Surgery is undoubtedly one of the most intriguing branches of medicine. This is probably the only stream where a knife that symbolises the epitome of violence is ironically used for healing. As surgeons we use the instruments meant to kill people, to do the exactly opposite… to save them.
More often than not, surgery is like mathematics. You follow the steps by the book and get the desired outcome in the stipulated time frame. A surgery performed well is a perfect prelude to an uneventful post operative recovery. As we grow in experience, our outcomes become better and undoubtedly we become more confident.
However, I guess the law of averages does not spare anyone in this world. There comes a day in every surgeon’s life when the planes elude you, the anatomy plays games like never before and the mind frantically looks for unfound solutions. Rarely but surely all of us face that moment of utter helplessness when we feel- “Oh my God what do I do now!” The burden of the direct responsibility towards another human’s life is something that not many are cut out for. In that moment one has to overcome despondency and act with a clear mind. Weight of being at the helm of a human life is a heavy burden to carry. Thankfully, more often than not, the moment passes, the anatomy clears up and suddenly the path is evident.
A doctor patient relationship is always an unequal one. As doctors, it is our job and duty to try to understand and feel the pain that a patient is going through. That forms the crux of diagnosis. However, the patient or the relatives can never fathom what a surgeon goes through while performing a difficult surgery. Yes, the patients are entitled to suffering but the surgeon’s suffering is almost always invisible and when things go wrong, redemption is not a luxury that a surgeon is entitled to. Patients and their families can never comprehend the difficulties that presented during surgery.
I guess the lives of patients and their surgeons are like parallel train tracks that move together but never really meet. One cannot be independent of the other. On this train of health, the journeys of both are equally important. When a patient becomes better, our happiness has no bounds but sometimes when things don’t go the way it was desired, we are conveniently turned into predators.
Before I start a surgery however small or big, I always pray to God for the well being of the patient on table. As doctors we have the best interest of the patient on our minds and believe me no surgeon would wish for a bad outcome after her or his surgery. We are more invested in the well being of our patients than people can comprehend. Life of a surgeon is full of excitement, but has its share of trials and tribulations. In today’s day and age when the trust between doctors and patients is eroding day by day, all we ask for is a little bit of understanding. On this road towards good health, doctors and patients are inseperable partners with faith and trust being at the core of this relationship.
Last but not the least, I would like to say that as surgeons, we don’t want to be treated like God but the least that can be done is, to treat us like humans.
Happy Doctor’s Day!
Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker – Bariatric Surgeon