Squish: A Touching Story

Yesterday, a co-worker of mine sent around this inspiring story of a kid who won a baseball game by hitting a grand slam in the ninth inning. I was so moved by the story that I decided make some adjustments to create a whole new story. The setting and characters have changed, but the message is still the same. I hope you find it inspiring.

In Brooklyn, New York, Squish is a hospital that caters to people with terminal illnesses. Some patients remain in Squish for the duration of their illness while others transfer into conventional hospitals. At a Squish fund-raising dinner the director of Squish delivered a speech that will always be remembered by all who attended.

After extolling the hospital and its dedicated staff he cried out, “Where is the perfection in my doctors? Everything God does is done with perfection. But my doctors cannot understand things as other doctors do. My doctors cannot remember facts and figures as other doctors do. Where is God’s perfection?”

The audience was shocked by the question, pained by the director’s anguish and stilled by the piercing query. “I believe,” the father answered, “that when the state certifies a person to perform medicine the perfection that God seeks is in the way people respond to this doctor’s treatment.”

He then told the following story about one orderly Schlemiel:

One afternoon, the director and Schlemiel talked quietly while the hospital’s surgeons were filing in for a weekly meeting. Schlemiel asked, “Do you think they will let me operate?”

The director knew that this the orderly was not at all capable and that most surgeons would not approve of an orderly performing surgery. But the director also understood that if Schlemiel was chosen to perform an operation, it would give him a comfortable sense of belonging. The director approached one of the surgeons in the meeting room and asked if Schlemiel could try his hand at surgery. The doctor looked around for guidance from his fellow doctors. Getting none, he took matters into his own hands and said “We all have more work than we can handle and the hospital is running low on funds. I guess he can join us and we’ll try to put him to work as soon as possible.”

The director was ecstatic as Schlemiel smiled broadly. Schelmiel was told to get some medical textbooks and spend some time in study. As a month passed, the surgeons worked through much of their case load but there was still more work than they could handle. They managed to hire another surgeon, but the wait times for surgery were still increasing. In addition, one patient needed a heart transplant, but none of the surgeons on staff felt qualified to perform the operation. With nobody else willing to take the case, the director called in Schlemiel. Would the surgeons actually let Schlemiel perform such a dangerous procedure at this juncture and risk being the target off an enormous malpractice suit?

Surprisingly, none of the surgeons objected. Everyone knew that it was all but impossible because Schlemiel didn’t even know how to hold a scalpel properly, let alone cut with it.

However, as Schlemiel stepped up into the operating room, the anesthesist put the patient under so Schlemiel could begin. Schlemiel tried to make his first incision, but unfamiliar with how much pressure to apply, he only managed to scratch the patient’s chest. One of the nurses came up to Schelmiel and together they held the scalpel as they made the incision.

The knife jerked its way up the patient’s chest. Schlemiel didn’t know where to stop so he just kept pulling the knife toward the patient’s head, eventually slicing through the jugular. The nurses sopped up the blood. They knew this patient was going to die. Soon the heart monitor would flatline and Schlemiel’s career as a surgeon would be over.

Instead, the anesthesist took the sensors from the heart monitor and attached them to himself. Everyone started yelling, “Schlemiel, open the chest cavity. Open the chest cavity.” Never in his life had Schlemiel opened a chest cavity. He fiddled with the retractors wide eyed and startled. By the time he figured out some way to use them the patient was dead. The nurses could have told Schlemiel who was still fumbling with the retractors.

But the nurses understood what the anesthesist’s intentions were so they all played along with the charade. Everyone yelled, “Cut the ventricals, cut the ventricals.” Schlemiel started cutting as blood gushed everywhere. As Schlemiel removed the heart, one of the nurses patted the sweat off his forehead with a cloth. She passed him the replacement heart, screaming, “Schlemiel, stitch this in.” Schlemiel stitched the corpse up as best he could. When he finished, all 18 nurses lifted him on their shoulders and made him the hero as he had just performed the hosptial’s first heart transplant.

“That day,” said the director softly with tears now rolling down his face, “that team of nurses and doctors reached their level of God’s perfection.”

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