Penetrating Trauma

I'm writing this Red Sox story now, because I can't predict my emotional state this time tomorrow. After the Sox momentum these past few days, the tale feels distant, and receding, but I suspect it can never be too far from our thoughts...

Last year, during Game 7 of the epic 2003 American League Championship Series matchup between the Yankees and Red Sox, I was on call. Admitting patients. To the Surgery team. Every day was a long slog but call days especially so; this one was bearable only though occasional dispatches from the nurse's lounge: "Sox up 5-2!" "Pedro's looking strong!"

By the eighth inning, I was on the floor, admitting a middle-aged guy with alcoholic pancreatitis. Volume depletion is a big problem with pancreatitis -- we needed to know how much urine this guy was making. Precision required a foley catheter.

I tried to inform the patient of this as he looked over my shoulder, at his wall-mounted TV. He was watching our tired ace, Pedro Martinez, give up one hit after another.

Me: "So, uh, you're going to need a foley."
Patient: "Why is he still in the game? He's done!"
Me: "A tube will go through your penis."
Patient: "Whatever. Take Pedro out of the game!"

I slowly set up my foley kit (in retrospect, this was probably my second or third career catheterization). I glanced over my shoulder a few times, seeing Pedro give up a run and manager Grady Little come out to the mound.

Me: "Looks like Pedro's out."
Patient: "No! They're leaving him in!"

Pedro then gave up a ground rule double to Hideki Matsui -- there were two on with one out in the eighth. The score was 5-3, Red Sox. Jorge Posada came up to bat. I tuned everything out as I inserted the foley.

As the tube went in, I glanced up at the patient's face and saw an expression of abject horror and revolting pain. I will never forget that look, and I never want to see it again. I assumed at this point I had just obliterated the man's prostate.

Me: "What is it?! What is it?!"
Patient: "Posada doubled! The game's tied."

I looked up at the TV and saw the real damage. Pedro was pulled after that -- two hitters too late. The Yankees went on to win the game and move on to the World Series. The Red Sox manager was fired shortly thereafter.

The 2004 season brought a new set of memories and frustrations to the Sox/Yankees rivalry, but never doubt that the sting from that Game 7 lingers in the hearts of New Englanders. All I have to do is remember that face, and a pain far worse than any foley.