Counting down my shifts left at work. 10 to go.
It’s a good time to reflect upon the last 15 years and to look forward to what’s coming down the line. I’ll try to do that over the next couple of weeks.

For the 10th to last shift, we did an exploratory laparotomy on a patient to fix two hernias… one of which contained strangulated bowel. The guy had them for something like 40 years and just never did anything about them. Not a wise move in my book – they weren’t exactly small. The umbilical hernia protruded about three inches from his belly and was probably six inches across. (It was a super-outey!) It’s odd how we can learn to live with things, especially if we fear what it’s going to take to make them better. And in this guy’s case it led to some dead gut.

The second case was a laparoscopic appendectomy. Routine. We’ve done a thousand of them if we’ve done one.

Not a bad night, all in all.

I’m going to stretch some here, but those cases are not unlike the last 15 years I’ve been here at the hospital. It’s been a routine, like the appendectomy. Each week sees the same duties, same routine, same people, same doctors, same conversations, same, same, same. For long stretches it’s been a comfortable, known sameness. I like the people I work with and the job is really an easy one. That’s one of the reasons why I’ve stayed here so long. I learned to live with it, even though the night shifts have been a large drain on me.

But at some point the easiness and sameness becomes more of a detraction than an advantage. I could go on with this job and at the end of my life I’d have done some good and lived very comfortably. I’d have every possession I needed, and I’d have travelled to some beautiful places and done some nice things. Hopefully I wouldn’t have gotten into too much trouble. Hopefully I’d have some friends.

But would that be enough? Would I look back and say I’d had a good life? And what’s life all about anyway? What really makes a good life? Philosophers have been asking that question since ancient Greece. I’m not going to answer it here in a blog entry from work, I’m sure. But part of the answer has to include working hard and risk. If I only ever do what’s easy how will I know what I could have done if I’d only tried?


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