Sunday, May 15, 2005

At the Pathological Institute

"Hi, I called you a few days ago... about the slides from my liver biopsy, which I did here ten years ago. I've come to collect them". I'm standing half way through the door, with my bag on one shoulder.
"Sit down". It's more a command than a suggestion. I obey, feeling a bit embaraced for my lack of manners.
One hand covers her mouth, while she looks at the computer screen in dismay. "I.D number?"
On the desk, she finds a small box, containing a number of small thin glass plates. She takes a few of them out and looks at them, one by one, puzzled. Her head moves forward and backwards, as if she is a robin, about to snatch a tasty worm. On each slide there is a coloured blot, a stain, like a Rorcschach test. Is this really a piece of my liver there? or is it just printed someohow? I start to become suspicious. Perhaps it's not really my slides. Maybe it's not my liver. How can I tell? Now she holds them all in her hand, like a pack of cards, contemplating carefully before she lays down the trump.
From the corridor I hear someone saying. "It's a placenta. A placenta. Waiting in Mount Scopus".
She suddenly places them down on the table.
"OK. You'll have to go and pay the fee. Go out the corridor, past Fertilation, and you'll see the office. 221 Shekels I believe."
"Do they accept cards?"
"I think they like money in all forms".

When I come back she is wrapping the slides in a padded box. "Please return them to us if you can".
"I will, but in a few months. Are these really the original pieces of my liver?"
"Yes. Very thin slices, coloured and soaked in Parafin, and then embedded in the glass. Be careful not to break them. Where are you taking them to?"
"London. I live there at the moment."
She turns to me, anxious.
"But you said you'll return them.. Oh, please, please say you'll return them to us!"
I have no choice but to reassure her.


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