Saturday, May 3, 2008

Scary Books

Once in a blue moon, I find an author quite by accident and devour every single thing that writer has penned. Such was the case with Jeffrey Deaver. A friend gave me A Maiden's Grave which I finished fast and finding myself hooked, proceeded to read every other book he wrote. I usually can't watch the movies made from books like these because frankly, they scare the shit out of me. I'm not one to watch a thriller since the time I watched Psycho while I was home alone babysitting for my cousin. It was years before I could take a shower if I was by myself in the house-and I still lock every door and window before I do. For some reason, I can't get enough of this genre of books. Psychopathic serial killer? Bring it on. True life crime stories? Love them. The movies about people like Jeffrey Dahmer? Uh-uh. They creep me out.

Most of these movies couldn't hold a torch to the book anyway. Hollywood annoys me when they change fundamental features of a character I've read about. Deaver describes his reappearing hero Lincoln Rhyme as a Tom Cruise look alike yet Denzel Washington was cast in this role and this bothers me. Does he look like Denzel or does he look like Tom? Which is it? My mind's eye has already fixed the features of Tom (who I don't really like so it isn't the end of the world) in my memory and now I have to focus on somebody completely different. This tends to ruin the story for me even though we've already established I'm a chicken-shit and not likely to watch it anyway.

Nothing however prepared me for my own flesh and blood bone collector. He didn't look like Deaver's Bone Collector. Angelina Jolie wasn't in hot pursuit with Denzel telling her how to set up and walk the grid to find him. Nothing like that at all. What I had was an obviously insane patient who came to the ER with a raging infection in his foot. Seems he had hacked his toes off with a lawnmower in August. It was now January and he had an incredibly painful infection in his foot. He had not sought medical care when he did this (how do you do that if the mower is being pushed in front of you?), but was seeking it now. Nonchalantly, this person pulls a baggie out of his shirt pocket and asks if I'll need to see his toes. Yep. A baggie full of petrified toes. He had read somewhere that perhaps they could be reattached.

Thinking perhaps I could now retire as I'd seen everything, my patient removed his shoe to show me the offending appendage and I wanted to faint. It wasn't the worst thing I'd ever seen but it was about the nastiest thing I think I've ever smelled. It was gas gangrene. This career of mine sure provides stimuli for all of one's senses. So let's see, it was ugly and dead (a feast for the eyes), it stunk worse than anything I've smelled including dead bowel. When touching it, I felt crepitus which I also heard (think snap, crackle and pop). I drew the line at taste although my olfactory nerve was insulted enough to give me an idea of what that would be like.

What is it that makes a human think and act in such a way? It was an emergency on the day he did it and of course on the day he presented. How in the world did he wait five months to get attention? It beats the hell out of me.

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