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The Writer

Rating:; Genre=Fiction; Pages=12; Characters=23,982;
"Hi, my name is Edgar Poe. I'd like to set up an appointment to talk to Doctor Green."

"Okay, and what's this about?"

"I'd like to consult with him on a book I'm writing."

"Ooh, okay. Does next Tuesday at two thirty work for you?"

"Yes, that'd be fine. It shouldn't take more than half an hour."

"Alright, see you Tuesday."


Ed woke from a restless sleep, looking up at the ceiling of his apartment. The wood ceiling timbers glowing in the early morning sunlight coming in through the open window. He smiled contentedly, today was the day his dreams would come true. The bed stirred next to him, the sheets tugging slightly against his body.

"Hey Snuggles, sleep well?"

The only response he got was a meow, some purring, and a warm cat snuggling against his leg. The synthetic ring of the phone broke the euphoria. Ed rolled over and pulled the slim cell phone out of the pocket of the jacket hanging from the chair.

"ehem ... Hello?"

"Mr. Poe? This is Wendy from Dr. Green's office."

"Wendy, hi."

"I'm just calling to confirm that you'll be here at two thirty?"

"Yes, yes, I'll be there sharp."

"Thank you, I'll see you then."

Ed hung up the phone and put it back in his pocket. Snuggles had worked her way up to the pillow and started licking his nose with her sandpapery tongue.

"Okay, I'm getting up."

Ed rolled out of bed and went to the shower to prepare for the day.

"Good afternoon, I'm Edgar Poe."

"Mr. Poe, right on time. Dr. Green is ready for you. I'll show you to his office."

Ed nodded and fell in behind the secretary. "Wendy," he said.

Wendy slowed and turned her head back, "Yes?"

"You have very beautiful hair."

"Thanks, I hear that a lot."

"Then it must be true, it frames your face perfectly."

Wendy stopped and turned fully towards Ed. "You know, that's a nice suit you're wearing too. I like the burgundy shirt."

"Thanks, I picked it out myself. I'd like to take you to dinner tonight."

Wendy hesitated, "Tonight's not good... Perhaps in a couple days?"

A look of disappointment crossed Ed's face. "Well, why don't I give you my number and if you change your mind you can give me a call. Here's my card, home number's on the back."

Wendy took the card and turned around, unsure about what to say.

They reached Dr. Green's office without another word, "Here we are."

"Thanks, Wendy." said Ed as he watched her walk back down the hall.

"Mr. Poe, I assume."

"Yes, Dr. Green. Thanks for seeing me."

"My pleasure, I understand you're looking for some literary advice. How can I help you?"

"Well, as you know I'm an author. When I write my books I make sure everything is as accurate as possible. There's nothing that ruins a book or movie worse than a technical flaw. For example, my last book had an Indy car driver in it, so I contacted a driver and they let me take a ride. Thus I was able to provide a perspective in my story that would have otherwise been artificial."

"Interesting, so how can I help?"

"One of the characters in my next story is in a car accident. I've never had a cast before so I would like you to go through the process of putting me in a cast for a short period so that I may get the information I need to make it believable."

"I see. Before we continue there are some things you need to understand about casts. First of all they are, as you probably know, used to prevent the body part from moving. That could cause problems if you're trying to write and have a cast on your arm. Secondly there are risks in having a cast, blood clots have a higher potential to form, and if you fall while in the cast you could injure something else."

"I understand, I'm willing to take the risk. I'll only be wearing it a short while anyway."

"There's also the question of price. The casting materials aren't free, you know."

"Of course, I'd be happy to pay whatever fees you need. Of course I won't need xrays or follow-up visits so it shouldn't be too expensive. I'll be paying cash of course since I'm sure my insurance doesn't cover fake injuries."

"Ha ha, indeed they do not. So, what type of cast did you have in mind?"

"I did some research on the internet before coming here today. I ran across something that struck my fancy. I believe, correct me if I pronounce it wrong, it's called a shoulder spica."

"A shoulder spica? Those are rather uncommon nowadays. Let's be clear that a shoulder spica is a cast that goes from your palm up to your shoulder, and then attaches to a body portion that encases the torso. It is a very restrictive cast."

"Yes, that's right. The character needs to overcome it in order to be the hero. I didn't think that a simply arm or leg cast was adequate."

"Indeed. Well, I can certainly help you out. Is this Friday too soon?"

"Friday is fine. I'll also be bringing someone to videotape the procedure so that I can better recall it when writing. Therefore it would be nice to have it as real as possible. Will that work for you?"

"Certainly. We can fake the xray's and that will save you money. I won't tell my assistants it's fake so it will be more realistic."

"Excellent, thank you very much. Can I ask one more favor?"

"Of course."

"I'm considering having one of my characters wear a neck brace but I'm unsure. Could I get a brace to try out till Friday?"

"Sure, I can give you a soft collar to start, if you need something more restrictive we can discuss that later. Neck braces tend to be very expensive. Why don't we go out into an exam room and I can set you up."

Dr. Green stood up and led Edgar to the door and out to the hallway.

"As you can see we have a nice business going, we have six exam rooms, a physical therapy room, an xray room, and of course a casting room. We do mostly non-critical injuries and strains."

"Very nice place you have here."

"Why don't we use Exam Room One here, take a seat and I'll be right back."

Ed sat on the paper-covered exam table and awaited Dr. Green's return. After a few minutes he returned carrying a small blue box.

"This is a soft-foam cervical collar. It is used mostly for minor neck pains and as the final brace in more serious injuries." Dr. Green opened the box and pulled out a white foam collar. "It attaches with velcro in the back and can be easily removed. It isn't very restrictive so don't expect much, but if you pretend you neck hurts when you move it it will be much more realistic." Dr. Green stepped behind Edgar and pulled the ends together in the back. "Just relax your muscles and let the collar support your head. If it feels too tight simply loosen it with the velcro. Any questions?"

"Yes, am I supposed to drive with this on?"

"Since you don't really need to wear it, I suggest you take it off to drive. It's a lot safer driving without it on."

"What about the cast I'm getting?"

"The cast you're getting is very restrictive, so no. You'll need to use public transportation or have a friend drive you."

"Alright, I can live with that."

"Well then, you're set to go. I'll see you Friday at, say, five o'clock? That way there won't be any other patients to worry about."

"Thank you Dr. Green."

I did it. I'm getting the cast of my dreams in two days!

That's wonderful! So the story about being a writer worked?

Yeah! I even got a soft collar to play with till Friday!

Wow, cool. Is he going to let us videotape it?

Yeah! He said he wouldn't tell the staff to make it more realistic. You can still come and film it right?

Sure, what time?

Come by my house at 4, I won't be able to drive so I'll need a ride home afterwards.

Alright, I'll be there.


Friday: 4pm

"Knock knock, Neo"

Edgar heard a knock coming from the direction of his front door. "Wow, I love this new stereo setup, you can really hear the five channels!" he thought as Neo opened the door on the TV.

Bang Bang Bang.

Edgar realizes it's not coming from the movie this time, it really is his front door.

"Jeff, thanks for coming. You got the camera?"

"Yeah, ready to go. What time's the appointment?"

"In an hour."

"Okay, we should leave here soon then."


"How's the collar been?"

"Great, I love this thing. My next adventure will have to be a neck brace."

"Met any women?"

"Yeah, a few. There's this lady at the mall who couldn't take her eyes off me in the brace. I couldn't tell if she was interested in me or just interested in the collar!"

"Oh, you poor baby. Did you talk to her?"

"No, she seemed really busy..."

"Dummy, next time go talk to her."

"You're taking the collar off once you get your cast right?"

"Yeah, it would be too much right now for them both."

"Can I try it on then?"

"Sure, just don't get addicted!"

Ed removed the collar and handed it to Jeff, who put it on.

"Wow, this is stiff. I thought soft collars were less restrictive."

"Yeah, but this is called a tall collar, it's keeps the neck better supported and lets it move less. You can still force it though, it's made of soft foam."

"I like it. Mind if I keep it for a while?"

"Sure, have fun."

"Well, we better get going."

"Hi Wendy, I'm here for my appointment. This is my cameraman Jeff."

"Hello Ed, Jeff. Dr. Green is waiting for you. I'll show you back. Dr. Green asked me to put you in this shoulder sling to help with the illusion of injury."

"Good idea. Can you help?"

"Yeah, here, this strap goes over the shoulder, this one around the waist. Here, put your arm in the sling. Did you want your left or right arm? The sling is set up for the right arm."

"Um, yeah, right is good I guess."

"You don't sound so sure of yourself now, are you sure you want to go through with this?" asked Wendy as she tightened the velcro securing Ed's arm in the sling, and the sling to his waist.

"Yeah, I'm sure. I was planning on the left arm but the right is good too."

"Don't worry about it, people break their right arms all the time and they do fine."

"Yeah, okay. Let's go. Jeff, start filming. From here on people think it's a real injury."

Ed and Jeff fell in behind Wendy as she led them back to an exam room.

"Please take a seat on the table, Mr. Poe, Dr. Green will see you shortly."

Ed sat down on the table and waited, Jeff did a pan of the room.

"Mr. Poe," said Dr. Green as he walked into the room with two assistants. "Wendy tells me you fell on your shoulder while mountain biking and now it is hurting badly. Is this correct?"

"Yeah, I couldn't believe it, must have hit a stick or something while riding White Rabbit."

"Okay, why don't I take a quick look here. Does it hurt when I press here?"

"Ow, yes, very much." cried Ed, reading the urging look in the doctor's eyes.

"Alright, it seems you have a broken collarbone. Let's take you to xray and take a look inside. First I'll give you something for the pain."

Dr. Green produced a syringe and quickly injected it into Ed's shoulder. One of the assistants brought in a wheelchair and assisted Ed into it.

"Mary, Jill, take Ed here to the xray room. I'll work the controls while you position him."

"Yes doctor." said the assistants in unison.

Ed was wheeled off to the xray room. Once there the assistants helped Ed onto the xray table at the doctor's instruction. Several xray's were taken from several angles. Ed was glad he didn't have to fake any pain because the assistants were touching him frequently.

"Okay girls, that's enough. You can take him to the casting room and prep him, I'll be in shortly."

"Yes doctor."

"So are you two nurses or students or what?"

"We're nurses, specializing in orthopedics. We do all the grunt work the doctors don't want to do." said Jill, the blond.

"Sounds exciting. What's the most interesting cast you've worked on?"

"Most interesting? Well, that would have to be the guy with two arm casts last year. The guy was fat and could barely move even though the casts weren't that bad."

"I've got a better one," said Mary, the redhead, "I helped apply a hip spica cast to a teenage girl. She had some disease and had to have her hips immobilized for a long time. Sad case, but an interesting cast."

"Well, here we are. Let me help you up to the table and take your clothes off."

"My clothes off?" asked Jeff.

"Yes silly, we wouldn't want cast goop ending up on your clothes would we?"

Before Ed could protest the girls started removing his shirt. He had worn a button-down one so they could slide it off without cutting it. After the shirt came the pants. Ed couldn't conceal his excitement and started to get really embarrassed.

"Don't worry, we have this affect on men all the time." said Jill.

Ed smiled and blushed. The girls then helped him into a pair of cotton pants that were disposable.

Just as they finished dressing him the doctor came in with a sheaf of xrays. He walked over to the xray viewer and started hanging up the pictures. The xrays clearly showed a broken scapula as well as a partially fractured humerus.

"As you can see, you've broken your shoulder and upper arm. Fortunately none of the fractures are displaced so we can begin casting immediately. This will require what we call a shoulder spica cast that will need to be worn for 8-10 weeks. Any questions before we begin?"

"No." Ed said quietly. "But could you describe the process as you go?" The xrays certainly looked convincing, he was beginning to believe the story was true himself. What was in that syringe?

"First off we're going to place you in what we call a stockinette sock. It will protect the skin from the casting material and it helps pull perspiration away from the skin. This piece I'm putting on now is like a tshirt and will be trimmed down later. Next is a smaller piece that covers the forarm and shoulder. This too will be trimmed down later to fit the final cast.

"I'm also adding these pre-cut pieces of thick padding around the bony parts of your body. Without these there is a higher chance the cast will rub against them and cause skin damage. There are pads on your illiac crests, shoulder, back, elbow, and thumb.

"The stockinette isn't thick enough by itself to be comfortable so we'll be adding some layers of cotton padding everywhere. I'll start at your waist with some wide padding and work my way up. As you can see I'm overlapping slightly each time so there will be a nice even amount of padding everywhere when I'm done. I'm done with the waist and will start on the sash part now. Same idea here, the padding is a bit thicker at the edges but is uniform everywhere else. Under your armpit I'm placing a ball of absorbent material. This will help keep you cool and be more comfortable. I'll hold that in with more padding and start working my way down your shoulder now. I'm using smaller width padding now because of the turns needed at the elbow and wrist. Around the thumb and wrist there's a bit extra padding since the fingers move often they need more padding.

"Alright, the padding is done. Let me just smooth it out and make sure there are no ripples or snags anywhere. Next I'm going to apply a thin layer of tape to help secure the padding where I want it to be. Not all doctors do this but I've found that the padding stays where it's supposed to be better which makes for a more comfortable cast. As you can see the cast is starting to take shape, try to not move your shoulder at all or it may cause a crease in the padding. That's good.

"I'm going to start now with the fiberglass. I'll be using white, real white not the natural yellow, casting tape. I'll start at your shoulder with 4" tape and set the elbow at the proper angle before moving on. It will feel warm for a couple minutes but it will never get too hot. After a minute it will be rock solid and you will be able to stop holding your arm up. I'm opening another roll of 4" tape now, well start by doing the sash and then secure the shoulder to the body. Make sure to keep still during this part or the cast may cure in the wrong position.

"Good, you're doing fine. I'll add another layer now to the shoulder part since that's where most of the weight will be at and we need it strong. Just keep still, I know it's starting to get warm. I'm starting a 5" roll now for your waist. Try to breathe normal so the cast isn't too snug or too loose and make sure to sit up straight so you back will be comfortable in the cast. Good, good. I'll trim the bottom padding and fold the stockinette back now and then secure it with some more 5" tape. The shoulder part should be completely hard by now, but don't move your wrist yet. I'm sure you've noticed I've been moving my hands all over the cast as it dries. This is to make sure that there are no wrinkles in the cast while it is setting. Once it's dry it can't be changed.

"I'll add another roll to the sash and shoulder now, and trim the sash part back so it is more comfortable. Good. New we'll finish up the wrist. We'll be including the thumb in this cast so just keep still and we'll have it casted soon. I've switched to 2" fiber now because of the size of the hand and thumb. We'll put the thumb in neutral supponation so it will be comfortable for you. I'm folding back the stockinette now and finishing the hand part. Almost done, just have some final smoothing to do.

"Okay, we're done, how does that feel? Are there any sharp points?"

"No, this feels fine. Just sort of strange is all."

"Excellent, the nurses will help you get cleaned up and show you back to the exam room."

The two girls led Ed back to the examination room.

"Here, let us help you up onto the table. I know the cast feels heavy right now but as it dries some more it will feel lighter. The pain should go away after a week or so."

"Thanks, I do feel a bit top-heavy."

"Why don't you lay back here and we can help you put your normal pants back on. Then we'll show you how to put on a shirt and then you'll be on your way.

"Okay, Mary will put your shoes on while I help you with your shirt. The old plaster casts had to have a support bar that went from the waist to the elbow but this new fiberglass cast doesn't need one. That means you can wear all the normal clothes you already own. You may be more comfortable in a baggy shirt or coat but that will be up to you."

"Why did the old casts have to have bars?" asked Ed.

"Well, the plaster used in the casts back then wasn't strong enough to hold up the arm and the shoulder, so the bar took some of the weight off. The old casts were a lot thicker too and took several days to dry completely."

"Ouch, that seems a lot more of a hassle than this one is."

"Yeah, they really were. These new casts much easier to live in than the old ones."

"Have you worn a cast?"

"Not a cast, but I broke my neck a while ago and wore a halo for half a year."

"Ouch, that must have been a huge hassle."

"Yeah, the first couple of weeks are tough, as you'll find out with this cast, but after that it just becomes a part of you. Once they took it off I felt naked and vulnerable. I think I used it as a security blanket for dealing with the accident."

"I see. And I'll find out I guess. Would you like to go to dinner sometime? I'd love to talk some more about coping with a cast."

"Dinner? Sure! You probably won't have much of an appetite for a couple days but after that I'd love to. Watching you eat will be very entertaining."

"I'm glad I can amuse you. Perhaps you could humor me as well by wearing, say, a neck brace?"

"You want me to wear a neck brace? That's a new one. I'm not sure."

"I'm sure I'll be self consious about the cast, it'd make me feel better if I weren't alone."

"When you put it that way how can I refuse? What would you like me to wear?"

"I'm sure the halo isn't practical, what other kinds of braces are there?"

"There's quite an assortment. From soft collars to hard collars to ctlso's to minerva's. Plus all sorts of variations."

"I don't know what most of those are, are there any you can show me?"

"Certainly, just sit here and I'll be right back."

Jill and Mary left the room to find the braces, leaving Ed and Jeff alone.

"Man, you sure are smooth. I can't believe she's going to model neck braces for you." said Jeff as he switched batteries in the camera.

"You know it man, you getting all this?"

"Yeah, great stuff. I'd love to get this next part on tape but it'll be better alone. Mind waiting outside for a while?"

"You owe me, man."

Just as Jeff was leaving Jill came back with an armful of boxes of assorted sizes.

"Well, I grabbed a bunch. Hope you like them. I haven't worn one since those I wore from the accident."

Jill opened the first box.

"This one is called a Philedelphia collar. It's hard plastic with a soft liner. It's fairly restrictive but there's a lot of lower neck movement."

"That's nice, I knew a girl in high school who wore one for a bit."

"I wore one of these after the halo came off. When you have a halo for as long as I did they have to wean you off braces since the neck is so weak. Would you like me to try this one on?"

"No, not yet. What else did you bring?"

"There's a soft collar here, but those are boring. This next one you may like though. It's called a four post brace."

"I like that one. Would you mind modeling it?"

"Sure, it'll take a minute to put on. There are two pieces and a lot of adjustments. The two parts rest on the shoulders and the bars attached to them go to the chin cup and head rest. It's quite good at immobilizing the head and isn't too cumbersome."

"Wow, I really like that. Would you mind wearing it on our date?"

"Alright, if it'll make you feel better."

"Better yet, how about wearing it all weekend to get used to it? We could go out Sunday night so you won't have to wear it to work Monday."

Jill giggled and said, "All weekend? Sure, I don't have plans. It'll level the playing field for us too since we'll both be in our hardware for the same amount of time."

"My thoughts exactly. So is Sunday at six good for you?"

"Yeah, it does. How are we getting to the restraunt though? Neither of us can drive."

"Ooh, I hadn't thought of that. I suppose I could pick you up in my grand taxi cab."

"Very funny, you make it sound so regal. I await your chariot."

"Sunday it is then."

"Sunday it is."


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