You give in to a sin like envy or pride, then you only hurt yourself. Try lust, or coveting, and you’ll only hurt yourself, and probably one or two others. But anger… Anger is the worst. The mother of all sins. Not only can anger drag you over the edge, but when it does, you can take an awful lot of other people with you.
After a while, the ways of residency become the ways of life. 1) always keep score. 2) do whatever you can to outsmart the other guy. 3) don’t make friends with the enemy. Oh, and yeah, 4) everything, everything, is a competition. Whoever said winning wasn’t everything never held a scalpel.
Surgeons are control freaks. With a scalpel in your hand, you feel unstoppable. There’s no fear. There’s no pain. You’re ten feet tall and bulletproof. And then you leave the OR and all that perfection, all that beautiful control, just falls to crap.
Human beings need a lot of things to feel alive. Family. Love. Sex. But we only need one thing to actually be alive. We need a beating heart. When our heart is threatened, we respond in one of two ways. We either run, or we attack. There’s a scientific term for this: Fight or flight. It’s instinct. We can’t control it. Or can we?
As surgeons, we ignore our own needs so we can meet our patients’ needs. We ignore our friends and families, so we can save other people’s friends and families. Which means that, at the end of the day, all we really have is ourselves. And nothing in this world can make you feel more alone than that.
When the great beyond is heading for you, you feel it coming. Whatever it is, it’s creepy. Because, if you know, what do you do about it? Forget about the fact that you’re scared out of your mind? If you knew this was your last day on Earth, how would you want to spend it?
Let’s say you were drafted to a team that wasn’t your first pick. You know, you don’t like the players. You hate the way they play the game. You even think the quarterback is full of crap. The quarterback’s a pain in the ass you don’t owe a damn thing to. But, it’s your team. You don’t quit. You don’t talk to the press. You don’t bitch to the coach. You just…you go out there on Sunday and you make the blocks and you take the hits and you play to win. You show up and you suit up and you play. Because it’s your freaking team.
Too often, going after what feels good means letting go of what you know is right. And letting someone in means abandoning the walls you’ve spent a lifetime building. Of course, the toughest sacrifices are the ones we don’t see coming. When we don’t have time to come up with a strategy, to pick a side, or to measure the potential loss. When that happens, when the battle chooses us, and not the other way around, that’s when the sacrifice can turn out to be more than we can bear.
At the end of the day there are some things you just can’t help but talk about. Some things, we just don’t want to hear. And some things we say because we can’t be silent any longer. Some things are more than what you say, they’re what you do. Some things you say because there’s no other choice. Some things you keep to yourself. And, not too often, but every now and then, some things simply speak for themselves.
I’ve never met a surgeon that enjoys a surprise because, as surgeons, we like to be in the know. We have to be in know, because when we aren’t people die and lawsuits happen…Am I rambling? I think I’m rambling….Ok so, my point, actually, and I do have one, has nothing to do with surprises or death or lawsuits or even surgeons…my point is this: whoever said ‘what you don’t know can’t hurt you’ was a complete and total moron.