When I heard about the girl, the first thing I thought of was Schwarzkogler. I don’t know why. The infection probably.
The girl turned up at the doctor's office with a bladder infection. Her mother told the doctor the girl had been having them since the surgeries, botched jobs that led to peritonitis, and then to the recurring infections. I imagine the doctor, searching through the girl’s medical history for the surgeries and not finding them, because the operations were performed somewhere else and there was no record of them at his office.
The child had stabbed herself in the stomach with a kitchen knife, an unusual act for a girl I hear. Boys use knives and guns. Girls who try to kill themselves usually use drugs.
When the doctor examined the girl, he found what had started as a small puncture of her belly had, through one failed surgery after another, become a disfiguring jumble of deep, crisscrossing scars. Then he saw the scars on her arms. Some of them were recent, and they were infected.
I saw scars like that on a woman’s arms in Austin a long time ago. I thought she’d tried to kill herself and failed. Now I think she may have been cutting herself. I don’t know why.
What are kids who cut themselves up to? What are they after? And what can the doctors who deal with the children’s bodies while other doctors try to understand the children’s minds do about the infections and the scars?
I imagine the doctor, explaining sterile technique to the girl. Before you cut yourself, you have to wipe the place you are going to cut with alcohol and clean the blade of your knife.