Monday, October 16, 2006
An "Ah-Ha" moment
Allow me a brief diversion, not intended to delay the return to hernias. In my recent post, "Taking Trust," in which I tried to describe an aspect of the mysterious relationship between surgeon and patient -- being allowed, given the privelege, to reach inside another person -- my words "creeped out" a few people. Of course, that makes me feel bad, in that I'd like as a writer to be able to express my thoughts clearly enough that they aren't misinterpreted, and in that as a surgeon my relation to my patients is and was anything but creepy. In my ruminations and recriminations over the post, something just occurred to me: something I of course assumed, but which not everyone who read the post may know. Us older surgeons, who trained before CAT scans and laparoscopy, were taught (required!) to "explore" the abdomen as part of any abdominal surgery. Before attending to the problem at hand, in a systematic and thorough way, we felt every organ in order to be sure no other pathology was present, and to (in the case of cancers) look for signs of spread (you may be surprised to know that most intestinal cancers can, for instance, spread to ovaries). The exploration was expected to be done, and the results included in the reported operative findings. Far from "taking liberties," it was as important a part of the procedure as sewing up at the end. It didn't occur to me until now that my description of that -- poetic or not -- without explaining why I was doing it could be part of what some people found weird. Or not.