Sep 16, 2011

Like A Surgeon...Cutting For the Very First Time

Ok. I know that is a Weird Al song, parodying Madonna's "Like A Virgin." Nevertheless, this melody is what plays through my head as I learn to be a surgeon.

At first, it was little things. A "gateway" surgeon, if you will. I could sew up fascia, and close skin. Then, I got to come around to the surgeon's side of the table, and do a little more. A skin incision here, a fascial incision there. I'd retreat back to the assistant's side for the important things, like opening the uterus, delivering the baby, sewing the uterus closed

Today I stayed the whole time on the surgeon's side. And suddenly, all these little pieces of things that I had learned to do on their own added up to me being the primary surgeon, me being able to do an entire cesarean section on my own. I could ask for the knife, and retractors, and scissors, and all the things I needed and actually be able to use them. I could smile as my chief resident handed me the suture to close the uterus, instructing me to "sew like the wind" as blood poured out of the gaping incision. I could reach my hand into a person's abdomen, and feel their aorta pulsating under my touch, hold their uterus and feel the baby kick my hands, feel their pointy vertabrae from the inside instead of the outside.

It's kind of like working in the cadaver lab, but this person is alive! It always startles me how warm everything is to my touch, how their is so much movement in vessels, muscles, enclosed much life I can feel resting in my hands. And I think this is part of the draw of be able to do this to another person, to have your hands deep inside them and not only have them live through it, but have a desired outcome from it.

Even routine surgeries are scary for me at this point. I am more focused then I ever have been, with time slipping away from me as if it was only seconds. I leave warm and sweaty, more tired than if I had run a race. It's scary, but exhilirating.

Like a surgeon...cutting for the very first time...


  1. The video: