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Excerpted from Hands of Life by Julie Motz. Copyright 1998 by Julie Motz. Excerpted by permission of Bantam, a division of Random House, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.

"The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that I belong there."

Julie Motz, Hands of Life, Part 1

Into the Operating Room

It has been eight months since I first walked through the doors of the department of cardiothoracic surgery of Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in upper Manhattan. The department has its suite of elegant offices in one wing of the seventh floor of the center's newest building, and patients recovering from its highly technical and remunerative surgeries occupy another. It has been five months since I began treating some of these patients, using the energy that flows through my hands to help them heal the terrible and awesome things that have happened inside their chests. It has been a month since I first met George, the patient who will change my life.

For a while, just to be doing such healing work, and to have it be effective in the highly mechanized and computerized realm of academic medicine, where machines extend life beyond anybody's wildest dreams, was mystery and challenge enough. But for the past few weeks I have been in the grip of an obsession about the operating room. If I can be effective after surgery, what might I accomplish if I could run energy into these open and wounded bodies while the transformation under the surgeon's knife is actually occurring?

I don't bother to think about the fact that this has never been done before--the idea seems to me so natural, such an obvious extension of what I am already doing. I don't bother to think that what I'm doing already seems odd enough to the nurses and the attending cardiologists on the unit--and even to Dr. Mehmet Oz, the surgeon whose patients I am treating.

What I think about are scalpels and saws cutting through unresisting flesh and bone, and pieces of anatomy being removed and rearranged, and the surrender to this invasion that the patient must endure. And I think about the energy in the room--the collective passions of surgeon and patient, each needing this process to succeed, but for different reasons.

The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that I belong there.

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