Mike Jones MD PhD

Benjamin T. Evans

All rights reserved by the author

 

            Front page of the New York Times: THIRD BOMBING OF A RECONSTRUCTIVE CLINIC THIS YEAR (story continued on page A6). Page A6: Religious extremists are claiming responsibility for yet another bombing of a biomechanical reconstruction clinic outside of Boston today…

Paramedics rushed a heavily sedated eight year old boy through the double doors.

            “He was flown in from Framingham. Mom called 911. Said she didn’t know what happened. Heard a bang and found the kid in the garage holding his arm where his hand was supposed to be.”

            It didn’t much matter what happened In order for the kid to have any kind of remaining function in the hand they gave him the operation needed to happen within the hour. The E.R. jumped to life with ordered chaos. Technicians and doctors moved with machine-like precision.

            An x-ray of the left hand was taken as the right stump was placed in a tray of oxygen rich blood to slow the tissue and nerve death. The computer scanned the x-ray and rendered a 3D model of the hand. Several robotic arms laid down layer after layer of porous synthetic polymer bone until a mirror image of the 3D model appeared. Dr. Jones carefully exposed what was left of the bones in the kid’s arm. Removing chips of bone, soggy paper, and fuse from the wound he got down to solid un-fractured bone. Exposing the bone further Dr. Jones sawed a thirty degree angle in the bone. The synthetic bones were created with an opposing angle to be fitted together. Dr. Jones removed the bone fragment with one hand and without taking his eyes off his work received the synthetic skeletal hand with his other. With steadfast hands he aligned the organic bone with the pilot holes of the artificial. With the same noise every child grows to hate, he drilled through the pilot hole into the living bone. As he placed the screws into the holes and began to tighten them a technician wheeled up a tray filled with hundreds of categorized Electro Active Polymer muscles and tendons. Selecting several E.A.P. muscles and tendons from the tray Dr. Jones attached the muscles to their respective tendons. In order to then attach the E.A.P. muscles to the bone several incisions from the wrist to the elbow were necessary to peel the skin away and expose the remaining muscle. Carefully he severed the tendons connecting each muscle to the bone and removed the long red fibrous muscle replacing it with sleek graphite colored E.A.P. He then connected the artificial tendon to the artificial bone. Using a small battery he touched each E.A.P. and watched the skeletal fingers twitch and contract. Soon, with the aid of silicon chips capable of receiving incoming nerve impulses and translating them into electrical pulses, these muscles would contract with only the will power of the little boy. Dr. Jones set down the battery and went to check on the culture of skin a nurse was preparing, letting a resident sew up the incisions and prepare the boy for days of waiting.

            The small section of skin removed from the boy’s wrist had already shown signs of growth but it would be almost a week before there would be enough to cover the boy’s new hand.

            Biomechanical Reconstruction was rushed through the Department of Health and Human Services much to the thanks of the Chinese American War. Thousands of amputees came off the battle field weekly. It used to be a guaranteed ticket home. Thanks to biomechanical reconstruction they were sent right back into battle within the month. It was perhaps the only advantage we had against the millions of Chinese. Even if they knocked us down we’d come back to hit them twice as hard. That year parents sewed the seeds of hatred into the hearts of many.

            “Look at this, Mike. That little boy whose hand you fixed a couple weeks ago is on the news.”

            Walking into their living room mike looked up to see the testimony of the little boy’s mother.

            “… My little boy wouldn’t hurt a fly. That robotic hand must have malfunctioned. Technology advances so much…” Mike picks up the remote. *click*

            “Does genetic engineering cause cancer? The answer tonight on 20/20…” *click*

“Good afternoon I’m John Brokov and I’m Cindy Louis. Today we look into the story of a man who was brought to the brink of death by a car accident only to become the first person to be over half biomechanical. Religious groups say doctors are playing God. We’ll hear the doctor’s side of the story when we return…”

*CLICK*

            “There’s always something…” Mike said turning to leave.

            “Don’t beat your self up about it. People always need time to adjust to change.”

            Mike left the room uttering, “Yeah,” without looking over his shoulder.

            Biomechanical engineering was one of the most lucrative fields of medicine. Even charging what he thought were completely reasonable rates Mike had quickly grown to be one of the wealthiest men on his cul-de-sac. He and his wife had a large house and they were fortunate enough that his wife had been able to take several years off of work to raise their two kids. The thing Mike like the most was that he had been given the chance to make all the difference in the world to people just like that little boy who he’d given a new hand. It seems playing God had its advantages.

            Mike had been able to save an elderly man who had been hit by a teenager while crossing the street. Mike had needed to replace almost all of the major bones in the man’s left side. Osteoporosis had reduced much of the man’s skeleton to bones so brittle a child could easily break them in two. While in surgery he had to stop severe internal bleeding and replace a lot of lost blood. Half way through the procedure the man had gone into cardiac arrest. The man left two weeks later with an artificial heart that would increase his life span by several years. He died a year later of aggressive prostate cancer.

An article was run in the paper about the miraculous procedure and it had been Mike’s proudest moment. Soon after the article he started receiving letters in his mail box denouncing what he’d done. Old women in quilting circles and bent over men with scowls forever etched in their faces cried foul play. It was “unnatural,” to “play God.”

“When peoples’ time has come, its come. Who are you to go messing around with fate?”

“My son could have come home from the war when he lost his arm. Thanks to doctors like you he was killed when the personnel truck that was carrying him back into battle was attacked.”

Articles to the editor were written putting in their two cents. Mike began overhearing conversations in the supermarket. Two women with strollers gossiped about what they’d heard in church that Sunday about men who scandalously intervened with the Gods will. Sinners would were so corrupt by the Devil that they were attempting to chose when man lives and dies instead of God. What would be next? Would they be bringing people back to life? They marveled at the technology and were afraid of the change.

Mike marveled at them. When he was a child people who got into horrible accidents were forever looked at with pity. People got uncomfortable around them. They scared young children. Sometimes people even wondered what that person had done to deserve such a horrible punishment from God. They were fitted with clumsy almost useless prosthetics that took months to learn how to do tasks that had never needed conscious thought before. Couldn’t people see the good that was being done? Mike wondered if in the next ten years technology would allow him to bring people to life. Would he then be called a necromancer? Would it be presumed that he was dabbling in an art that has been thought for thousands of years to be of the highest evils? What if it was his little girl that died? How could he see anything evil about being able to see her again?

            Getting into his vintage Cadillac he pulled out of the garage and headed for the country. Hypnotized by the passing trees and hills he drove for hours not knowing or caring where the road took him. Each road he took got smaller and finally he lost the pavement. Stopping the car he got out and walked. After walking for a couple hundred meters the woods gave way to a vast asphalt clearing. No cars filled the parking lot. Rows of massive concrete smoke stacks loomed in the distance. Huge tasteless buildings ran parallel to the smokestacks. Mike remembered the project to create a new Super-Plant to accommodate Massachusetts growing energy needs had started after the Big Dig finished almost twenty years behind schedule. Mike couldn’t decide whether it would be more depressing to put the plant in the city where he would be constantly reminded of its enormous monstrosity or to put it out in the country where he knew it would be defiling the pristine landscape.

            Back in his car Mike could only sit. At forty seven and a graduate of MIT he was more confused than he was as a young man. Encroaching darkness signaled the end of his attempted escape from the craziness of the world. Starting up the car he pulled a U-turn going several feet off the other side of the small road. He winced as the expensive car’s bottom scraped across a rock.

            *Click* “Dr. Jones, there’s a young man here to see you.”

            *Click* “Thank you Judy. Please send him in.”

            Moments later the door to his office slowly opened. A tall, athletically build, dark skinned man nervously checked behind him as he walked through the door. The man stood as if contemplating how to proceed.

“Can I help you?”

“Do you know who I am?”

“I’m sorry I don’t.”

“I’m risking everything coming to you. I’ve been the second highest scorer for the NBA for five years. I can’t stand being second best. I want you to give me new muscles. I want to be able to jump higher, run faster, have faster reflexes…”

“I’m sorry you’ve come to the wrong place.”

“I have millions.”

“I help people run and swim and have as much of a normal life as possible. I don’t cater to athletes with inferiority complexes. What you’re asking of me is not only illegal but its extremely unethical. Ya know what? I don’t know whose worse: people like you, or the doctors that would actually help someone like you.”

“So you know someone who would set me up?”

“Get out... now… before I call the police.”

“Hey it’s your loss man. I could ‘a made you rich.”

“Do you know how many people I’ve helped?” He asked looking imploringly at his wife. “I’ve helped hundreds. I’ve been doing this for almost twenty years. I’ve worked so hard and so long because I wanted to help people. I wanted to make a difference. I’m not even sure now if people are worth helping.”

“You know that there are good people in the world. You’d help me wouldn’t you?”

“Of course I would but that’s different. I know you. I’ve known you for almost thirty years.”

“You can’t choose your patients. You just have to treat everyone and hope that the majority of the people you help will use the second chance you give them wisely.”

“I know… It just kills me sometimes.”

            *Click* “Dr. Jones, there’s a young man here to see you.”

            *Click* “Tell him to go away or I’ll call the cops.”

*Click* “He says your more than welcome to, but he still wants to see you.”

            *Click* “Fine, call the cops and send him in.”

            The man threw open the door and strode into the room. His eyes were bright and his expression was masked by his unkempt beard.

            Starting, Mike stammered, “Oh, I’m so sorry; I thought you were someone else.”
            *Click* “Judy, have you called the police yet? Tell them not to come. There was a misunderstanding.”

            The man stood silently at firth and then spoke. “I haven’t had one night of sleep without waking up screaming and soaked in sweat for thirteen years. There is only one way for me to rest and hopefully in the next war they’ll send the injured home.” Saying this he unzipped his jacket and unbuttoned his shirt letting both fall to the floor. Tell tale stitching scars circled his upper arm. Shrapnel scars speckled his chest and neck and disappeared into his thick beard. Around his abdomen was wrapped green block like objects. Wires connected each to the one next to it. C4 was written in darker green on each block. A smile broke the man’s lips.

 

© 2003 by the author

All rights reserved