I was ear-wigging this morning.
I know it is a bad habit, but sometimes you just can’t help yourself.
I had been called to see a patient on the surgical ward – an old woman & when I say ‘old’ (rather than ‘older’) – I am justified this time; she was 100.
I was looking through the notes, reviewing the outcomes of the tests on her centennial kidneys and heart;
And one of the surgeons was on the phone. I don’t know who they were talking with – perhaps a secretary or an anaesthetist, when ‘the obese appendix’ was mentioned.
I tried not to look-up; I didn’t want to give-away my snaffling of this disease-centred gem.
And my point?
Well, it is that the person on the phone – the surgeon, is likely a great guy – he, has probably saved more people from death than anyone I know; reversed the progress of cancer and haemorrhage in more people old and young than any foolhardy physician; he is likely to have altered the trajectory of existences far beyond anything I can imagine.
Yet, this objectification rolls of his tongue;
And what should I do?
It is self-evident that working as a surgeon is tough; many years training, long hours on call, operating, working with teams, groupings of individuals who don’t always see the world the same way.
What do we want?
Do we want the objectified surgeon, or no surgeon?
Yes, we want the person-centred, holistic, all-inclusive operator who has the verisimilitude to function in all environments – an all-terrain operative.
Am I going to wake-up from my anaesthetic when someone whose approach I don’t favour is performing life-saving treatment for my perforated bowel? No – I’ll likely take the money and run; evaluate the ethics afterwards.
And it gets complicated.
Like a curly-wurly of protocol, compassion and agenda.
What would you want?