“See?” whispered Doctor White, making me jump and drop the clipboard into my lap. I’d nearly forgotten that she was there. “It’s all different for you now. Everything. It’ll never be the same.”
“Yeah,” I said, swallowing the lump that rested in my throat. “I guess, but…” I didn’t know how voice this pain I was feeling inside. I wasn’t me anymore. I felt wrong. Tears started leaking from my eyes. For once, Doctor White looked completely in her element as she handed me a constant stream of tissues from the box that sat next to my bed.
After a few minutes, the curtain was yanked back to reveal a slightly agitated Doctor Everett standing with his hands shoved deep into his pockets. I sniffed quickly and wiped the remaining tears away with the base of my thumbs, even though I knew that all I accomplished with that move was to agitate the puffy red skin inhabiting the space under my eyes. “You told her?” Doctor Everett demanded of Doctor White.
“Not…not quite yet,” said Doctor White, her voice squeaking slightly as she scooped the chart up from my lap and clasped it to her chest. She turned to face him, her sneakers squeaking loudly against the linoleum. “She has the basics down but then it all sort of…stopped. But I can assure you, she understands the results of her surgeries. Would you be able to do some of the finer introductions?”
“There’s more?” I sobbed, a little too loudly for the doctors’ tastes. Doctor Everett sighed and nodded to Doctor White, who shut the room’s door completely, blocking us off from the outside world.
“I’m not going to lie to you, Mina. There’s so much more. I have to tell you a lot.” He took a deep breath and sat down on the edge of my bed, flipping open the chart. “Very little in your body is your own. There are a few bones that haven’t been replaced, but instead reinforced. Your hair is mostly made of a mesh material that will act as a simulation while some of the drugs we’re giving you have time to jumpstart the natural follicles and begin the process of regrowth. Unfortunately, the process is irreversible, so you’re going to have to get your hair cut more often than you do now.”
I’d lost my hair. The hair that I’d grown out for months, for years. Hair that had caused countless fights with my mother over the color I’d dyed it, the different styles it had taken on, the different ways it had been parted, and the way it hung in my face whenever I didn’t take the time to pin my bangs back. All that work for nothing. It set me to crying again. I glared at the tiny drops in my hand now, watching them slide down my palm instead of angrily wiping them away. “Fuck this,” I muttered, gathering up my courage before shouting. “Fuck all this shit! What the hell are these, fake? Just plain old salt water?”
“They’re real tears,” Doctor Everett insisted, placing a reassuring hand on my shoulder. “They just aren’t your real tears. We replaced your tear ducts with a set from an organ donor. The same one who donated your…” He checked the chart again. “Your stomach.” I started crying even harder.
You never appreciate the little things in life until they’re gone. Like having your own tear ducts.
“And, of course, there were parts of your brain we were able to salvage,” Doctor Everett continued, barreling right through my tears as though he dealt with this situation every day of his life. He had just told me that I was able to be salvaged, like I was just a car waiting to be stripped down to my shocks and picked to pieces. “Automatic function and memory were both protecting during the crash, and are working perfectly as far as we can tell. But other parts of your brain, like the speech center and fine motor skills were gone. Essentially, anything that would have given you even a semblance of a quality life had been destroyed. I’m sorry we couldn’t save it.”
“And the rest?” I asked as Doctor White handed me yet another tissue in a long line of them. “What about the rest of me? It…it can’t all be gone, can it?”
“I’m sorry,” Doctor White said softly, but a glare from Doctor Everett shut her up.
“It’s all gone,” he said. “On the scene and during your first few surgeries, there were only some of your organs that were operational like your heart, your lungs, and one of your kidneys. But with all of the surgeries that were happening, they couldn’t withstand the strain and it became necessary for them to be replaced.”