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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.
 


"Stepping in front of the anesthesiologist, I realize that I am expected to watch the surgery -- something I hadn't quite counted on."

Julie Motz, Hands of Life, Part 2

Dr. Oz has a coronary bypass scheduled for that afternoon, and we go down the escalators to the operating-room suite together. He punches in the code that allows the door to the surgical inner sanctum to open.

He leads me to the racks where blue scrub suits, masks, shower caps, and shoe coverings are stacked, then disappears behind a door through which I can hear men's voices and then laughter, as if someone has just told a joke. I enter the one marked "Women's Dressing Room," with the paraphernalia of his profession he has handed me clutched against my chest.

* * *

I meet him again in the corridor between the two dressing rooms. He shows me how to pinch the top of my mask so it stays up on my nose, and I follow him through a series of passageways and a set of swinging doors into the cube of unnaturally bright and beeping space that is the operating room.

* * *

To my surprise, the surgery seems already well under way. I later learn that Dr. Oz often does not "open" for himself, unless it is one of the trickier cases, like a mechanical heart implant, or a transplant involving a patient already on a mechanical heart. The preliminary work--in this case, painting the body with betadine, a disinfectant the color of dried blood, draping the sterile blue cloths around the area of the incision, cutting into the chest and sawing open the sternum, and even opening the leg to remove the veins that will take over the work of the coronary arteries--has already been done by a surgical resident.

I expect to just take a quick look around, introduce myself, and then leave, but Dr. Oz motions me to go stand at the head of the patient, as he disappears through a set of swinging doors opposite the ones through which we have entered. Stepping in front of the anesthesiologist, I realize that I am expected to watch the surgery--something I hadn't quite counted on.

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