1 Voodoolabar

Picnic Party Essay 12 Classic Tattoo

EKG machines and other high-tech medical equipment are common in hospitals across the country. But as accurate and sensitive as they are, they can’t always answer the questions a doctor might have:

The images were dramatic. The young man was in his early 20s, and his shoulders, chest, and upper arms were covered with a swirling image of skulls, barbed wire, spider webs, and violent messages. The tattoos were, no doubt, meant to send a message to anyone who saw them. The images disappeared underneath the hospital gown that had been draped over him.

As a surgeon, I have seen my patients' tattoos become more elaborate over the years. When I was in training, old men often carried blurred and fading souvenir images of sailing vessels, pin-up girls, and birds. Somewhat younger men had blue daggers and women's names on their arms.

As the culture changed, more and more patients displayed an ever expanding range of detailed, colorful images. Some of them are truly striking. I have been moved by memorials to lost friends and children. The pictures are sometimes remarkable and evocative. On the other hand, I have also spotted some apparent world-class lapses in judgment and some unfortunate spelling errors.

I rarely ask patients about their body art. To me, tattoos are rarely conversation-starters like, say, a t-shirt, a jacket, or a carried book. If a favorite sports team proves to be a disappointment, the patient can change sweatshirts. Not so with body art. A sexy woman in a 1940s swimsuit looks a bit incongruous on the atrophic bicep of a 90-year-old man. Since I can never know if the person regrets or celebrates the decision to get the tattoo, I usually leave the discussion alone.

Nevertheless, the artwork often makes me stop and wonder. What story is behind that particular image? What was he or she thinking when they had that done? And, sometimes, that one must have hurt!

So, in the operating room, we gently transferred the unconscious, tattooed young man onto the table. His gown was unsnapped and folded down, then we cautiously removed the hard plastic collar. The nursing staff carefully washed the skin with sterilizing solution. There were several abrasions from the motorcycle accident that had recently broken his neck.

I placed the sterile drapes before performing his tracheotomy. As I did so, I noticed that many of the images had only been sketched and the spaces between them had been incompletely filled with color. Much of the artist's work had been left unfinished, apparently with plans to return for more sessions another day.

I pulled the last of the surgical drapes into position so that only the front of his lower neck was exposed. I wondered if he would ever see the images completed. His life was still a work in progress.

Lake Effect essayist and contributor Doctor Bruce Campbell is a head and neck cancer surgeon at Froedtert Hospital and the Medical College of Wisconsin.  He writes about his experiences in his blog, Reflections in a Head Mirror.

Bruce Campbell reads his essay, "The Tattoo."

First, try refreshing the page and clicking Current Location again. Make sure you click Allow or Grant Permissions if your browser asks for your location. If your browser doesn't ask you, try these steps:

  1. At the top of your Chrome window, near the web address, click the green lock labeled Secure.
  2. In the window that pops up, make sure Location is set to Ask or Allow.
  3. You're good to go! Reload this Yelp page and try your search again.

If you're still having trouble, check out Google's support page. You can also search near a city, place, or address instead.

  1. At the top of your Opera window, near the web address, you should see a gray location pin. Click it.
  2. In the window that pops up, click Clear This Setting
  3. You're good to go! Reload this Yelp page and try your search again.

If you're still having trouble, check out Opera's support page. You can also search near a city, place, or address instead.

  1. Click Safari in the Menu Bar at the top of the screen, then Preferences.
  2. Click the Privacy tab.
  3. Under Website use of location services, click Prompt for each website once each day or Prompt for each website one time only.
  4. MacOS may now prompt you to enable Location Services. If it does, follow its instructions to enable Location Services for Safari.
  5. Close the Privacy menu and refresh the page. Try using Current Location search again. If it works, great! If not, read on for more instructions.
  6. Back in the Privacy dialog, Click Manage Website Data... and type yelp.com into the search bar.
  7. Click the yelp.com entry and click Remove.
  8. You're good to go! Close the Settings tab, reload this Yelp page, and try your search again.

If you're still having trouble, check out Safari's support page. You can also search near a city, place, or address instead.

  1. At the top of your Firefox window, to the left of the web address, you should see a green lock. Click it.
  2. In the window that pops up, you should see Blocked or Blocked Temporarily next to Access Your Location. Click the x next to this line.
  3. You're good to go! Refresh this Yelp page and try your search again.

If you're still having trouble, check out Firefox's support page. You can also search near a city, place, or address instead.

  1. Click the gear in the upper-right hand corner of the window, then Internet options.
  2. Click the Privacy tab in the new window that just appeared.
  3. Uncheck the box labeled Never allow websites to request your physical location if it's already checked.
  4. Click the button labeled Clear Sites.
  5. You're good to go! Click OK, then refresh this Yelp page and try your search again.

You can also search near a city, place, or address instead.

  1. At the top-right hand corner of the window, click the button with three dots on it, then Settings.
  2. Click Choose what to clear underneath Clear browsing data.
  3. Click Show more, then make sure only the box labeled Location permissions is checked.
  4. Click Clear.
  5. You're good to go! Refresh this Yelp page and try your search again.

You can also search near a city, place, or address instead.

Oops! We don't recognize the web browser you're currently using. Try checking the browser's help menu, or searching the Web for instructions to turn on HTML5 Geolocation for your browser. You can also search near a city, place, or address instead.

Something broke and we're not sure what. Try again later, or search near a city, place, or address instead.
We couldn't find you quickly enough! Try again later, or search near a city, place, or address instead.
We couldn't find an accurate position. If you're using a laptop or tablet, try moving it somewhere else and give it another go. Or, search near a city, place, or address instead.

Leave a Comment

(0 Comments)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *