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An Essay to Cherish

Posted 3/12/2015

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  An alternate name for today's entry could be "Read it and weep", but that sounded a bit melodramatic. I feel a little badly about adding a second sad blog this week, but sometimes events demand it. Paul Kalanithi, a Stanford neurosurgeon, died on March 9th at the age of 37. Between his diagnosis and his death, he wrote beautifully for The New York Times and Stanford Medicine about being a physician and a new father with terminal cancer.

  If you are determined not to be sad today, don't read this. If you are willing to bear the heartache and to cherish the words, the joy, the insight, the life of a remarkable man, please read every word. Whatever you do, if you read it, please keep reading to the end.

  Here is the start and a link:

Before I go
Time warps for a young surgeon with metastatic lung cancer
By Paul Kalanithi
In residency, there’s a saying: The days are long, but the years are short. In neurosurgical training, the
day usually began a little before 6 a.m., and lasted until the operating was done, which depended, in
part, on how quick you were in the OR.
A resident’s surgical skill is judged by his technique and his
speed. You can’t be sloppy and you can’t be slow. From your
first wound closure onward, spend too much time being
precise and the scrub tech will announce, “Looks like we’ve
got a plastic surgeon on our hands!” Or say: “I get your
strategy — by the time you finish sewing the top half of the
wound, the bottom will have healed on its own. Half the
work — smart!” A chief resident will advise a junior: “Learn
to be fast now — you can learn to be good later.” Everyone’s
eyes are always on the clock. For the patient’s sake: How
long has the patient been under anesthesia? During long
procedures, nerves can get damaged, muscles can break
down, even causing kidney failure. For everyone else’s sake:
What time are we getting out of here tonight?


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