Friday, 21 November 2014

An Open Letter to Surgeons Everywhere:


Firstly, I love you. 
You saved my life. 

You've also saved the lives of countless people I love and I am eternally grateful to you for that. You stitched me up so wonderfully that my stomach has a pretty cool scar akin to that excellent stitch work that got me an A+ in Home Economics from Sister Patricia.
 
But let me take a moment to reflect on my own personal experience with you and your fellow slice n' dice specialists...

We all know you are uber-skilled and uber-intelligent. We know you deal with life and death situations on a no doubt, daily basis. You probably lose patients regularly through no fault of your own. That must be a heartbreaking thing to get used to and take a level of stoicism most of us 'normal' people would find hard to muster. 
We know you are busy men and women and have demanding and hectic careers. 

But we also know you are human beings with hopes and fears just like us. Therefore when we are in a position where we have to talk to you it's because we are really sick. And probably pant-wettingly terrified about what's ahead. 

We are of course well aware there are people (on much lower pay grades than you I proffer) who are employed to assist you, and help to comfort us worried patients. But sometimes it's important we have a touch of reassurance from the man or woman who is physically going to be slicing/removing/inserting things into our bodies. I don't know about many of you, but when a man is at the stage where he's suggesting insertion, you've usually had at least a few dates/a drink or 40 beforehand. AMIRITE?! 

When a patient is brought to you to discuss their health, it's important to remember that pretty much every alternative has been considered beforehand. If our consultant or specialist is suggesting surgery we are now in a certain frame of mind. We are filled with uncertainty, fear and overwhelming hope. We are either in a lot of pain/very ill or at risk of becoming so without your healing hands. If you don't feel surgery is appropriate for us, please discuss this with us and perhaps explain why not. Don't pummel us into insignificance with science and phrases we don't understand. Consider how much your words can affect us. In particular those of us with chronic and incurable illnesses. Bear in mind that with an incurable condition we rarely have a light at the end of the tunnel. We won't ever be 'cured' but we may be able to feel better. 

We are not naive enough to fail to grasp that with surgery comes complications, cost, time and resources. We do realise you have these issues to consider before agreeing to perform surgery, however do not assume we are as unintelligent to gloss over the idea that the outcome for us is that WE MAY DIE. 

We don't want to be in a position where we need surgery. We aren't desperate for attention. We aren't exaggerating our pain. We understand the risks and put our faith in you because we feel there is no alternative. Our lives are either spent in unending pain and misery or we take the risk to possibly gain some form of quality of life. We don't need you to patronise us or attempt to baffle us with science. 

We want you to help us get better and we want to know the person we've entrusted to do that wants that too. 

Keep doing that magic with your surgical paws. We are all the better for it. Just be a wee bit nicer before you pick up the scalpel that's all. 

Yours, minus some diseased bowel, 
Kath x x