It occurred to me that I had yet to write my monthly post for this blog for the month of June. Almost as if a mental alarm sounded off in my brain, I was reminded that a post was perhaps due. Luckily, I was made aware of this before the end of the month!
I sat down this evening to contemplate what to write. I entertained various ideas, rejecting a number of them. I am not a professional writer. I do it for pleasure because it allows me a bit of an outlet, and for the value that I hope it provides for any readers out there! Since I am motivated only by pure intentions, I have to “feel” it– a topic has to resonate with me before I can put it down and send it off to the blogosphere and the universe. Without any real pressure of a looming deadline, except a self-imposed one, I have the privilege of taking some time to feel it all out.
Well, after considering topics as love, fear, ethics in rhinoplasty surgery, current events, business, astrology, and summer, I decided to seek your opinion, again.
I have a plethora of ideas. I believe creativity to be one of my gifts. What I do with that gift is not always as productive as I aspire, but I am working on that! A few months ago, I was sitting in a seminar where the guest speaker was lecturing about teamwork. Although I was enraptured by his words and commanding presence, I was appropriately distracted by an idea that struck me like a lightening bolt. I had an idea for a book. Now, I am a published author; I have written a book (medical textbook) and industry papers. So, another book idea is not exactly a far stretch for me. However, I have not yet written a book for a general audience or wider readership (non-clinical). I have wanted to write one for a long time, but I could not yet get that unique proposition to feel right to me. Rather than wax poetic about the idea of the book, I will commit to posting an excerpt from the unfinished project. Let’s hope I finish it one of these years! The excerpt follows below. I’d like your feedback. Enjoy!
Surgical training involves an extensive and prolonged course of academic and clinical education. Four years of college is followed by four years of medical school. After choosing one’s specific field of medicine, an internship ensues for one year. Then a specific residency is pursued for 2-8 years, depending upon the specialty, with the surgical subspecialties requiring the lengthier training. After attending Boston University, where I majored in English and biology, I entered into the combined program at Dartmouth Medical School and Brown School of Medicine. I thought that I had wanted to become a pediatrician since I have always loved children. But during my pediatrics rotation, I learned something about myself. In attempting to take an oral history from my patients, I realized that I did not excel at eliciting information from little Johnny about how he felt (this perhaps carried into my adult dating life!). I recognized about myself that I relied upon communication in order to be of most help. Since the children and pre-pubescent patients were not forthcoming or capable of full self-expression, I did not derive fulfillment from working with those patients. It was time to—be flexible—and alter my plans. The next rotation brought me to the obstetrics and gynecology ward. As a woman, I thought that I would do well in the field, as I could perhaps be more compassionate than my male colleagues, or so I thought. So, I tailored my clinical rotations to best prepare me for considering that field. However, after my first delivery and experience sitting in between a woman’s legs sewing a fourth-degree (extends all the way through to the rectum) episiotomy, I quickly changed my mind! I was on to the next arena for exploration—the surgery rotation. However, I had mixed feelings, enthusiasm and apprehension, about my upcoming experience.
I didn’t think surgery was a space for a petite ballerina to enter. Up until that time, my only experiences with surgeons were derived from the media and hearsay. I thought surgeons were hard, brash, fearless men with tremendous bravado and machismo. What did any of that have to do with me? In fact, I did not embody any of those traits (except, perhaps fearlessness!). I am the eldest daughter of immigrant parents who taught me to be a lady and that education was the road to independence—and a husband, ironically. Although born in the poorest country in the western hemisphere, Haiti, I was privileged to have been raised in a family that had vision, resources, and access. As my mother would often state, I came “with references.” To that end, I was reared to be socially sophisticated, culturally sensitive, and highly educated. Thus, when contemplating the surgical rotation, I came to dread having to go through an experience that often pitted me against all that I was taught to avoid—blood, sweat, and tears. I thought I would be tortured by sleepless nights, crass attitudes, and frequent, unexpected disruptions of the shock and awe of the “knife and gun club” of the inner city. I was. I was also not prepared to face life and death in the same room, at the same time, in the same person. Yet, at a young age, I did.
That sh@* stays with you forever (my apologies, grandmother! I felt the use of a superlative/curse word was quite appropriate!). Before I could enter into the field of my passion, plastic surgery, I had to go through it. To quote musician and iconic subculture figure, Kanye West, “You gotta crawl before you ball.” Trial by fire. A residency in general surgery precedes any surgical subspecialty undertaking. General surgical residency demands much from you and asks you many questions often, for five years, over and over again. Sometimes those questions were open-ended or rhetorical. There were days upon days when I was not sure I could answer any of those questions asked of me, even by me. Do you have what it takes? Can you handle the truth? Are you good enough? Do you like/love what you’re doing? Do you care? What are you made of? Who are you, really? Are you going to make it? Is this what you want to do for the rest of your life? What if you fail? What if someone dies? Week after week of working 120-140 hours left no room to doubt your response. You had to know if you were going to stay. Because if you weren’t, you wanted to practice a little damage control to your soul and get out as soon as you could. In retrospect, I am happy I stayed. I gained valuable experience through my surgical training that continues to add various shades of color to my life on many levels.
More to come!