No sound quite like that gurney

Published 8:00 pm Wednesday, June 5, 2013

It’s hard to explain how swinging at an outside pitch led to X-rays and co-pays and, eventually, out-patient surgery, but it did.

And with that fractured fibula (that’s a leg bone, if you haven’t studied anatomy in a while) our child-raising record of no broken bones was, well, broken, just a week shy of 24 milk-pouring, calcium-fortifying years.

There’s no sound quite like that of a gurney rolling your loved one away for surgery. I admit, the decorators at King’s Daughters Medical Center have done a good job with their palette of soothing greens on the walls and well-cushioned chairs, but there’s just no way to soften that sound of a gurney going, going, gone.

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Something about placing your John Hancock on the highlighted line underscores the gravity of a situation, whether it’s a mortgage or a marriage license you’re signing. Or medical release forms.

King’s Daughters has served my extended family well through births and beyond, providing all the prognoses and procedures that combine to make up a lifetime of health history. In fact, the biography of the man sitting beside me in the waiting room during this last episode would read quite differently were it not for the institution.

In 1939, Dad had an emergency splenectomy at its old location at the corner of North Jackson and West Congress Streets. That was back when medical centers were just hospitals, and primary care physicians were just doctors. He was seven.

From all indications, the surgery was the first of its kind in the area.

At least that’s what Dr. Atkinson told my grandmother, though he would later perform many such operations on wounded soldiers during World War II.

Dr. Atkinson, however, didn’t do my dad’s surgery. Instead, a two-man team from Jackson arrived on a Sunday to do the deed. The patient lost so much blood that my grandfather later lay on a table beside him and gave him some of his own.

In those days, the successful removal of a spleen made the papers, and we have a yellowed, hand-copied account that reported “every effort known to medical science was resorted to, to save (the unfortunate victim’s) life.”

The recuperating youngster remained in bed for 30 days, after which he was allowed to get up – and learn to walk again.

And while it was a bad play that landed my oldest in the ER, in Dad’s case it was a bad mule. And a powerful kick. But he doesn’t place any blame.

“We were making brush brooms. The mule was hooked up to a wagon and must have thought I was going to whack him.”

As a child, I marveled at the scar he sports, seen on rare occasions like when we visited the Moose Lodge pool. Today, watching him eat a Snickers from the cafeteria while we wait, I’m reminded to be thankful for local hospitals.

That’s when we hear it again, turning the corner down the hall, metal wheels marking a rhythm against buffed floors. Only this time it’s coming towards the room, and it’s music to my ears.

You know, there’s no sound quite like that of a gurney rolling your loved one back from surgery.

 Wesson resident Kim Henderson is a freelance writer who writes for The Daily Leader. Contact her at