Tuesday, March 27


It feels like coming full circle to pull into the parking lot of the Good Samaritan Wound Clinic. 29 years ago it was the o.b. clinic I attended while expecting the arrival of my first child. I was 20 years old. I was breathlessly excited to become a mother. I politely corrected the young, arrogant interns and nurses every time they suggested I had dropped out of school or didn't have a husband. Waiting seemed intolerable; I was uncomfortable, swollen, and annoyed that I had to wait so long every time for my appointment. It seemed like waiting the 9 months was forever...

Nearly 17 years later, I visited the same building again with my 5 children and my husband. It had become a rehabilitation complex after the old hospital adjacent to it had been torn down and replaced with the new one. We were visiting my dad, a recent paraplegic following surgical complications. The rare times he smiled happened when my children sang for him. I felt like I did a lot of waiting there, too. Waiting for him to acknowledge what a good little family I had. Waiting for him to say he was sorry for leaving us in the divorce. Waiting for him to be a participating grandparent...

Now we have returned to this modest 3 story building for another purpose. Rehabilitation still goes on upstairs, but downstairs is the wound clinic. Our magic man is Dr. Marc Gottlieb. He is one of the most expert plastic surgeons in Arizona for difficult wound care. He is as eccentric as he is gifted. He is comfortable in this building, where he has ready access to everything he could desire to treat literally piles of patients who wait with the patience of Job often as long as 4 or more hours every Friday just for the opportunity to be one appointment closer to healing.

We sit and wait also, noting the faces, bandages and stories of our fellow waiters. They are generally a quiet group. Many are obese, their diabetes preventing their wounds from a normal healing process. Many are elderly or just appear so after years of suffering. Too many are missing a limb, a foot or their fingers. They all notice us.

Asia is noteworthy. She is beautiful. She wears trendy little boxer shorts with comic book heros or some other fun print on them to her clinic appointments so she doesn't have to change her clothes. She laughs quickly, and sometimes jumps into the quiet conversations nearby. They are glad she does, and are anxious to speak to this little beauty. There is not much hesitation in this place for strangers to ask, "What happened to you?" Here they feel welcome to share, and they do. An animal bite, an infection, a fall, an accident.

She is only 17. I can see how her youthfulness lightens the faces of those whose days are quietly blurring one into the next, confined to their wheelchairs or their oxygen machines. Their eyes are not sad, though, and they usually want to give her something. They offer some of their valuable life experience, or advice. They smile, and tell her it will be OK someday. She's going to be just fine. Her leg won't slow her down at all, she'll see. And, they remind her, she does have the best doctor in the world.

I think she is finally beginning to believe them. I have been waiting almost 3 years for this.