Poems by Jim Ferris
- Notes from the Surgeons: Drs. Sofield,
Louis, Hark, Alfini, Millar, Baehr,
Bevan-Thomas, Tsatsos, Ericson, and Bennan
- 6-10-60. History. This child is the
second of three
- children - the other two are perfectly
normal. He was the product
- of a normal pregnancy and delivery.
At birth it was noted
- that the left lower extremity was
shorter than the right. The child
- had a fragmentation and rodding of
the left femur
- for stimulation of bone growth. Prior
to that procedure a 2" discrepancy
- existed. This procedure was repeated
in 1957 and again in 1958. Prior to the procedure in
- 1958 a 2" discrepancy was again
noted. The child's
- early development was normal. He has,
of course, been periodically set back
- in his physical progress because of
the surgical procedures.
- 6-10-60. Physical examination. Head:
;There is nothing
- abnormal about the head. Left lower
extremity :There appears
- to be only a very moderate degree
of atrophy in the left thigh, but
- this is explainable on the basis of
his surgical procedures.
- Gait is moderately abnormal but caused
- by the leg length discrepancy.
- 7-28-61. History. He began sitting
at six months of age, talked
- at one year, and began talking at
about one year of age. There have been
- some periods of regression following
the early surgical procedures. The boy
- is attending school and is apparently
- 7-28-61. Physical Examination. Examination
reveals a slight
- compensatory scoliosis. This is corrected
by equalization of leg lengths.
- This boy walks with a left short leg
limp. He is able to run without difficulty,
- and can hop on his right foot, but
he is unable to hop on his left foot. When performing
- the duck waddle his left leg leads
- 12-7-62. Neurological Examination.
Deep tendon reflexes
- are physiological. There is a slight
diminution of the left knee jerk
- as contrasted with that on the right.
No sensory loss nor pathologic reflexes.
- 8-28-63. Progress Notes. The mother
relates that the boy has been
- stumbling more and more in recent
weeks. His quadriceps are
- quite weak, probably from the multiple
- done on his thigh. Quadriceps are
rather bound down at the knee.
- The leg length discrepancy is 3"
and it is very difficult
- to have a satisfactory shoe lift on
this dimension. A long leg brace
- was ordered with knee locks and with
a 2" pylon extension.
- 11-8-63. Progress Notes. This boy
has received his long leg brace
- with the caliper extension today.
The brace is satisfactory,
- except for the fact that the ankle
joint is rigid and
- he has a great deal of difficulty
getting his trousers on and off
- and needs to split the seams.
- 8-14-64. Progress Notes. This child
who is almost 10 years of age
- is wearing a long leg brace with a
stilt on it, but the mother says
- that he objects to this and apparently
is undergoing considerable
- emotional disturbance. The mother
has noticed this since his return
- from the hospital at which time he
had a repeat fragmentation and rodding.
- 4-7-67. Physical Examination. Lower
- There is obvious atrophy of the left
thigh: This cannot
- be accurately compared with the right
because of the shortness
- of the extremity and the dislocation
of the patella.
- 6-6-69. History. The child is in the
ninth grade and does fair
- and goes to a regular school.
- 10-30-70. Progress Notes. Final Discharge.
The patient is essentially
- unchanged since last visit. His leg
lengths measured to the heel
- on the right measures 101 and 86 on
the left from the anterior superior
- iliac spine. He has occasional episodes
of pain. He is still
- wearing the long leg brace with the
high lift below
- and there was no indication on the
mother's part that she plans
- on having anything done in the near
- from The Shriners Suite: A poetic sequence
- Hospital Smell
- Overpowering black rubber held to your face
- and if you want to breathe at all you have to
- through the rubber, breathe the rubber, you can't
- and you can't stop breathing so you take that
- rank claustrophobic vertigo smell deep inside
- until it fouls your every cell, until your soul
- is coated with oily muck, until the whole world
- lurches, whirls out of control, until you black
- For many years I couldn't enter a tire store
- without my back crawling, without stopping to
- my body, without plugging my mind's nose so that
- I could tend to my car. When I was eleven
- they started using pentothal. Though I'd still
- and puke upon waking, one rough spot was smoothed
- Watching Mars
- At night
- you could see Mars
- across the railroad tracks -
- aliens in lab coats doing
- God knows
- what in
- blue-green light. I
- guessed they doctored candy
- bars on second shift - sometimes Mars
- bars would
- for us - still, those
- days, I never could see
- past the lab coats enough to tell
- for sure.
- New Cast
- Sometimes blood would seep from the wound
- into damp plaster, and evening rust
- would mingle with whitewash white,
- reminding all who cared to look just
- what well-intentioned violence
- lay under that stiff, brittle trust.
- Jim Ferris is a poet living in Madison, Wisconsin.