As this day winds down, I wonder if Blessing ever thought this particular Tuesday would be such a big deal. But here we are, some five years of Tuesdays behind him after a detonator exploded inside his mouth, Blessing finds himself in the U.S. of A., sitting across from a team of gifted surgeons and medical staff from Sharp Memorial Hospital here in San Diego, California.
This Tuesday started with warm greetings at the door and minutes later Blessing was thrown into a swarm of hospital surgeons, anesthesiologists, dental surgeons, hospital administrators, public relations officers, film and sound crews and a few curious onlookers. I’d like to say it felt like a bee-hive in a pit-stop but the whole process was rather calm. Doctors Joel Berger and Thomas Vechionne threw on head-lamps followed by rubber-gloved fingers exploring the interior of Blessing’s mouth. ‘Open wide, say ahhh.’ That kind of stuff. I was most impressed with how fast Blessing’s x-rays were made available to the team as within minutes of our arrival, glowing monitors revealed an undersea-like version of Blessing’s skull, broken jaw and the few teeth that remained in his mouth after the explosion. The team stared, clicked and rotated views and spoke quietly to one another using the language of their trade; soft tissue, releases, bone grafts and k-wires. Blessing held the rubic’s cube that he brought with him firmly in his hands as he looked at the screen with calm fascination.
In no time the team of doctors had a plan. As I listened, it felt like Dr. Berger was a kid playing football in a a huddle as he sketched a play in the dirt for his team to follow. Three surgeries. 6-8 months total. First surgery will be this Saturday. We’ll use his fibula to reconstruct his jaw bone. He’ll get new prosthetic teeth. At this point, a hospital staff member interrupted by offering Dr. Berger a cup of espresso which he happily accepted. For a team preparing for a 9-12 hour surgery, it felt like just another Tuesday at the office.