Friday, March 13, 2015

Feeling Like You Have No Control Over Your Destiny

This very short blog piece serves as some background information for the next piece.

When I was a surgeon in training, there was obvious rivalry between two members of the unit. If one of the pair liked you, your time with the other was going to be challenging if not miserable.  It wasn’t necessarily vice versa because you could always be facing the wrath of both with the result of saying goodbye to your surgical career. You did not have a choice. It was like the sorting hat in Harry Potter that chooses your house.  

The surgeon who did not take a shine to me was often critical and certainly made little effort to engage with me about matters unrelated to surgery. This did not worry me so much for the fact that I was in constant fear of having my career axed if I put a step out of place.  I was not one of the "boys" - I was from an ethnic background, went to a public school and had no interest at that time in rugby union.  I was everything that establishment surgery was not.  My colleague mentioned in my next blog piece was one of the "boys" and went on to socialise with him outside the work setting.

He enjoyed having an audience in his operating room. Typically there would be 12 to 15 people and depending upon the week it might be other doctors, nursing students or physiotherapy students.  On one occasion, he left me to close the wound so he could step out to make some phone calls. When I reached the skin closure, he came back into the room and yelled at me "Gee Henry, you're meant to be getting better, not worse" and stormed out of the room.  For that moment, it felt like there were 100 people in the room.  I was totally and absolutely humiliated.  

This was the most stressful period of surgical training.

Related Blog Piece - click below
It was all my fault that a patient died

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