To be a good surgeon, you have to think like a surgeon. Emotions are messy. Tuck them neatly away and step into a clean, sterile room where the procedure is simple. Cut, suture and close. But sometimes, you’re faced with a cut that won’t heal. A cut that rips its stitches wide open.
They say practice makes perfect. Theory is, the more you think like a surgeon, the more you become one. The better you get at remaining neutral, clinical. Cut, suture, close. And the harder it becomes to turn it off, to stop thinking like a surgeon, and remember what it means to think like a human being…[maybe I’m missing some?]
I have an aunt, who, whenever she poured anything for you, would say, ‘say when’. My aunt would say ‘say when’, and of course, we never did. We don’t say when, because there’s something about the possibility of more. More tequila, more love, more anything. More is better.
There’s something to be said about glass half full. About knowing when to say when. I think it’s a floating line. A barometer of need and desire. It’s entirely up to the individual. And depends on what’s being poured. Sometimes, all we want is a taste. Other times, there’s no such thing as enough. The glass is bottomless. And all we want is more.
Surgeons are control freaks. With a scalpel in your hand, you feel unstoppable. There’s no fear, there’s no pain. You’re ten feet tall and bulletproof. And then you leave the OR. And all that perfection, all that beautiful control…just falls to crap.
No one likes to lose control, but as a surgeon, there’s nothing worse. It’s a sign of weakness. Of not being up the task. And still, there are times when it just gets away from you. When the world stops spinning, and you realise that your shiny little scalpel isn’t going to save you. No matter how hard you fight it, you fall. And it’s scary as hell. Except there’s an upside to freefalling. It’s the chance you give your friends to catch you.
The key to surviving a surgical internship is denial. We deny that we’re tired. We deny that we’re scared. We deny how badly we want to succeed, and, most importantly, we deny that we’re in denial. We only see what we want to see, and believe what we want to believe. And it works. We lie to ourselves so much that after awhile, the lies start to seem like the truth. We deny so much that we can’t recognise the truth, right in front of our faces.
Sometimes reality has a way of sneaking up and biting us on the ass. And when the dam bursts, all you can do is swim. The world of pretend is a cage, not a cocoon. We can only lie to ourselves for so long. We are tired. We are scared. Denying it doesn’t change the truth. Sooner or later, we have to put aside our denial and face the world, head on, guns blazing. Denial. It’s not just a river in Egypt. It’s a freakin’ ocean. So how do you keep from drowning in it?