The Kowalski Scenario

An all new short story from the mind of Edison McDaniels


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Learning to survive as a neurosurgery resident is hard. Life on the front lines of medicine and surgery is anything but easy. The hours are long, rest is scarce, and the decisions never ending. 

 With life and death hanging in the balance, the decisions are never easy either. Sometimes, there isn’t a good—or even reasonable—choice. 

And sometimes you have to be in two places at once—with two lives dependent on what you do in the next ten minutes. What do you do then?

The Kowalski Scenario.
Not so much about learning how to operate, but when.

An excerpt…

IN THE NEXT FEW MINUTES I spoke with his mom (she looked terror stricken when I told her he needed emergency brain surgery, a look I had come to know well after nearly a year in the trenches—nobody is ever happy to see a brain surgeon, go figure) and made arrangements for him to go to surgery with Charlie, my chief resident, who concurred with my diagnosis.

“The kid’s got a fucking boil in his head. Let’s pop it,” Charlie said with his usual screaming candor when I showed him the films. 

I invited the peds resident to the OR with us, but she turned a little pale at the idea and said she’d take a rain check and join us another time. I doubted that, but she did help me wheel him upstairs to the pre-induction area. His seizure had stopped by then, but his breathing had shallowed, and I feared it might shallow further if we waited too long. 

We didn’t. Charlie and I had the boy in surgery within thirty minutes and had his skull cracked in another twenty. It was pus city in there all right, and, this was Charlie talking again, “smelled like an unwashed toilet.” We irrigated the bad humors off the surface of his brain for another half hour—extinguishing the flames, so to speak—before piecing his skull back together with a few metal plates and screws.

ORDINARY FOLKS—Extraordinary Circumstances

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