Sunday, November 15, 2009

people try and hide the night

Sleeping is giving in, no matter what they tell us
Sleeping is giving in, so lift your heavy eyelids

You might think, from the way I post around here, that I've just been on surgery rotations for the whole of the past six months. Because it's the only time I seem to write about anything. For a while, this fact really bothered me in the sense of oh holy sh*tmonkeys, am I destined to become a surgeon, fml?!? But revisiting the OR this past week, I've become more aware of why I find myself writing about it.

First of all, there's the whole novelty of it. One of the things I've learned this past year is that the easier rotations are the ones you have no interest in doing for the rest of your career; strangeness makes sense. I treat all surgical endeavors like I am visiting the set of a movie or a distant planet or something similarly completely out of my sphere of reality.

Then, there's the fact that surgery is a magnet for ridiculous personalities. Perhaps that's why surgeries are so often the subject of fictionalizations of hospitals. All the characters are down there in their scrubs, equal parts bravado, brains, and eccentricities. You know what you're getting into with surgery. You don't expect kid gloves, you don't expect to be treated well, you don't expect forgiveness.

Then there's the simplicity of knowing what you can expect from surgery and surgeons. You expect to be worked to the bone, and you expect to be shamed, and you rise to that sort of humiliation because usually there is low-hanging, tangible fruit to grab to escape embarrassment. Surgeons may grumble about how you haven't memorized every artery or ligament, but if you can manage to tie a good knot, well, then you might be spared a complete flogging as a med student. Is it a good and useful way to educate? Not really. But it's predictable.

This song was randomly played in the OR this past week, but I was thinking of how apt it is. Surgeons are on this kind of crack; they convince themselves that rest is for the weak, a chance to cut is a chance to cure, and medical complexities are not worthy of their attention.

I mean, also this Arcade Fire song is independently an a$$ kicker. It's filled with mischief and energy, and as soon as it came on in the OR, I wanted to shout out, oh it's you, old friend! Like an old drinking buddy visiting from out of town reminding you of why you were always so fond of them. I heard it and was refueled for the rest of the very long day.

That's the difference, I guess. Internal Medicine, which is probably where my future lies, prompts me to want to pull out Billie Holiday and have a stiff drink- and that's a post for another time when I've a lot more capacity for introspection. With Surgery, I get a peppy Arcade Fire or Phoenix song, and convince myself all of this is so temporary, it will be gone before I have time to be completely exhausted by it.

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