Filling out the paperwork for my oral surgery, I noticed I was signing a consent form for bone grafting. I had some questions for the person at the desk.
-Uh. Are you taking some of my jaw and putting it somewhere else in my jaw?
-Where do you get the bone for the bone grafting?
-Oh, it’s a pre-treated crushed bone. Sort of like sand we use to fill the space.
-Is it human bone?
-No, it’s cadaver. It’s animal bone.
-… Doesn’t cadaver mean “dead human body?”
-No, I’m pretty sure cadaver is a kind of animal.
In the end, she asked the doctor, who confirmed that it was dead-person sand they were packing in my jaw. This made me feel uncomfortable, and then deeply grateful. Signing that donor card is such an act of grace. I never anticipated needing anything quite so personal from a stranger, but here I am. Since the surgery, I’m carrying something sacred around with me — a little thimbleful of someone else.
Also, my jaw is now certifiably haunted. So if I say something insulting the next time I see you, you can’t necessarily prove it was me. Stupid.