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Bud Grossmann’s
Words of the Week
for the Week of
August 12, 2018

Published as Family History
in a Gramma Letter
dated July 15, 1997

© 1997, 2018 by Bud Grossmann.
All Rights Reserved.


Leviís Jacket, Leviís Jeans (1976)
  Leviís Jacket, Leviís Jeans (1976)
© 1976 by Bud Grossmann

MEDICAL MIRACLE

Tuesday, July 15, 1997

Dear Gramma,

      Motorcycles have twice put me in the hospital. Once I went from motorcycle, to pavement, to ambulance, to medical center. The other time I was able to travel on two wheels all the way to the door of the emergency room. The second trip is the one I want to tell you about today.

      When Fran and I were both going to school in L.A., we owned a quick, little—not so terribly little—street bike, a red Honda 450. (You might remember, Gramma, I rode that motorcycle up to Wisconsin one summer to visit you and Grampa.)

      We had bought the Honda nearly new, and it ran like a champ until the day I suddenly and inexplicably went deaf. Along with my hearing, I seemed to have lost the gyroscopic stability so essential for safe motorcycling. In other words, my bike’s balance seemed to be out of whack. Actually, I could barely walk without tripping over my own feet.

      After two or three days I decided I better see an ear doctor. When I called for an appointment and described my symptoms, the nurse advised me to go without delay to the hospital emergency room. Since the motorcycle seemed the quickest available means for getting there, I strapped on my helmet, carefully climbed into the saddle, and cautiously navigated city streets, instead of taking the Harbor Freeway, to get to the E.R.

      After a short wait, I was beckoned to present myself to the doctor on duty, a youngish man with a sincere and sunny countenance. “So, Mr. Grossmann,” he began, “what brings you here today?”

      “Pardon me?” I asked.

      “WHAT BRINGS YOU HERE TODAY?”

      “Oh,” I said. “A Honda motorcycle.”

      The doctor gave me his What-a-wise-guy look, and then tried again, “AND WHAT SEEMS TO BE YOUR MEDICAL COMPLAINT?”

      “Ah, yes,” I said. “I have suddenly gone deaf. A few days ago, my right ear simply stopped working. I don’t hear so good out of my left ear anyway, and now I’ve lost my sense of balance.”

      “LET’S HAVE A LOOK,” he said. Using a flashlight shaped something like a hammer, he peered into my ear canal and then slid a long set of tweezers down toward the drum. He gave a tug, triumphantly cried “Presto!,” and presented a huge, ugly flake of ear wax for me to admire. My deafness was cured! Elapsed time? I’d say about three minutes, total.

      Hospital sounds surrounded me. Normally the noises might be irritating, but in that moment they seemed sweet music. I heard coughing and crying and the clatter of surgical instruments on stainless steel trays. Running water splashed into a bowl nearby, and a loudspeaker nagged someone to pick up a phone. “How’s that?” exclaimed the doctor, beaming with pride. “I just gave you back your hearing!” he said. “Shouldn’t that be worth about a thousand dollars? How would you price such a miracle?”

      I recall that my mama once told me a person ought to avoid arguments with anyone authorized to place sharp instruments into one’s bodily openings. So I only chuckled and sincerely thanked the kindly physician. Truth was, though—the truth then and the truth now—I calculate the proper price of medical services by a somewhat less liberal standard than the one used by the service providers themselves.

      When the bill arrived, it was not for as much as a thousand bucks. But it was nonetheless sufficient to make me momentarily lose my balance all over again.

                      Love,
                     
Buddy


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