I started volunteering to bring communion to people in the hospital this month. This is very important to me so I invested countless hours preparing myself to do this well.
Knowing I would be be face to face with people who may be very sick or dying, one of the things I did was read a bunch of books written by doctors and nurses. See, I am in Aurora, Colorado where a bunch of people were recently shot in a theater…young people.
I realized if I were doing this work at that time, I’d have been visiting some of these people and I think it would have been hard on me. Very hard. Since this work is not about me, I realized I had to do something that would allow me to transcend whatever blocks I had (Saturn/Neptune). I decided to try to learn from people in the medical field who had the skills I needed. I researched this exhaustively and it worked.
As part of this process I read, “Confessions of a Surgeon: The Good, the Bad, and the Complicated…Life Behind the O.R. Doors”. It helped me along with many other sources but what got to me in this book, was the chapter. In the last chapter, the surgeon talks about being sued.
Now after reading the book, we see the effort this man makes. He makes the initial effort to become a surgeon and once he achieves this, he continues to strive in many different ways. Now don’t misunderstand me. He does not paint himself as some kind of saint. It’s just that there is a lot to grapple with when you’re cutting into someone’s body, or when you have to tell them their cancer is inoperable or whatever. He’s got to manage power and risk on many levels. He’s got to manage his ego. He’s got to manage his natural inclination to pass on high-risk patients to protect himself.
The book is all about this kind of stuff. By the time you reach the last chapter, you have a decent idea what it is like to be a surgeon via just this one man’s account. I was feeling a lot of respect when I hit the last chapter.
In the last chapter he talks about being sued (unjustly) but also about his feelings in general. You can do all this good for years and years and years and one error and BAM. You’re going to be crucified. There is no allowance whatsoever, that a doctor or a surgeon be human. You’ve got to bat 1000, each and every time or else. He talks about the cost of malpractice insurance which we’ve all heard about by now. And he talks about the shortage of surgeons which is when it really become eye-opening.
There are already not enough surgeons. With the population aging, there is increased demand for surgery and these patients who need surgery and more and more high risk. He is very candid in writing about how difficult (and dangerous) it is to operate on someone who is obese. Remember, if something goes wrong, the surgeon is at fault so it’s quite a quandary.
Bottom line, we’re not going to have fewer and fewer people willing to operate on us if we continue to insist they perform like gods, as we pay them less and less and make their jobs harder and harder. We’re just not forgiving as a group and I find this true for myself as well. I am always, always trying at my job and often feel people just can’t wait to slam me down.
Do you find people to be unforgiving? Why are we like this? What is the pay-off and is it really worth it?