The Mystical World of Surgery

Is It Magical or Mystical?

I like to think of it as the mystical world of surgery. Growing up, having had surgery myself and for other members of my family, I was mystified. Having had my tonsils removed at a young age (a procedure that is rarely done today) when I was 5 years old. If memory serves me right, I was in a room with a bunch of other kids who were there for the same procedure. “Who wants to go first?” As a result, not knowing any better I volunteered. Got a needle in my bottom and then next thing I remember was waking up with a terrible sore throat in the recovery room.

I Thought What had happened???

Let’s take a look at a typical surgery scenario realizing that things are different today than when I was a child. Plus, let’s use the scene of a major operation, not one that is performed in an out-patient setting. The patient undergoing the procedure is wheeled in a stretcher or chair through what I like to call the “secret chamber” double doors. They typically are saying good-bye to their family or friends.

Surgery

Then positioned on the Operating Room (OR) table and staff try to make them comfortable. Sedation can be started in the holding area or is administered at this point in the OR. The anesthesia administered can be what is commonly called “twilight” or full blown general anesthesia. Hence, the result is the same as when I had my tonsils removed; they wake up in recovery with pain appropriate to the area operated on.

What do family/friends see?

From a family or friend perspective, the patient goes through these double doors into, again, what I have termed the “secret chamber”. This is where the “mystical world of surgery” occurs. Upon completion of this untimed event, the patient emerges, with the only evidence of its occurrence is an incision covered by a bandage. There will be varying degrees of pain and depressed levels of consciousness depending on whether it was “twilight” sleep or full blown general anesthesia. Again, what had happened?

incision

The Mystical World of Surgery

Merriam Webster defines “mystical” as reality that is neither apparent to the senses nor obvious to the intelligence. I sometimes think of the surgeon like a magician, one who never reveals how the “trick” is carried out. Surgeons, as well as the rest of their team, know what has gone on but the details are really unknown outside that chamber. Although I am not saying that the surgeon is performing tricks per se, it is an analogy. Yet they carry out their tasks with precision, expertise, and care.

Mirror reflection
What does one see?

I really don’t think that surgeons see themselves as magicians and what they do as mystical. In addition, they don’t necessarily always totally appreciate the powers and skills they possess and the results they achieve. Training and education and repetition has brought them to that stage in their careers. As a result, humility and meekness tend not to be integral qualities of a surgeon as they deal with life and death, sometimes many times a day. Arrogance and egotistism may sneak in. Regardless of how perception describes them, they perform miracles everyday in the mystical world of surgery.

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