As I step carefully into the sterile field
past the rows of scalpels, forceps and clamps,
I sense a gentle fluttering in my chest.
Perhaps I feel nervous of a clumsy misstep
even after many hours, days, in the operating room,
exposing the innocence of a medical student.
Perhaps I feel humbled next to the surgeon
wearing the same caps, masks and gowns
seamlessly alike from head to foot, or so I hope.
But beneath the surface lies three decades of expertise
juxtaposing my mere three years of training,
their wisdom silently encircling my uncertainties.
Or perhaps I feel pleased to meet John again,
recalling his warm smile when I explained the surgery
and his calm voice saying, thank you, doctor.
His thin frame now hides behind the drapes,
except for his bare abdomen with a dark pink stoma
and hope for new life beaming under overhead lights.
The surgeon calls for a timeout with folded hands
with John’s heart rate beeping in the background.
There and then, I pause my train of thought,
tucking it away for the next few hours
and my drifting gaze focuses on his abdomen
rising ever so subtly under the surgeon’s first incision.
Author’s note: Patient’s name and personal details have been changed to preserve their privacy.