is the sound of shoe on floor, bringing the foot strapped inside it and body upon that down the hall to my room. In her arms she carries a tray. Its extra weight alters the squeaks just that much. It is an aide sent with a second breakfast, told to hand-feed me to make sure I eat. Otherwise, I may starve, Har, I laugh to myself—or maybe aloud. Squeak, squeak, squawk. She stops in the doorway. "Who is it?" I ask. "It's me, Mr. Koontz." Only the old, the important and the dying are ever addressed as "Mr.," and I am two of these. "I've got to feed you," she continues. "Oh, no you don't," I say. "Oh, yes I do," she mocks. "Nurse says so." "I want to see a doctor," I say. "Is there anything I can do?" he says, stepping from the doorway. Though I can tell where he stands, his voice does not seem to come from his throat, but from somewhere else, somewhere not quite of this world. "Who are you?" I ask. He doesn't answer. "You can bring me a pair of shoes. A pair that makes some noise." I say. "Whatever you desire," he tells me. *Address: 3240 Hickory Lane, Port Huron, Michigan 48060.© 1982 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved. 003 1-5982/92/3504-0782$01 .00 Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 35, 4 ¦ Summer 1992 617 Two When I am alone, I feel my legs—what's left of them. On the left I'm missing everything below the knee. On the right, there is nothing beyond midthigh. Each was removed when it began to devour itself. Each was removed to keep it from killing me. I will starve first. Besides, the numbness did not stay in my legs. Why would it? It heard that he was coming, the man with the knife, and it packed its bags and headed north. It is in my hands now. Far out, beyond even the very tips. These wounds on my right leg are still fresh, so the doctor must change the dressing continually. He comes when I am in bed. I am always in bed. "How do you feel?" he asks. I do not respond, thinking of my legs, wondering where they are, how they feel. "It's the doctor. How are you doing?" he asks again. He presses the button that lowers the bed. "Down you go," he says, as if he's a carnival ride worker, or a father taking his child from his shoulders. "To where?" I ask. He works on the bandages, cutting them away with scissors. He says nothing. I wonder if this is what it was like in the operating room. Not that I think he used a pair of scissors to cut away my legs, but I wonder if he was so silent. Most likely he talked about the weather, the technique , how the old fart cried when he heard he was going to lose another useless limb. I am sure of it now. I know I heard him talking to others in the room, probably a whole handful of those gawking kids learning how to grip the knife. But now, when I am awake, when he could talk to me, he says nothing. Nor does he stop his work for even a moment so that I can furtively reach down to massage my stumps, to feel their ends in reassurance. In this, is he diligent. Three This much is true. I have been ordering scrambled eggs for breakfast, and when they arrive, I throw them against the wall at the end of the bed. Splat. I am young, a baby. I sit in a high chair. Looking down, the floor is far, far away. My mother is trying to feed me something from a bowl, solid food. "Watch," she...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-8795
Print ISSN
0031-5982
Pages
pp. 617-619
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-07
Open Access
No
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