It was one of those nights when I didn’t stop to catch my breath for even a couple of minutes. My phone rang constantly; patients kept arriving; operating room in use for the entire night. When I found the time to gaze outside, rain was pouring; the sky gray with first light on a cloudy, rainy day. I knew that I wasn’t going to get my early morning run accomplished but I will more than compensate for it by the sheer amount of work that came my way overnight. This is the life of a surgeon on call and I thoroughly embrace it.
Stepping out into the morning grayness and wet, I am thankful for that hot shower, hot French Roast coffee and the opportunity to listen to jazz as I drove to my academic office. I have early morning office hours and enough paperwork to complete for the next two weeks. I am also hoping that my pilot friend Mike gets into town for a much anticipated visit. I need to fly with him and get my wings back into shape. My heart has been battered; my spirit stabbed but not completely broken because my medicine is affirming for me. I treat my patients, seeing miracles in each one as I give my best always. If not for my practice, I would not have survived the past few weeks.
Because my medicine/surgery goes so well, I am revisiting taking an overseas assignment. I know that I had promised that I would stay and settle down a bit but the cool air, unrelenting pace of my call night and my love of operating in a war zone is calling me. I am in fabulous physical condition; something that wasn’t true on my last overseas assignment. This time things will be different and I welcome the challenge of taking on an assignment in a place where the need is greatest. I see the humanity in helping those who have so little left in terms of seeing some good from any resource. I can be the resource for these people.
As I drove to my academic office, I thought of how I have nothing here and nothing to lose. I am of no value here and can be easily replaced but in the open assignment, I have great value by my specific training. Here, I am dismissed and devalued; over there, my color is meaningless because when the burned flesh arrives, when the blood starts to flow and when the bones are shattered, I can relieve much of the suffering. Here, I suffer and it’s as plain as that. I am ready for this challenge and I am ready to go. As my call night went last night, I welcome operating around the clock; touching the lives of those who have the greatest needs and honing my craft even more. This is my solitary life that I embrace.