Thursday, August 28, 2003

74M, Pancreatic Cancer

74M, pancreatic cancer. That's all they told us about him.

But as we unfolded the gauze covering his torso, his limbs, and finally his face, we began to unpeel layers of his story, his life. Small pinprick scars dot his chest--perhaps the result of too much scratching of the uncomfrotable itching caused by his jaundice? A crease running up the left side of his neck--scar from an operation to remove plaque in that area?

He has blue eyes. He has salt and pepper eyebrows. He has about 2 days of stubbly growth on his chin. So real, so...

They suggested we give him a name to make the experience feel more personal, to turn him back into a person instead of just a body, a generous donor instead of a cold cadaver. When we first saw his face (pulling back the gauze so slowly, tentatively, unsure of what we would find, both in him in our own responses to him), Allison said he reminded her of Pablo Neruda. So we named him Pablo.

Welcome to gross anatomy. My name is Pablo, and I will be your guide for the next five months.


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