Tuesday, October 6, 2009

"Surgeon Search - The Decision"

It’s not a murder mystery. It’s not Clue.

“Mr. Boom in the place with the thing.”

But in a way, it is structured like one. As with murder mysteries, there are multiple suspects, each with incriminating possibilities of being “The One”:

“He was always jealous of Nigel.”

As well as evidence ruling them out:

“At the time of the murder, she was seen buying a cumquat.”

My report on our interviews with the three surgeons under consideration to perform my heart upcoming surgery was intended to be objective. But I fear this may not have been the case.

No writer is ever totally objective. Distorting biases inevitably seep in. Even with history, whose intention, at least, is to be objective, you just never know for sure.

I was taught that in the Battle of Hastings in 1066, the Normans defeated the Anglo-Saxons, and that during that battle, the defeated King Harold was shot in the eye.

This little tidbit has always stayed with me. I have a visceral reaction to people being shot in the eye. I’ve had vision problems my whole life, but nothing to equal an arrow in the eye. Of course, it’s possible this eye-maiming incident never took actually place. History is written by the winners. They can say whatever they want. Embellishing to their hearts content.

“Who’s going to stop us?”

“The people who know the truth.”

“We killed them all.”

“No, we didn’t. You see? You’re embellishing already.”

“History is ours to write. The vanquished have been forbidden to own pens.”

And so we get “Harold was shot in the eye.” Which is entirely unverifiable. Maybe Harold was in reality shot “near the eye”, but they said “in the eye”, because it made a more colorful story. Writers do that all the time.

“So what if it0 wasn’t raining. We’ll say it was raining. No! ‘It was coming down in buckets. ’ If we’re lying, we may as well go all the way.”

There’s also the possibility of deliberate bias. Maybe the Battle of Hastings’ “Official Historian” was a relative of the archer.

“My cousin shot King Harold in the eye.”

In the eye, or near the eye.”

In the eye. It’s here in the history book.”

You wrote the history book.”


“You embellished the moment so your cousin will look good.”

“My cousin is a wonderful archer. You know the most amazing part of it? My cousin called the eye!

“That’s over the top.”

“Okay, I’ll leave that out.”

We don’t really know what’s true. I sit in on three surgeon interviews, and, out of fear, or wishful thinking, or whatever, I hear what I want to hear (robotic surgery is less invasive), and I filter out what I don’t (the robotic technique is not reliable in handling emergencies). Later, when I write about it on my blog, the filtered-out information is inevitably dis-included. The Robot Guy seems the obvious choice. And lo and behold, with only my prejudiced reporting to go by, my readers tell me – in overwhelming numbers – to “Go with the Robot Guy.”

Which leaves me concerned that my one-sided reporting drove them to that conclusion.

If this is the case, then I can say with total confidence: I would not make much of a mystery writer.

“The Finger of Guilt points in many directions. But you, sir, are covered in the victim’s blood, you are still holding the murder weapon, and you’re wearing the deceased person’s hat!”

“But it could have been somebody else.”


We’re going with Surgeon Number Three. We believe he is capable, experienced, and his robotic technique promises a shorter (and easier) recovery period.

Our concern, or more precisely my concern, is that this decision may possibly be the product, may well be the product, is unquestionably the product – pick your favorite – of selective evidence.

Well, maybe, maybe not. But, whatever the reason, it’s Surgeon Number Three.

I feel like the “Cowardly Lion” after making a bold pronouncement in The Wizard of Oz.

“Talk me out of it.”
My surgery is scheduled for October 27th. I could be out for a while. I know there are readers who have hopped onto this juggernaut along the way, and have therefore not had the opportunity of enjoying all my posts. You could catch up while I’m gone. Read every single one. But that decision may say more about the condition of your life than about your enthusiasm for my work.

Another option is for longer-time readers to contact me with suggestions concerning your favorite “Posts of the Past.” With my newfound ability to hyperlink, I could then re-publish those stories and present them as The Best of Earl. I’ll throw in some “favorites” of my own, and between us, we could fill it up with gems until my return. (Unless my hiatus is extended, or there aren’t enough gems.)

Sometimes, the titles I choose for my posts are so ingenious, they provide little indication of what they’re about. This makes it harder to find stuff. But I’ll give it my all if you’re interested.

Please let me know.

Thank you, as always, for being there.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your life with us. Good luck on the 27th. I plan to re-read all your blog postings while you're out. But that means you need to get well and return soon.

10570Fan said...

Although I promise faithfully to re-read all your posts - have you given thought to those of us who can actually speed read? Best of luck on the 27th - and HURRY BACK!

Rebecca said...

Wishing you the very best of luck on the 27th. Hope you recover quickly and get back to us with all the scoop on your experience.

Max Clarke said...

It would be fun to read a Best Of Earl series.

Glad you selected Doctor Robby The Robot. I leaned toward the robot approach mainly because doctors don't very concerned about the long-term discomfort that opening the chest can bring about. "I gave you a second life. Yor mother could not do that, not unless she was a surgeon. Because of ME, you can see another sunrise, because of ME, you can laugh and play golf and pay medical bills, all because of ME, and you complain about staples in your chest? How do you know you're alive unless you feel that pain, all because of ME."

Also, you wrote that doctor three had done 150 procedures, that's enough experience.

I look forward to reading your posts after your return.

MikeThe Blogger said...

It is interesting to read about your shopping for a doctor. Does WalMart have discount procedures? Can I get a dozen-pack at Costco? Do they charge for the visit? Does insurance pay for it if they do charge? In Ontario, doctors wouldn't be spending time selling their services, they'd be in the OR doing the operations. With the debate raging in the States about public health care we look on and wonder about the working people, seniors, etc. opposed to it and ask, "Are they nuts?" - Yep, I guess they are. And BTW, I don't think you have made any Tin Man jokes. Best of luck on the 27th. I am sure you will be fine. And I am sure we will read a lot of funny posts about your hospital experiences.

Anonymous said...

I'll miss my daily shot of fresh Pomerantz - but your past writings are definitely worth resavoring (I'm not even sure if that's a word, but you know what I mean), so I'll sip away while you recover. Please know that even people you've never met care deeply that you recover well and quickly. All the best, Karen

Anonymous said...

This may be too inside and/or not worthy of your time or effort (you might have something more important on your mind)...but I've always wondered what you work from before you finish a script. Any chance you might share an outline or notes from the old days (Cosby Show or Major Dad)? (Or do you even go from an outline when you write a script? Maybe you use dozens of post-it notes, in which case...never mind).

growingupartists said...

Maybe you're just meant to die, Earl. Heaven's not such a bad place...better than Hollywood, I'm sure.

thevidiot said...

First off, I want to wish you the best on the 27th. You know if you made the right decision. I had my left knee replaced on July 27 of this year and I knew I had the best surgeon for me when I awakened in the Recovery Room and he was sitting in a chair next to my bed. I have had several surgeries and that has NEVER happened. This guy really cared! I hope for you that your specialist shows the same degree of compassion and care. I will miss your writing but look forward to your return. Oh, and I will be back in California next week after 26 months away. Now I need to find some work! Best of luck!

Willy B. Good said...

I'm glad you went with Dr. Smith as "robotic surgery is less invasive" is a great medical catch phrase. All the best Earl!

Paloma said...

The best of luck on the 27th Earl

Greg Morrow said...

Good luck, Earl. Why don't you publish one of your scripts during your hiatus? I imagine lots of us would really enjoy seeing that.