Under the Surgeon’s Knife
‘’Brutality” may be an apt word for some to use while describing the profession and practices of surgery. The thought of a sane human cutting open another living human sends shudders down the spines of many. The initiating act of giving incision, causing blood to trickle out of the vessels seems barbaric and inhumane. What follows is no way digestible, as a surgeon incises and cauterizes in an orderly way through the tissues- adipose, fascia, muscles – working his way to the playing field, breathing in the unique aroma, or stench (depending on perspective) of burning flesh. The surgery may be as straightforward as removing a gall-bladder, or as extensive as a liver transplant. Whatever the procedure, the principle remains the same; cutting open a living human while he/she is unconscious only to close back the defect after the requested alterations have been made, cutting open the living human after getting his/her consent.
It is in the consent that the beauty of surgery lays. When a patient comes to a surgeon, he/she gives the surgeon enormous powers, all for the sake of seeking cure. The patient allows the surgeon to explore what was not meant to be explored, i.e. his/her body from within. The patient’s trust on the surgeon’s knowledge and expertise is unparalleled to any other form of trust in the world. While it is true that we have stern laws against acts of criminal negligence, no law is strong enough to make sure that the patient gets back his/her life once it has been lost on the operating table. Life is arguably the most precious possession of a living being, and to leave it in the surgeon’s hands with the faith of having it back is fascinating. Many anesthetists here will argue that it is actually their job to put the patient to sleep and then make sure he/she wakes up. The job of an anesthetist is as important as the surgeon’s job without a shadow of doubt. However, it is the surgeon that the patient approaches, giving consent to undertake the bafflement called surgery.
Bearing this in mind, each surgeon should realize the enormous responsibility that fate has bestowed upon this profession. It is mesmerizing, yet perilous. It is glorious, yet uncertain. It can be greatly rewarding, yet insanely tormenting. Before stepping into this field, each surgeon should fully comprehend the complexity of the tasks that lie ahead. These aspects of our medical practice are generally over-looked during our lectures, and get over-shadowed under the weight of thick books. Just like any other profession, many of us tend to stray away to a path lead by monetary instead of moral values. Our concentration falls on whatever is superficial, instead of what lies deep within. All that glisters becomes gold, as we embark ourselves not upon a journey but a race, a race to reach the top as soon as possible, crossing all hurdles and tackling all resistances that come in the way. Principle is replaced by greed; the conscience becomes dormant. But no matter how far we run away, the truth under the surgeon’s knife will also be there to guide us and remind us of what we chose to ignore once upon a time.