13 January, 2014

The More Careful Butcher

presented by
Mystic Metals Body Jewelry

The More Careful Butcher

I have no idea how to start this blog today. I'm very tired and my spine hurts like a heretic on the rack during the inquisition. I know; I'll start with New Year bullshit. That's always easy. The start of the year can always provide some unforeseen difficulties. The normalcy of things seems to dissipate quickly solely because a day changed. Strange. We take into our brains a dense portrayal of continuing life, even though, in actuality, not much really changed. It went from Wednesday to Thursday, after all. But the prospect of hope and newness makes that sundown and sunrise a brand new experience unique to the other three hundred and sixty four times it happened that year. It's kind of silly. Still, I do have some changes in mind to make, which makes my disdain for the whole practice moot and hypocritical. Let's talk about something else before I go on about this past year and how shitty it was. You don't want to hear about that. And if you do, you need a hobby. And if reading my blog is your hobby, you need a new hobby.

I read a fascinating article today. Well, I suppose it wasn't fascinating, so much as it was interesting. Resolution #1: Use the right word for the right job. What made the article interesting was my ancillary association to it. I suppose that's good journalism, when the writer can get the reader to actually give a poop about the subject matter on a personal level. That's why I never claimed to be a journalist. Let me just dive into what the hell I'm trying to talk about. Resolution #2: Speak more directly.

Dr. Tyler Koski is a surgeon. He cuts open spines all day and is the co-director of the Northwestern Medicine Spine Center out there in the Chicagoland area. My initial reaction is to hate this guy because he has Dr. preceding his name. And on the whole, I hate doctors. That's a first pitch strike one. Second pitch strike two is that he's a spine doctor, and after getting my spine cut open and poked and fiddled around with, I hate this guy by proxy. The reason why I don't hate Dr. Tyler Koski (aside from never having met the gentleman) is that the third pitch he crushed into a bases clearing home run, well over the wall and into the hands of a ten year old fan who never expected to catch a home run ball, but brings his glove to every game just in case. How did he connect on the third pitch (to continue this pretty poor and dying metaphor)?

For those who have never had their spines cut open, first off, screw you. Secondly, that's awesome that your spine is healthy and also screw you. Thirdly, most times after getting sliced or injected or whatever noodling around is needed inside of your body's most important buttress, you'll get stapled back together. Surgical staples, though probably a very specific thing, are pretty much those big assed industrial metal things that you use to put wood back together, or put into your balls to get on a Jackass style web video. They're mean and beefy, and they do the job pretty well and more quickly than stitches. They heal well, and during the healing, they look pretty boss. That's why all my usernames are Zipperback. I think I had sixteen the last time. Resolution #3: Stay on topic. The problem with surgical staples is that they can decimate your skin, and if you have a tattoo, expect the tattoo to be marred and sometimes ruined. What Dr. Tyler Koski is doing is different.

This cat does about ten surgeries on modified spines and backs a year. He himself is not tattooed, but after the hours spent on spine surgery on a patient, Dr. Tyler Koski will take an extra hour to study the tattoo, understand the art, and carefully suture the skin back together to preserve the modification. This guy is a hero to the community. His quote: “It’s an art form like anything else. And people are proud of them and they are meant to be permanent,”

This is the personal part of the blog. Resolution #4: Stop announcing what I'm doing all the time. I don't have my spine tattooed, though I want to. Badly. The chief reason my back is bare is that I am afraid that I will need another surgery or procedure that will ruin the modification. The chief reason why I want my spine covered is that I hate my spine. It causes me pain and stress, and my relationship with it through these years has been tumultuous at best. I hate my body very much, and the principal reason for my modifications is to cover and decorate my body; I want to make it a more pleasant and comfortable thing to have to be inside of. You move into a house and you hate the paint on the walls. You paint over the walls. Suddenly, you enjoy the space as if it were brand new and the way you've always wanted it. Same thing with modification for me. Especially my spine. Modification for me, in terms of my disability, is a way for me to regain a sense of beauty and self. I can take back my body, and enjoy what I think it ought to be rather than settle for what it is.

This Dr. Tyler Koski is doing that very same thing for his modified patients. He is a hero, not just because he doesn't want to fuck up someone's hard work and art, but because he seems to understand the importance of the tattoo and what it represents to those who wear them. A forward thought for a man whose profession I hate and is often such a personality bereft process of cold and clinical procedure. But what Dr. Tyler Koski is doing is so very much more than not fucking up someone's art. He is allowing them to keep what is obviously very important to them. Anyone who would spend the time and money to get his back covered clearly likes what he has. And the good doctor knows that. He is helping them keep their sense of self and beauty, their comfort in their own skins, and their ability to be unique and at peace with their betraying bodies. Not only is this man repairing the flaws that life has inconsiderately given these people, but he is taking the care and time to not brutalize his patients' beauty.

To be fair, my experiences with the medical profession (physical and psychological) are not ones about which I'd write love letters. If you have Dr. preceding your name, I already hate you. I don't even care if you're a doctor of physics or calculus or fifteenth century Austrian art depicting literary interpretations of Christ. Which I'm sure is a doctorate somewhere. It's a Pavlovian thing, I suppose. But I do have to recognize when one of these cats or kittens in this, my most hated of all professions, is doing something that is preserving the personality and the beauty of the people on whom he or she is working. After years of feeling like a hog with butcher's charcoal lines drawn across my skin, it is refreshing to see that there are doctors who are considering the mind within the meat. In my experience, that is a rarity. Hopefully Dr. Tyler Koski is laying down a standard of consideration to be followed by his colleagues. I understand that these people need to do their jobs and stay focused on the task at hand, which often leaves the personality and the emotions of the patients on the wayside. Resolution #5: Stop saying wayside. However it is those who take the extra consideration of these things that can change the lives for all of forever of their dotted lined pigs on which they work. The butcher may forget about the pig, but the pig will always remember the butcher, and Dr. Tyler Koski is showing that he understands this and is taking steps to be remembered more as a careful craftsman than a deadline meeting butcher. Here's to you, Dr. Tyler Koski. Thank you for renewing my faith in your field. Well, a little bit of renewed faith; let's not go crazy here. Stay beautiful, kids.


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