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Selections from Love, Medicine and Miracles by Bernie Siegel, Copyright © 1989 by Bernie Siegel. Reprinted with permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.  HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.
 


"Days before a difficult operation, Iíd live it over and over in my mind, praying that the successful result I visualized would come to pass."

Bernie Siegel, Love, Medicine and Miracles, Part Two

Surgeons arenít perfect. We always do our best, but complications still occur. Although disheartening, they keep us grounded and prevent us from starting to think of ourselves as gods. The one case that most shook my faith in myself was an injury to the facial nerve in a young girl I operated on early in my career. Seeing her wake up with half her face paralyzed made me want to hide forever. To become a surgeon in order to help people and then to end up disfiguring someone was a shattering experience. Unfortunately, I hadnít yet learned that my typical physicianís response Ė to hide my pain when something went wrong Ė helped no one.

The pressure never let up. When a patient was taken to the operating room with severe bleeding, the staff was tense and panicky Ė until the surgeon walked in. Not the knot was in my stomach, and everyone else relaxed. There was no one to whom I could transfer it. I could only look inside myself for reassurance. As every operation began, the sweat poured off, and then, even though the lights were just as hot as before, I cooled off as things came under control. I used to feel desperately alone, expecting perfection of myself. The stress followed me home. Days before a difficult operation, Iíd live it over and over in my mind, praying that the successful result I visualized would come to pass. Afterward, even if all went well, Iíd suddenly wake up in the middle of the night questioning my decisions. Now, after years of being educated by my patients, Iím able to make each decision, live by it, and put it behind me, knowing Iím doing my best. Just like a minister who feels alone because he never learns to talk to God, a doctor feels alone if he or she never learns to talk with patients.

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