“Do You Want to See the Pics?”

My hair stylist here in Seattle is a young Korean man, Dan — very sharp and trendy and his own hair is newly styled and spikey every time I see him. Dan rides a motorcycle. He’s cautious and responsible, wears all the right protective gear, knows how to handle the bike.

The gear probably saved his life when a car made an illegal left turn and hit him at considerable speed. His left leg was torn open from knee to ankle, a devastating injury. He was out for three months: multiple surgeries to repair tendons and ligaments and nerves, extensive soft issue damage, skin grafts, physical therapy. Oddly enough he had no broken bones. He was out of work for three months, and is still using a cane — although he stood for the duration of my color and cut. He said that later in the day he uses a high stool to work on clients.

Of course Dan had pics of the injury taken in real time on his cell phone by his girlfriend in the ER at Harborview, one of Seattle’s best level 1 trauma centers.

After I’d hugged him and said how happy I am that he’s alive and recovered, Dan asked if I’d like to see the pics.

I’m squeamish about this sort of thing. Once I took my mother to the ER in Rochester, and some poor soul was momentarily on a gurney in the hall waiting to be treated for a broken bone protruding from her arm. As we passed by on the way to my mother’s treatment room, I took note of the jagged bone and almost fainted. I’m equally bad with blood, the smell of anesthesia swirling around a patient who’s just had surgery, and stray body fluids of any kind.

“Of course, if you’d like to show them to me.”

The leg wound looked like a dissection, really. Dan’s lower leg was entirely open, with all the structures inside readily visible and brightly bathed in red. I asked Dan if he lost a lot of blood. He first said he didn’t think he lost any, then, looking with me at the pics, said, “Maybe. I don’t know. I was too out of it.”

I suspect this is a life-changing injury, not so much for lingering physical trauma — he’s expected to recover fully and have normal functioning of the leg — but for the fact that death came racing toward him and at the last moment, shied away.

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