‘Surgery’ – comes from the Latin word ‘chirurgia’, or Greek ‘kheirourgia’, meaning ‘working with hands’. A surgeon is one who works with his/her hands. Since I got on to medical school, the field of surgery endeared my heart. I did not think I could ever be a surgeon, but today I cannot think of becoming anything else but a surgeon (I’m not there yet). I’ve always thought that the responsibility of cutting open a person and bringing healing with the knife had to be reserved for the chosen few with the hands, heart and mind set apart from all other mortals. I did not think I was one of them, and certainly did not think I deserved to be one of these elite few. But the road of life has taken me through many turns, and I’ve ended up on this pathway of surgery with much fear and gratitude to the One who has called me to this vocation.

I still believe that surgery is a high calling and I am therefore glad that the training is one that is arduous, long and filled with many challenges. The standards are high, because we have a patient asleep at the other end of our scalpels. The surgical training pushes you to the limits. The training is meant to break you and re-mould you into a surgeon whose mind, heart and hands remain calm under intense pressure. It is for good reasons that many surgical trainees have been broken during the process. It needs to happen.

The last few weeks have been rough for me. It has pushed me to my limits. I have questioned my reasons for doing surgery. I have counted the costs again. Lots of thoughts have been running in my mind. Words have always been my therapeutic outlet. Some words have been uttered unwisely, but others would know that those words are out of character with who I really am. Those negative words uttered in desperation are expressions from a surgical trainee pushed to the limits and pleading for a helping hand, instead of hands that would push me over the boundaries.

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