Confessions of a surgeon 

During many years of practicing surgery in the community, I have often had to make decisions with life-and-death consequences, in complete cold-blooded isolation from my inner emotions are biases. Often, before I can even begin to process the consequence of these decisions, I’m faced with another, and yet another. Some days, my job does not allow me the privilege of being human…

Despite the urge to feel immortal after plucking out a ruptured spleen and saving a life, I am frequently reminded of my imperfections and mortality. Imperfections often arrive in the form of complications, such as accidentally making a hole in an artery or misdiagnosing a problem. My mortality often presents itself disguised as a patient.

My job here is to remove the offending organ, as quickly as possible. But putting someone through a major surgery is no guarantee that he or she will ever wake up. I am often called as a last resort, the Calvary, to make the final decision on life or death. Part of me loves being in this position and part of me would like to crawl under a rock rather than face it. This is why I went into surgery, particularly general surgery.

This is why my job is never boring. Among the elective, routine operations I often perform – repairing a hernia, removing a diseased gallbladder, taking out a thyroid gland – I need moments like this. Situations like this keep the fires burning deep inside my soul and never let me forget how human I am…

Confessions of a surgeon, By Paul A.Ruggieri, MD


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