Sleight of hand, sharpness of wits. Blood stained, sweaty browed, stiff necked, he stands. Yet he stands upright. Stance firm, piloting up to four instruments at a time.
The surgeon, almost arrogantly confident, always a little too loud, always sure of himself. So much so, that you can’t help but wonder whether it is in fact blind certainty, or a facade to mask any lingering doubts. His decision is absolute.
Hands plunged deep inside an cavity, searching, rearranging. The vibrations of the operating table jolt me back to my senses. A reminder that that’s in fact a human being, under the drapery and bloodstains. A realisation, that what he’s doing is no less than assisting the work of God himself.
“As a surgeon you have to have a controlled arrogance. If it’s uncontrolled, you kill people, but you have to be pretty arrogant to saw through a person’s chest, take out their heart and believe you can fix it. Then, when you succeed and the patient survives, you pray, because it’s only by the grace of God that you get there.”
Short and somewhat fragmented, much like my thought processes these days.
Twice a week we are banished to the purgatory of the ER. A place where it is neither night nor day, summer nor winter; yet everything all at once. Bright lights rob us of any true orientation, disconcerting after a certain number of waking hours. The ER doesn’t play by the rules of other places. Things never come to a stop, but merely slow down, then speed up. An irregularly irregular pulse of activity. Time follows a similar pattern. It would be foolish to associate night with rest, or any other time for that matter. Rest, for the fortunate, is always stolen from within duties.
Here in the accident and emergency department, we juggle the accidental emergencies and tackle the emerging accidents. We main sharp-witted, shrewd, and often sure of ourselves, even when we are not.
The walls absorb as many prayers and curses as the floor does blood, sweat and tears. Wails and yells pierce the air intermittently, an argument dotted here and there. But that’s all routine.
Below, the baubles and sparkles give the shops a cheerful face. They beam welcomingly in their adorned splendour. Yet, upon a closer look, the buildings give away their age. Chipped signs, peeling paint, or the plethora of wires over head; all may catch the eye, but none take away from their dignity in the least.
The buildings stand shoulder to shoulder, like old friends. Like toothless old men they wordlessly pay tribute to days long gone. Precariously tall, they overlook the street with ease, gazing at every shopper and passer-by.