He must have been about eight at the time. I had made the mistake of watching doctor shows on TV with him and he had probably heard my wife and I describe the challenges of my doctor lifestyle at times over dinner. For the most part, he seemed oblivious and liked the things that most young boys at that age do: sports, jungle gyms, mud, and bicycles, but he had never seen his Dad at work.
So the day came when my wife was doing errands and stopped by the hospital with the kids to drop off my pager which I had inadvertently left at home. As timing would have it, I had just scrubbed in a case, so she was kind enough to bring the pager to the electrophysiology lab control room where the technicians could retrieve it for me. My son, realizing how close he was to my workplace asked within earshot of the technician, “Mom, could I see?” She looked at the technician, and he nodded agreement. Cautiously, they entered the control room just to wave “hi” briefly through the glass.
To a young boy, the lab must have looked like the cockpit of the Starship Enterprise: monitors, switches, microphones, overhead monitors, keyboards, and a large, thick picture window through which he could peer. He stood motionless, transfixed at the sight.
There before him stood a several individuals with masks over their faces and funny bouffant hair pieces with ugly black spectacles on. There was someone else at the other end of the room in a funny multicolored skirt with a mask on, bending over to talk to the big tube above a large blue sheet. Two others stood closer, off to the side of the draped table. One looked a bit like Dad, after all he waved at him briefly with eyes peering over that goofy mask. The other person was a stranger, though – he never saw him before. Both were standing in weird blue gowns over a large sheet with two holes cut in it that was draped over some kind of table. They were working on something and looking at those black and white TV screens. The guy that resembled portions of his Dad handed the stranger a small white object that looked like a small cloth that returned from the circle with a very different reddish color. The thing was contorted as those guys threw them into a small blue bowl on the back table. A few more of these strange blood-stained objects returned from the circle, only to be placed into the same bowl again.
Finally, my son, puzzled but realizing what was happening, leaned quietly over to my wife, eyes fixed on the table, and whispered,
“Hey, Mom, those things in that bowl …
… are those guts?”