modern medicine, when spirit meets science

First Encounters With Surgery & Life Lessons

Every experience is a teacher. And the greatest lessons are often taught by the people closest to us!

Back in 2007, in the early days of his career as a cancer surgeon, my husband Suraj (then fiance) was also tending to general surgical cases. He was also ‘on call’ a few times every month. This meant he had to attend to emergency surgeries through the night in addition to his routine surgical work during the day.

The hospital he worked for at that time was a high-volume centre. The on-call nights saw a minimum of three or four surgeries lined up for him, sometimes more!

That year was our courtship period. The possibility of us meeting the next day depended on the number of surgeries he had to perform the previous night!

Appendicitis, peritonitis, intestinal obstruction, accident and trauma were the most common cases that came streaming into the Emergency Room.

Suraj was also a mentor for students training in surgery. I marveled at the stamina possessed by him and the team of students. It was hard for me to imagine how these folks could work through the day and then stay up all night performing multiple surgeries!

I was even more stunned by the cancer surgeries being performed. For cases of esophagal cancer, a portion of the stomach could be used to create another esophagus. In certain cases of rectal cancer, a separate opening called stoma could be created for the elimination of digestive waste. Often, portions of organs affected by cancer ( such as liver or intestine) would need to be removed and patients would continue to lead a near-normal life after recovering from surgery.

I knew modern medicine had made tremendous progress in the twentieth century. But I had no clue such sophisticated procedures could be performed.

For someone like me, who feels rather nervous at the sight of blood, it was overwhelming yet inspiring to watch surgeons encounter blood, day in and day out.

I also felt it required tremendous courage to cut open another human being and set right whatever had malfunctioned within their body.

Our partnership also brought out some of my own subconscious fears and anxieties around health and blood in particular.

On the spiritual path, we believe that every close relationship acts as a mirror. Partners mirror to us our weaknesses and vulnerabilities.

Being a sensitive person, I am sometimes prone to unnecessary and irrational anxiety. My partner’s courage and rationality serve as a mirror and present to me a choice to work on irrational fears.

What lessons do your dear ones teach you?

Look closely and you may see the mirror they hold up for you!