A hospital is many different things to many different people. To the patients lucky enough to get good treatment, it is a bastion of hope, a house of healing, or at worse an inconvenient stopover. To patients not so lucky, it can be a surgical slaughterhouse, a Prophecy-House of Doom, or The Official Scariest Place on The Planet. We medical personnel however, being trained and of sound mind, recognise the hospital for what it really is. And so among us it is known by the colloquial terms Prison Of Souls, Camp Auschwitz, or more favoured here in the UK, Azkaban. (Unless, of course, you're completely out of your mind, as defined in the previous post, in which case you might call a hospital a place of learning, an arena of competition to see who can scrub in on the most cases in the shortest amount of time, or worse, the Garden of Eden. In which case kindly send me your address so I can dispatch a nice genial contract killer from Thailand to come visit you. *sweet smile*)
However, there are some for whom the hospital transcends all its earthly definitions, for whom the squeaky-clean, sterile-smelling walls and corridors resemble a more cosmic design, for whom the Operation Theatres are more like sacrificial altars.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is the Surgeon.
This particular species of medical practitioner stalks the corridors looking for fresh acolytes to convert, fresh sacrifices upon their surgical altars, and expecting worship and praise from all who deign to gaze upon their heavenly visages. Heaven help all who cross the Surgeon, for he is infallible, invulnerable, and not entirely human.
Heck, even if you're not a surgeon but simply a brilliant diagnostician with a cane, you can still fall victim to the God complex. We all feel it at times...when you bring a patient back from the brink of death, when you ligate an artery, suture a wound, when life and death seem to be in your hands. So it's really easy to forget that even doctors get sick.
While I was out this morning I met Professor David Riches, Director of Studies for Medicine at Gonville & Caius College, and one of the best anatomy demonstrators I have ever had the privilege of studying under. Prof Riches was a First Class graduate from the University of London, where he became a dermatologist before coming to teach anatomy at Cambridge. He also means something to me personally because he helped found the International Medical University in Malaysia, where many of my friends study. Here is a man whose passion for his job shines through whenever he teaches; he often describes anatomical features from an embryological point of view, enabling his students to understand more deeply (he has the highest count of "aaaaaaaahh NOW I see" moments from his students) and at the same time inspiring them with his passion.
About 4 weeks ago Prof Riches suffered a heart attack, after coming home from a vacation. When I saw him today, he looked much thinner than before. Thankfully, he appears to be well on the road to recovery.
We wish you well, Professor. It's great to have you back among us.
“I am here for a purpose and that purpose is to grow into a mountain, not to shrink to a grain of sand. Henceforth will I apply ALL my efforts to become the highest mountain of all and I will strain my potential until it cries for mercy.”
Here's also a link to a doctor's account of suffering a stroke. Just shows you how much we take for granted.