Thursday, June 26, 2008

Milestone or Finish Line?

Well, staggering, flagging, and hyperventilating, I've made it (coupla' days short, but why wait?) to the two-year mark, bioarcheoblogically. Probably that's within a standard deviation or two of the average blogspan, and I'm not sure I have any more in me. My original intent -- to inform and to entertain, focusing on what it's like to be a surgeon, and to enlighten about some surgical diseases and situations -- seems generally to have been fulfilled and to have run its course.

I'm satisfied with most of the stuff I've written, embarrassed by a few items here and there (one of my posts on anesthesia was so poorly realized and understandably misconstrued as to have engendered some really hateful responses; I didn't take it down, but added an apology at the end. It still bothers me, because in the main my relationship with the givers of the gas was always excellent and one of mutual admiration. Such are the results of hasty writing.) Some of my informational posts, particularly my series on gallbladder issues, still get a steady stream of comments and questions to which I happily respond. Others, of which I'm more proud, creatively, (such as the series on deconstructing an operation, and those describing the exhilaration and honor and responsibility of doing surgery, of touching a person from the inside) are sort of mildly vibrating out there somewhere, nowhere in particular.

On a good day I feel justified in saying that in originally-intended areas, mine was, at least for a while, a useful and maybe even unique voice among the surgeon-bloggers. Now there are several more than when I started, and not only are they really good, they have the advantage of being still in active practice, which provides a steady stream of the new. In only looking back, my view gets increasingly hazy, repetitious. Less au courant.

Of late, many readers know, I've taken to ranting on most weekends. Heartfelt the words may be, but surely nothing unique. In my blithering I doubt I've said anything that hasn't been said many times, and better, elsewhere in cyberspace. Often over the top, I've begun to feel like a bit of a scold. I enjoy the repartee, even when it's pretty acidified (something about the air in emergency rooms?); still, I realize more and more that it's just noise, as opposed to what I was doing for the first one-point-seven-five years. Given the helplessness and frustration I feel in the political scene, ranting is some small measure of action; but it's of no real value except as a pressure-valve to me, and then only a little. The truth is I do find myself more and more frustrated and depressed by it all; yet the temptation to gesticulate and froth at the mouth isn't really doing anyone any good. Neither me, nor you.

So. As I've done a couple of previous times (this one feels different), I'll jack my "Sampler" post to the front of the line and sit back and see if I have anything more to say, sometime down the road a piece. At least one reader has suggested a sort of "Ask Dr. Sid" forum, a la "Ask Dr Rob," done well and humorously elsewhere. I guess I'd be different from Rob if I stick to things surgical and keep it straight. Otherwise, I think Surgeonsblog may have come to the end of its useful life. If I end up going back to work (not yet entirely sure), some good new stuff might be generated.

Meanwhile, "Sampler" is just that. The archive remains: there's lots more in there.


mark's tails said...

Well I for one will keep checking back, just on the off chance...
I've enjoyed your posts and the occasional rant as well.
Take Care Dr. Sid.

Jens Knudsen (Sili) said...

I may not have been the most faithful of readers, but I'm gonna miss you and your rants. From this side of the pond it's very healthy to be reminded that there are still reasonable people in the US.

I still think an agony column of sorts could be a good thing. It will be a way of expanding your mentoring to young surgeons who don't have the benefit of such a programme. And doing real life mentoring will likely help you see what sorta advice will be the most helpful to them.

Thank you and good luck!

Not Important said...

Dr. Schwab,

Thanks for the couple of years of posts. I greatly appreciate the time you took to enlighten and entertain us.

I'll keep you in my RSS reader in the hopes that I'll still see something pop up on occasion.

Best of luck to you and yours. I am

Yours truly,

Anonymous said...

Dr. Schwab,

Thanks for all of your writings.Having trained in the same era as you, I share many of your views and feelings.(well maybe not so much with politics but anyway.)
I envy you for possibly being able to return to the job at least part time-for internists those chances are more than hard to find at least dong what internists used to do.

James Gaulte

Dr. Rob said...

I do think the light-hearted is therapeutic. Anything turns into work after a while if you don't keep things mixed up.

Imitation is the best form of flattery, and if you did an "ask Dr. Sid" I would be most delighted.

You are a delight to read.


Lizzie said...

I would be rather sad if you decided never to post again, as I have always enjoyed reading your posts, finding them insightful and well written (even your rants!) I also want to echo sili - it is lovely as Briton to hear voices of reason coming from the US.

Thank you and take care :)

LizzieC (Hoping you pop online and post now and again)

mibsphil said...

I will miss you! Thank you for your insightful, well written and thought provoking posts. I, too, will keep checking back--just in case. I wish you well.

Anonymous said...


I've had so much fun putting on my virtual bunny suit and peering over your shoulder in the OR. I'm going to miss that feeling of great discovery, minus the uncomfortable mask, the smell of the bovie and freezing OR air!

Thanks so much for providing so much great writing, fascinating stories and most of all, for your humanity in the face of inhumanity.

The best to you wherever the next step takes you! Lucky the mentee you snags you as the mentor!

(And like GDad and others, I'm keeping you in my reader as well, hoping that the writing addiction isn't entirely broken. *grin*)

Anonymous said...

Sid, I give you two weeks before the need to blog will overcome your current state of mind. You love the adulation and blogging is a reasonably low-risk way to vent your frustration.

And you'll sell more books. Don't forget the synergy.

carmen! said...

I've been reading your blog for a long time now and loving it. I haven't commented before, but I just wanted to put my voice in as one of the many people who will miss your writing.

I'd love to hear about what you're getting up to in the meantime, and I'd definitely love to see the "ask dr schwab" forum. Good luck with whatever you choose!

Lynn Price said...

Sid, even though we sit on opposite sides of the political fence, and I feel as politically depressed as you but probably for different reasons, I've always found your blog one of the highlights of my morning.

You've brought humanity to medicine, and that is a particular soft point with me, considering the novels I write. I wish nothing but the best. Thanks so much for sharing.

Justine Johnston Hemmestad said...

Dr. Schwab,
Maybe you just need to change it up now. Maybe change the title of your blog (to a more creative writing theme) - but let your loyal readers know where to find you:), and post your stories instead. Just a thought.
Keep Writing.

scalpel said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and insights with us. We started blogging at about the same time, you and I, and I have enjoyed every one of your posts.

You have my utmost respect as a physician and a writer, and the world would certainly be a better place if you returned to the practice of both.


gay CME guy said...


Let me add my name to the roster that will miss your stories, as well as your rants. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog (& book). Best wishes & warm regards.

Anonymous said...

Sid: Everyone will miss you and everyone you mentor will be blessed. I remember Michael Jordan's three retirements; each time he came back to win championships. I personally believe we have not seen the last surgeon's blog from your mind, which needs a place to vent, to teach and perhaps to rant. All best always.

Stethoschope said...

Cheers, Sid.

Following you almost from the start, I won't even begin to describe the ways your blog influenced my way of thinking in general, and on my own road to MDhood, specifically.

I hope you find your place in the future, and I hope it will continue to include the blog, at least from the time to time.

All and only the best to you, Take care.

Sid Schwab said...

Stethoschope: likewise, I won't begin to tell you how good a comment like that makes me feel.

rlbates said...

I like Dr Baldwin's thinking. Hope you come back to tell us more stories. Take care.

david said...

Dr. Sid,

I first encountered your blog soon after I underwent a mastectomy and as I was about to start chemo and that whole mess of unpleasantness. The first entry I recall reading was Taking Trust, and it made a great impact on me, showing me a bit of the other side of the surgeon/patient relationship.

Since then your blog has been the only blog I subscribe to that I consistently sit down, clear space for, and savor. I will admit to skimming over a couple of the weekend rants, simply because I agreed too strongly to have my own frustrations so well voiced.

Thank you so much for the time, the energy, the candor that you have put into this blog. I, like others, hope that you will come back to it and post more, perhaps with new experiences and insights. But I'm not greedy- you have already touched me and affected me and changed and re-humanized my views on the medical profession and my own medical care.

I believe you have so much more to say, but I am immensely grateful for what you have already said.

Unknown said...

I'm just gettin' started here?! Who's going to be my mentor? You know you can't resist. The keyboard is calling to you! You are powerless against the dark forces of the blogosphere! Carry-on! Quitters never win and winners drink too much!

Sid Schwab said...

David: thank you. Extremely much.

Anonymous said...

There's no rule or maxim that says you have to post at terrifically regular intervals...instead of giving up on blogging entirely, how about posting something like a "monthly montage" or whatever; some of those posts with the umpteen links in them are really the best in terms of content. Or post something intriguing or interesting from your many years of experience, even if it's just to let us know you haven't given up on blogging entirely. Or perhaps if you do decide to give up on blogging, you should consider writing another book...I certainly enjoyed the first one, and I wouldn't have ever discovered it without reading this blog first! Count me in the long list of people who would miss you terribly if you stopped blogging! (And if you do that, whatever you do, don't take this blog down entirely...the archives would still have value.)

Just two cents from a wannabe.

Jeffrey Parks MD FACS said...

I have a feeling we havent seen the last of Doc Schwab. Keep writing, old man. I'll miss your regular posts. Stay in touch...

Katie said...

Dr. Sid,
I've been a reader for some time and hadn't posted a comment because I felt everyone else had already said it better. Just want to say you're a very gifted writer, and an inspiration to someone about to start med school. I especially appreciated your detailed descriptions of surgery and memorable patients. I enjoyed your rants too- you wrote about the issues I care about much more eloquently than I could. Sad to see you go for now, and I hope you'll be back at least now and again.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dr. Schwab, I said once that your blog was the BEST, and I still think that. I was never very interested in the blog world because I assumed it was 20 yr olds being rude and crude to each other. Then I read your posts and realized blogging was MD's and Pharmacists being rude and crude to each other! just kidding. I will miss reading your posts. The writing is exceptional, the subjects were interesting and informative, and the links & photos were often hilarious. Best of luck with your new endeavors and please feel free to keep us informed! I feel like I'm losing an imaginary friend. : - )

Sid Schwab said...

spynster: I was always sort of proud of my humorous links. Not many seem to have noticed them. So thanks!

The Caffeine Lady said...

It was an honour to read your book and blog-- there were so many wonderful, insightful and inspirational posts. I'd recommend them to any medical student aspiring to specialise in surgery. Your blog was truly an experience in itself.

Best of luck, Dr Schwab.

Anonymous said...

Sid - I read a number of medical blogs out of a general interest in medicine, which is totally unrelated to my career. Yours is the one that I have enjoyed most in terms of interesting content (medical and political), the quality of your writing and your compassion. I hope you feel moved now and then to post here, on any subject.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Schwab,

Thank you for sharing your wonderful insights into surgery. I have been a faithful reader of your blog almost since its beginning. Your blog quickly became my favorite, and I eagerly looked forward to every new story.

I have often wondered what I would have experienced had I become a doctor instead of straying from that path and finishing in computer science. The wondrous things that I have learned from your posts and book have given me a taste of what I have missed, and these insights have also deepened my regret that I did not pursue medicine. I am very grateful to you for giving me this view into the medical field.

Thank you for all the effort that you put into your writings and into your work as a surgeon. I will miss all the thoughts that you have so generously shared with us. I will check your blog often in hopes that you will one day decide to post again.

I wish you all the best. I am sure that you will be, just as you have been, exceptional in all that you do.

Bongi said...

i'm sure time will give you more pearls to share with us.

as always i'll stop by regularly to check for updated.

your blog is and has always been excellent.

Anonymous said...

Everything I'll be writing here has probably been said before, but this was the blog that was on top of my bookmarks. Sad to see it go, and like many others, I still hope there will be more updates (even when these would be less frequent).
Reading this blog and some others has actually helped me much. I'v just finished my fourth year of medicine, but in my first year, studying all the chemistry and physics (which is most of first year over here in Belgium), I've been doubting my choice for medicine. Reading medical blogs, especially Surgeonsblog, is one of the factors that helped me come to the conclusion that I had made the right choice. I was always intrigued by the stories.
Actually, just a few days ago, while doing my GI-system exam, I couldn't help but think of this blog while describing the Whipple procedure to the professor.
(The blog always was a nice pause during 'study-marathons' the days before my exams:-) )
It has always been a pleasure to read your blog, so I just need to add a sincere thank you.


(my english isn't perfect for which I apologize...)

Unknown said...

I only recently stumbled upon your blog so I have almost some enjoyable back reading to do. What I've read, I enjoyed. I read the post on anesthesiologists and frankly, (as an anesthesiologist) I don't understand the hubub. I suppose that those easily insulted have a reason to be insulted whether it is low self-esteem or poor professionalism. From what you wrote I assume that you never hesitated to express your appreciation to a good anesthesiologist. In my most recent post I mention that I appreciate being appreciated. It means that the surgeon is worthy of reciprocal respect.

JP said...

I've only been haunting your blog for 1/4 its life, but I've read almost every post and comment to follow... Both have been a unique source of comfort, entertainment, education and (for me) political validation. Thanks for putting it all out there like no one else. And also for easing readers into your blogging retirement (I'm still in denial). Best wishes!

Anonymous said...

From someone on the patient end, I will really miss this thoughtful and enlightening blog. I learned so much. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

You know I'm a huge fan, and I hope to continue to be your friend, blogging or not. You've been an inspiration to me and many more. We may not have witnessed your surgical skill, but we've marveled at your sharpest blade, dissecting surgical problems from many angles and revealing the joy you show for the privilege of what you do.

I suspect you'll be back in some form or fashion, but until then, thanks for making the blogosphere a better place. May our paths cross again in even more and better ways. Peace.

Doctor David said...

Yours is one of the first medical blogs I found after starting my own. I've enjoyed it ever since.

I'll especially miss your rants. The world needs more people who care about what's beyond their own immediate self-interest and who can rant in such a well-thought-out way.

All the best in whatever direction life takes you,


Sid Schwab said...

Thanks, David. And I liked your most recent post on benign vs malignant. There's a recentstory locally about a man with neurofibromatosis, an "elephant man" story, with horribly disfiguring facial tumors, and it reinforces what you said.

SeaSpray said...

No! I'm sorry Dr Schwab...but I don't accept your resignation of sorts.

Nope! You do have too much in ARE a walking wealth of med/surgical information and I think perhaps one well with in you has run dry but no doubt others will come bubbling up.

Also...think of a brush fire. Everything is so dry that when a spark touches turns into a wildfire.

You helped me so much when I was afraid to have the surgery in winter 07. Now it appears the old stricture did block and I am currently tolerating a ureteral stent the size of a telephone pole.

It seems surgery is indicated again and I have been giving the option of doing this once a year to keep ureter open instead of open surgery. For now...I am opting for plan B. I want to use the time to get healthier (should have been all along)and then I will reconsider.

I'll have to put my thinking cap on because as my urologist could attest to...I am the queen of asking questions. I'll give you some. :)

I am so grateful for all you have written and admire how you take the time to interact with your commenters. You do have one of the most interesting blogs and comment sections. You are such an eloquent writer and you brought the OR to life for this lay person.

Now heres the thing...I HATE good byes. I am not good at don't make me do it.

Hey...I never said I wasn't selfish! ;)

Anonymous said...

Sid, do you know, you're an entire blog-ecosystem: not just the comments, but the links to the commenters. I have found quite a few good writers among them, too, but yours is the best and the one whose bookmark I keep at the top.

Restless Med Student said...


Your insight and commentary has helped me a lot as a med student. I'll keep you bookmarked in hopes of new posts.

Ros said...

S'been a pleasure. I think I've been all the way through the archives since I found my way here a few months ago, and there's definitely quality material here. Hope you sold a lot of books. :)

Oh, and for my 2 cents, you can't keep a good rant down. It doesn't do anything but make you feel better, but as long as you understand that rants still have a high utility place in the blogosphere, IMHO.

Anonymous said...

Let's just say I'd rather read about your gesticulating and frothing at the mouth more than any other surgeon out there! : D

As I mentioned in my email, your link stays up and we'll miss you like nobody's business.

It's been a hell of a great 2 years.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Schwab,
Thank you for your words! Please check out another medical man (in Scotland, though) whose writing moves me. The Dec 25, 2007 post in particular reminded me of a post you wrote about a sledding child.

ditzydoctor said...

i'll miss you lots, dr sid! :(

Sid Schwab said...

dd: me, too.

Lisa said...

Dammit Sid, get back here and blog!!!

*miss you*

Sid Schwab said...

Thanks, Lisa. In my mind I've written a million posts lately, but they're all political, ranting into the winds of cynical politics and hypocritical electorate. Surgery, not so much. (Maybe something amusing about "sports hernia," which seems to be the surgical equivalent of fibromyalgia.) But they stay locked in my head, or come out as exasperated sighs to my wife.

Lisa said...

Well, you know what they say: You can always start up a new (political) blog.

It may help vent it out and I'd like to hear what you have to say, quite seriously. :)

*confused, registered independent*

hth! Glad to hear back from you. :)

Anonymous said...

You blogged, you blogged, yay! Even if you turned the comments off and I had to scroll down to here.

Anonymous said...

very nice blog site some how i found you looking for things on our sons birth defect esophageal atresia, i wish you all the best.


Moving this post to the head of the list, I present a recently expanded sampling of what this blog has been about. Occasional rant aside, i...