May 15, 2013
(Read Crazy #1 first!)
“And you must be Peter Weisman,” he says, patting Peter right on top of his head. He must be peeking. Dr. Lang asks Larry to place Peter on what looks like an antique examining table.
“Don’t be frightened young man,” says Dr. Lang, “I promise you that nothing I do will hurt you. Do you understand?”
“I understand,” says Peter. “I believe you.”
Well, that’s one of us, I think to myself, shooting a look at Larry.
“Good,” says Dr. Lang, helping Pete to stretch out on his back on the table. “I’m just going to take off your shoes.” Eyes still clenched closed, he moves unfailingly toward the double-knotted bows on the tops of Pete’s high-top brown Oxfords, and begins to untie and remove his shoes.
“Would you take these please?” He turns and places one shoe neatly in the middle of my hand and turns back to remove the other. "Would you like me to take Peter’s clothes off?” I say what I would say to his pediatrician.
“No thank you, Mrs. Weisman, that won’t be necessary,” says Dr. Lang, flexing his fingers and then swooping them down and up into a pair of imaginary rubber surgical gloves. “Now I shall operate on Peter’s spirit body and attempt to produce a corresponding effect in his physical body.” He passes his gloved hands, palms down, over the lower part of Peter’s body, traveling from waist to knees, to feet and back again, slowly, about two inches above his skin. Peter lies quietly.
Now the weird gets even weirder. The gentle stroking motion ends abruptly and Dr Lang reaches upward into thin air. “Basil,” he says curtly. And then his fingers close around an invisible object invisibly delivered by an invisible surgical assistant named Basil.
With his imaginary scalpel Dr. Lang cuts a fine line of an incision down both of Peter’s legs, from the tops of his thighs to the tops of his toes, about two inches above his skin.
“My legs feel sticky,” says Peter, Larry and I stare at one another in disbelief. Blood is sticky. Maybe imaginary blood is sticky. Maybe he can help Peter.
“I’m increasing the circulation to the lower extremities,” he explains. Then we watch as he threads an invisible needle and sews imaginary stitches. At last, when the “operation” is over, Dr. Lang reaches toward Peter to help him into a seated position.
This is the time and place for a miracle, but it does not happen. Peter does not leap off the table. He does not fly into our arms. Of course he doesn’t. We were crazy to even imagine he might.
Larry picks Peter up off the table. I ask Dr. Lang if he thinks he’s been able to help Peter, although I know the jig is up.
“Of course, I can’t be certain,” he says cheerily, as if our lives didn’t depend on this, “but increasing the circulation of blood into the legs might relieve his condition.”
And then he offers us some post-operative advice. “I know it may not seem as if Peter has been through any sort of tiring experience, but let me assure you he has. I recommend that he rest for at least two hours this afternoon.”
Determined to follow this crazy trail to its bitter, hopeless end, we return to the hotel and put Peter on the bed for a rest. Peter, who hasn’t taken a nap in four years, sleeps for three hours.
Sticky legs. A three-hour nap. Two meager bits of evidence that seem to indicate that something beyond our understanding has taken place that day, but whatever it was, it did not help Peter.
(Both of these “crazy blogs” are taken from my book Intensive Care)