while i am on the topic of the amazing ability surgeons have to show empathy, i thought i'd share a story one of my friends once told me about a professor he had in another university. but it also touches somewhat on where the priorities of a surgeon should be during surgery.
it was late at night and the prof was actually at the table operating (something so rare in our place of learning it also made me wonder if i'd maybe chosen the wrong university). it was in fact around the time when students struggle to stay awake. but on the whole it is not the best idea to display this weakness while scrubbed in with the prof.
the prof was the primary surgeon (something that made me glad i didn't choose that university), the registrar stood opposite him as the first assistant and some poor tired student stood next to the prof as the second assistant. i use the word stood in its loosest possible definition because he was struggling to remain in the upright position. every now and again he would slouch against the professor until in irritation the prof would thump his elbow into the student's ribs. this would result in a good five to ten minutes of good assistance from the student. thereafter his head would sag and come to rest once again on the shoulder of the prof. i'm sure it made a pretty and even touching picture. pity the prof didn't feel the same.
and so the operation went on with the student's sporadic moments of wakefulness and the prof's temper becoming equally short. finally the prof decided on another strategy. as the student's head once again sagged, looking for that warm and snug nook on the prof's shoulder, the prof took one large step back. the student's limp sleeping body found no comforting shoulder where one had been previously and went down like a ton of bricks, right in front of the feet of the prof. he then looked down at the dazed student lying at his feet, carefully stepped over him, back to the table and spoke.
"bring vir my 'n student wat nie stukkend is nie!"*
*bring me a student that isn't broken/defective