Where was I? Ah yes, ruminating on my callow youth. Here I was twenty, healthy, working in a laboratory which was a great job for me at the time. No responsibilities but my own self and caring for my own needs. I had money in the bank and a good job and a car—all the things an American youth could desire. Church and the Bible were far from my mind too. I was reveling in the grace and long-suffering of God. I was under his care, I know, this whole time and when he wanted to get my attention, he did.
I was in the middle of a double, I think. It’s a little fuzzy. All those nights of non-sleep were piling up and I was tired. I was the Emergency Room phleb that shift. When they call, you go. You have to go because if someone is in the Emergency Room, its serious—at least it was back then. I got a call to go down and went. It was a car wreck or a heart attack or a child bit by something poisonous, some drunk or needle junkie who needed a stick—steady hands and a sure eye is about all you need to be a good phleb. They needed a test to see if they were going to die from an overdose or if they were pregnant or if they were infectious. That was my job so I went and I did it and I’m off to the lab. So I finish up and I have a tray full of samples and I’m in a hurry so they say, “Hey, can you run this down to the lab?” I’m a heck of a guy so I say, ‘Sure’. I pile it on and go. ‘It’s not fixed,’ she said, which meant that it didn’t have formaldehyde on it, ‘its just saline so make sure the pathologist gets it quickly.’ No sweat. I am a professional.
It so happens that I was used to this sort of thing. It wasn’t a big deal. One time I carried a twelve pound spleen back from surgery. Don’t ask, it was some sort of lymphoma. So a bucket covered with a cloth was no big deal. I get back to the lab and distribute my samples—all of them STAT or critical or otherwise needed immediately. And then I turn to the bucket. I have to check it in because that’s my job. It’s just a sample after all. It was one of those big square emesis basins they give you when you are really queasy, you know the kind right? Sort of the all purpose container of the hospital at large.
Things kind of slow down right here. I take the slip and put it in the clock, all samples have to be clocked in for accountability purposes. I remember the click because right about then I removed the cloth from the specimen. And up until I looked into the basin it was a specimen. A chunk of tissue, a piece of flesh that had been removed from someone’s body. I was USED to it. It happened all the time.