Saturday, January 02, 2010

Surgeons and the God Complex

You know how people always talk about how surgeons have a God complex? Yeah, that's totally real. The surgeon who performed my second emergency surgery in a week has cast-iron balls and he's right about everything all the time...except when he isn't. My wound is infected because he gave me inaccurate wound care instructions, and even when I questioned his stupid method and explained that I had had this same surgery before, he said, "Well, that may be how they do it where you're from, but here we do it this way." Oh, okay, Mr. Balls of Steel.

I was quite happy to follow his instructions, because they were much easier, and the wound seemed good two days later. But now it's infected. Naturally it waits until the weekend to do this, because that's when you can't do anything about it without going to an emergency room where they'll just carve you into a million pieces and leave you for dead.

So we called him today in an effort to get some guidance on the matter. His wisdom? "It's always going to be infected." Um, really? Then what the fuck did I need your services for exactly? And if I did need you, shouldn't we have installed some kind of permanent apparatus to deal with the infection? It took the testimony of a nurse to convince him that it needed further attention, and I don't even want to explain what we had to do with it. And now I'm basically not allowed to sleep until it heals because I have to supervise the damn thing every hour or else it will sprint off into the land of infection again--it literally gained ground while I made myself dinner.

I try to be a model patient, really I do. I once had a conversation with a friend of mine who was in the hospital all the time, and she explained that it was best to be positive and sweet and hardy and brave and follow instructions without fail all the time--that you got good treatment that way, and that if you broke down and admitted that you were upset the medical establishment will basically drop you like a hot potato and leave you to rot in your own depression because, frankly, they can't afford to be sucked in. But today on the phone with the surgeon, I verbally frosted his precious cast-iron balls until I was absolutely certain they won't thaw out until New Years 2011. I got courtesy antibiotics for my trouble, which was a moderate consolation prize. But honestly, watching him cover his privates with a clipboard the next time he sees me will be way more satisfying.

I can fully appreciate that, as he reminded me in my initial examination, "it's not like you have cancer or anything," and that is some comfort to me, it's true. But I'm still a 38-year old woman with a gaping hole in her chest and I think I'm allowed to ask whatever questions I need to in order to feel comfortable that I'm doing the right thing about it. And I deserve to have those questions answered completely and with respect. So now that he's made me totally paranoid about infection, he can share the fun a little by being paranoid about his balls. It's only fair.

Which makes me wonder a little about the God complex. Maybe it's not true. I have a hard time imagining God being paranoid about his balls. Maybe it's more like a Pope complex. You know, "I'm infallible and super awesome, but just in case anyone else thinks I'm an asshole, I'll ride around in this bulletproof popemobile."

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