My best friend is a doctor. I love her to death, and I am so proud of the career she has stepped into.
There was one year that I joined in for her birthday party where everyone that attended was a fellow doctor. While they were all friendly, happy, and intelligent, I found it extremely difficult to connect with them. They only wanted to talk about a recent surgery, a patient, maybe some problems in a hospital set up or chain of communication between medical professionals. They asked some friendly questions, but ultimately, they were bursting with an energy that came from the start and success of a new career and a path that they were very proud of. Their world was medicine. And if you were not a part of that world, it was difficult to make any headway in conversation.
I think one day, I might be able to get to know them better. But at this current point of time, maybe they only want to talk about work.
My GP, on the other hand, I think I could talk all day to. At his age, I think he’s transcended to a level where he can divulge aspects of his career that speaks to life in general. He’s relatable. I really like him. He’s like an absent minded (but brilliant) professor, and he always leaves a bit of time to talk to you at the end of your appointments. Not about the reason you came to see him. But just about – life.
I told him one time, that he was a wonderful doctor. And he responded quietly in his humble and endearing way that he enjoyed the moment that I said that, but disclosed that sometimes, he wasn’t always proud of some of the things he had to do. He said people are so wowed by this profession. They say, you save lives. And he said to me, I don’t save lives. The only thing I can do, my goal, is to make someone’s day a bit better. He went on to tell me that when he used to work in the OR, you’d treat someone and send them off to ICU. And he would follow up later on to ask how that patient was, only to be told that they had died. It wasn’t his fault, but he couldn’t save them.
I was very humbled by him, amidst his quiet reflections as I sat across from him at his office.
There was a book review I came across a few years ago. It’s called Monday Mornings, written by a neurosurgeon by the name of Sanjay Gupta. He writes this book as fiction, but it’s about a series of confidential meetings that happen on a weekly basis between doctors at this one hospital, where they discuss surgeries that went wrong, and learn from that.
The book is simply fascinating, and also sobering. One chapter enclosed below:
and we can’t keep it up. His heart is starting to fail.” Ty shot him a glance and then motioned to put the boy to sleep. Syringes were pushed a tube was placed in the boy’s mouth. Ty was back at work, aggressively trying to stop the bleeding in the boy whose blood would simply not clot. What…is…happening…?
“Chest tray!” Ty shouted to the now-assembled group of a dozen nurses. He was going to attempt a last-ditch effort to save the boy. He would open up his chest and begin an open-heart massage. He would pump the boy’s heart until they could get enough blood in him.
Ty’s hands were flailing wildly as he was describing everything to the surgeons in the secret meeting room. He had almost forgotten where he was, until a stern voice jarred him back to the present. Room 311, just after 6 AM.
“Did you really think that would work?” Hooten asked.
Ty looked momentarily confused, and then met his inquisitor’s eyes head-on. “No sir, I didn’t.”
Gupta, Sanjay. Monday Mornings. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2012. Print.