Part of me wonders if surgeons aren’t just serial killers on the right side of the law. Presumably, their projected outcomes are different. When a surgeon puts the knife to you the goal is to heal, while serial killers are aiming to, well, to kill. Nonetheless, surgery is a highly organized and ritualized endeavor involving knives and costumes.
In any case, I share this gem of an observation in order to give you some context for my confession. I’m a doctor stalker. Only via Google, mind you. It’s all virtual, I swear. But, I’m as fascinated with surgeons as I am with serial killers.
When I was in graduate school, the genre of true crime was my obsession. Ann Rule was my goddess, and Ted Bundy was the killer I knew best.
Favorite tidbit: Bundy worked at a suicide hotline with Rule during the same time a serial killer (he, himself) was terrorizing the Washington area. He walked her to her car at night to keep her “safe.”
I just have to see a paneled van and my blood pressure rises. Honestly, I could have stepped gleefully into the shoes of an FBI profiler.
To make things even more exciting, there was an unknown serial killer at work in Fort Worth when I lived there. I was so swept up in my profiling aspirations, I determined (wrongly, of course) that the guy I was married to at the time was a prime suspect (Don’t know if that tells you more about me or about him.)
I once opened the trunk of the car and saw the bottom half of a “human” torso. I started screaming and couldn’t stop until my friend showed me that it was a table with human “legs.” My ex was in advertising and this was a prop.
Having survived grad school and divorce, I moved on. Since being diagnosed with cancer, my fascination has turned to surgeons. How can you not be fascinated? They use sharp knives on immobilized people while wearing masks. And you pay them to do this.
It’s an odd relationship, really. They see parts of you that no one else has seen. Granted, few people really want to see my bladder or other organs. But still, that’s a pretty intimate view of a person, especially when she’s unconscious.
So, after having surgery a year ago, performed by someone I could not have recognized in Starbucks, I decided to do some reconnaissance. And here’s the problem with doing that when your surgeon, like mine, is very young. Honestly, I wanted to find out about his surgical training, but there’s not much to find. Well, there’s not much of a professional nature to find.
There is, however, a treasure trove of information out there. Like what high school he went to (an online source mentioned his attendance at a reunion). Like who he’s married to (an online source tells who she is, how they met, how he proposed, etc., etc.) Like what he wore to the wedding (he and she were featured in a local ad). Like what his friends look like (his pictures are public on Facebook).
It was like reading an Ann Rule book. I felt disgusted with myself, but I couldn’t tear my eyes away from my laptop. I know totally unhelpful details about this poor guy. His wife’s name, the sport he played in high school, what his brother looks like, where his wedding registry was. He looks much better in a tux than he does in scrubs, by the way. That explains why a woman as drop-dead gorgeous as his wife agreed to marry him.
I guess I gave myself permission to look, to snoop, to stalk, to dig, to look again because he’s threaded a camera through a catheter into my bladder and removed a tumor while I slumbered gracefully in a gown opened down the back and my feet in stirrups.
Thank god he did, of course. I’ll be forever grateful to him.
I just have to be careful to not say things to him that tip my hand. Like, “So, how do you and Sophia like that Weber Performers Series grill?”
And, just for the record, I’ve given up cyber stalking my doctor.
I want to give a special word of thanks to my students in Advanced Writing for reading, responding to, and suggesting changes to this piece in an earlier form. Hope the revision rises to the challeng, guys.
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