Sunday, March 21, 2010
training as a surgeon where i trained was somehow secondary to supplying a service. often formal tuition fell away to a senior quickly showing you how to do a specific operation in a somewhat irritated way. half the time you felt embarrassed that you didn't already magically know how to do it so that you could take the immense burden of teaching off the tired shoulders of your overworked senior. the first haemorrhoidectomy i was shown fell pretty much into this mould.
i was still a lowly medical officer when we admitted a patient with a pretty severe thrombosed awkwardness in the nether regions. my senior, a final year registrar, asked me if i had ever done a haemorrhoidectomy. afraid that not having done one would not exempt me from being tasked with doing this one, i discretely pointed out that i had in fact never seen one. i could see the irritation in his face, but he remained calm and told me he would show me how it was done. he then added i'd better pay attention because after showing me one he was never again going to cast his countenance on another anus so long as i worked with him. not wanting to upset his countenance i determined to learn fast.
i remember that haemorrhoidectomy well. i was so on edge to gleam every ounce of wisdom from my senior seeing as though it was to be my only opportunity to learn the procedure. and yet even though he explained every step as he did it it just looked like a bloody mess to me. anyway, that was my training and it had to do. fortunately as the years went by i learned a few tricks, mostly by trial and error, and finally i think i became quite proficient in the procedure.
then, many years later when i had become the senior registrar in the department once again a haemorrhoidectomy found its way onto a list. i expected that i would be the one to do it as i had so many times before. then the boss perused the list. he asked me who had taught me to do a haemmorhoidectomy. when i told him he decided right there that if he had not taught me how to do it, then i probably wasn't doing it correctly. to be honest i thought he might have a point. i mean that operation i had seen so many years ago did simply look like a bloodbath to me. true i had made the operation my own over the years and i even think i had become good at it, but i hadn't really been shown the correct way to do it by someone that at least in his own eyes was an expert. i was actually quite keen to see the operation in the hands of the expert.
at the operation, the boss settled down in the hot seat and prepared to show me his masterpiece.
it was a bloodbath.