Like a Surgeon

Like a Surgeon

Collected here are some images, melodies, and moments to translate what surgery feels like to me, plus some thrown in just for laughs.  Recommendations welcome. 

Chris Porter MD – OnSurg founder

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      1. Extreme mountain biking – Working with little room for error.
      2. KD Lang covers Hallelujah – This song recreates what I felt after surgery, in the quiet locker-room moment alone before talking to the father of the young man in the story below.
      3. Wingsuit base jumping – Don’t start something you can’t finish.
      4. John Mayer jams with Dave Matthews – Reminds me of the beauty of a universal skill. Like Mayer here, a surgeon can make it happen with any team, anywhere in the world.
      5. Riding out – A case can get a little scary, and you keep your cool, stay ahead.  Then it gets really scary, and you must be even cooler.

More videos below.

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How it Feels to be a Surgeon A 20-year-old man nearly bled to death on my operating table when I was a small-town surgeon.  I pinged every synapse of my brain to save him – summoning surgical principles, accessing Netter atlases folded on gyri, and recalling procedures I’d only read about.  I exhausted my strength trying to control a severed artery – one hand inside the thorax, the other outside – while planning an exit strategy. 444

I marshaled my community:  the caring and dedicated local on-call team, the University trauma surgeon (by phone).  I praised my own teachers and the world giants who developed the lifesaving techniques we employed. Sweat-soaked and aching at the end of the case, I took off my gown to speak to the patient’s father.  I felt like scientist, priest, and game-winning athlete. After, I raced home adrenaline-intoxicated with Queen’s We are the Champions cranked on the stereo. Windows open to ocean breeze, I exulted the chorus and drove banking curves way too fast. I knew my privilege in that moment.  Few people get to perform when actions count for so much, or even trust themselves for such duty under a ticking clock.  Soldiers, police, and firefighters come to mind.  Few selves actualize – consummating years of marathon study and clumsy practice to realize a graceful performance.  Artists and athletes come to mind.

Chris Porter MD – OnSurg founder

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    1. Bach – With much practice and concentration comes a chance to perform beautifully.
    2. Nadal, Federer, and Eminem – Concentration, precision, and endurance
    3. Top Gun – Operative trauma feels like this.
    4. Lindsay Vonn – Not afraid.
    5. History and future of surgery – TED lecture
    6. Quarterback – Racing the clock, calling the shots, working with your hands and your team.
    7. Von Thord – Forever re-inventing old craft.
    8. Atul Gawande and Steven Colbert – Not really on theme for this page, but both these guys are really cool, and one is a surgeon.
    9. Prefontaine, ’72 Olympics – Giving legendary effort, and seeing defeat nonetheless.
    10. On a Precipice – Backing out may be harder than moving on, and you can’t know which is the case.
    11. Brain Surgeon – Speaks for itself.
    12. Engine Stall – Improvising.
    13. Recuerdos de la Alhambra – Simple, complex, beautiful work.
    14. Freerunning – Precision takes practice. Performing takes guts.
    15. Rocky II – This one is more like residency.
    16. Get Back – Talented, dedicated teams create great performances.
    17. Good Will – Sometimes it’s cool to be the smart one.
    18. Jordan – Clutch player.
    19. Weird Al
    20. Marines – Discipline. Work ethic. Instinct to go where the action is.
    21. LeBron James – Leading a team. Confident action while the clock ticks
    22. Real Surgeon! Total inspiration – Susan Lim: Singapore transplant surgeon facing unimaginable ethical challenges.joe-mabel-2-186x300
    23. Letterman – Dave thanks his surgeon.
    24. Maradona – Imagine the practice behind this execution.
    25. God complex – Whoah!
    26. Captain of the Ship
    27. A tear-jerking nod to pediatric surgeons and those pioneering new techniques – a young girl tells of finding her surgeon.

Suggest One – Link us to something like surgery feels to you.

 

 

Dr Porter writes about his experience as a surgeon at On Surgery, etc. and tweets at @PorterOnSurg