The thing about being a surgeon is that we never disconnect. I knew that before I started my residency. I kept asking myself “do you have what it takes?” – not only from a technical point of view but also, and mainly, from a human perspective. I’m self centered – we all are – but I’m capable of disconnecting from everything when focused on somebody else. I’m moved by people. When I’m taking care of a kid, when I’m at the OR, the world around magically disappears. There are no bladder, hunger or sleeping issues. There are no personal needs. It’s a carpe diem at it’s best, hands version.
The first time I went on holidays, my mentor looked after the kid I had operated. We are a team. I trust her more than I trust myself, she’d be one of the few I’d trust the kids I so far don’t have. That being said, I was with friends at this wonderful beach, in warm sunny days – that I only appreciated completely after receiving that daily message telling me that my patient was doing fine.
It’s not always easy. Things can get rough. There are complications, difficult patients – or cases, as we sometimes say. We take them home. I often wake in the middle of the night only to realize I’ve been working in my dreams. And when things go wrong with one patient, the odds are some others will give you headaches too – a sort of Murphy’s law all doctors know. Outside people often call me workaholic, tell me I should “disconnect” – but how do you disconnect from someone when you’ve had your hands inside his body? It’s my responsibility. My act. My patient.
Funny thing is, would i get to choose, I’d choose to be like this – fully committed, heart, hands and brains. For this is my biggest weakness, but also my biggest strength. Even if it’s hard, even when it hurts.
I have the priviledge of working with amazing people. People who not only are brilliant in what they do, but they also get me – and V. is probably the person who understands me better. Once I asked her “will it always be like this?”. She smiled to me and said “Yes. You only get better at dealing with it”.
So this is my challenge now: to be the best I can, to be the best version of myself for my patients – but also for myself. I’m stubborn; I’m impatient. I want immediate results, I want to be the best right now – but I’m a toddler surgeon and there’s so much work ahead that time never seems to be enough. And that makes me dispair sometimes. But I know who I want to be, what I want to do – and I hope I’ll never forget it, I hope I’ll never break.
The past few weeks were not that good. My mother was submitted to surgery; my patient got an infection. I had some work and personal issues. Do you ever feel like just quitting? Well, I did not (that’s the stubborn me…), but I must admit that at some point I felt I needed a break. And this is when everything else in your life matters the most – being with friends, walking, writing.
And listening to music, which is always some sort of safe place I always return to. This has been my endurance song last month. And being capable of dancing to it even if I just felt like going to the Himalayas – and stay there for a long while – is something that makes me smile. I hope it makes you smile too 🙂 .