Surgically Serious

My surgeon rang last week to follow up on a question I had, and to check on how I was doing. Without thinking, I told her the truth.

“Well, it kind of feels like someone knocked me out, and a team of people assaulted my vagina for about five hours, I guess that’s probably because you did”.

She roared with laughter.

I’m starting to like my surgeon.

I like her because she removed my diverticulum. I like her because she has lovely small hands (a quality I also admire in an Obstetrician) and I like her because she is incredibly honest and to the point. When we first met I found her frankness disarming, but I’ve learnt that frankness is a quality you want in your surgeon. Tell me the truth, don’t paint a pretty picture, just let me know.

A few days before my surgery she had performed something called a urodynamics test. I’ve asked to return to the room to where the test took place to collect my dignity, as I’m pretty sure I left it there. By the end of the procedure, my surgeon and I knew each other very intimately, she had placed all sorts of things in all sorts of places, while making all sorts of excruciatingly embarrassing requests. I had left the room learning more about myself than I’d hoped for eg. yes, you can fill my bladder to the brim but I will not, can not, wee while you stand and watch me. Uh huh!

“It’s not unusual” she said in a monotone voice. “We’re trained from childhood not to do this, it goes against everything we think is right. It’s your subconscious, I’ll put you on a toilet and leave the room – you’ll wee immediately”

And I did. Like a good girl.

On the morning of my surgery there was not a man in sight. A female receptionist, a female nurse, a female anesthetist, two female surgeons, two female theatre nurses. There were a few smiles, but everyone was very serious, to the point, getting on with the job.

Not one person asked what I did for a living, not a question about where I lived, or my children, because at that moment, all any of them could see, was a diverticulum. I was merely its host. What do you do Kirsty, why, I grow really good diverticulums!

And in that moment I realized I didn’t care about the niceties, because it suddenly dawned on me, that all they were doing, was their job.

I wonder if my expectation of what I had perceived as a lack of warmth from my surgeon, was a little sexist on my behalf. Surely if you’re a woman and a mother, you’re soft and warm?


If you’re a surgeon, you’re a surgeon. I wasn’t her child. I was a patient.

The day after my surgery, my surgeon dropped by the hospital with her four year old son. She introduced him and ruffled his hair. “I hope you don’t mind that I brought him along?” I couldn’t have been happier. The look in her eyes when she introduced him to me, and that familiar glint of overwhelming pride on her behalf was very familiar.

Nurses on the ward had told me while taking my blood pressure, that I had been lucky, I’d picked a brilliant surgeon. I was now witness to the fact that she was also a loving and very proud mother, and a bloody good example of how you can combine the two.

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  • Amanda

    A sense of humour and compassionate candour; qualities I valued in my surgeon too. Glad you got a good ‘un!

  • Stacy

    I don’t even know why but this post made tears jump into my eyes. Why are we so hard on other women when some part of them doesn’t seem to measure up? Be they doctor, neighbor or co-worker. I’ve been caught out myself and felt soooo bad when I found out that my neighborly expectations were not in the realm of possible at that time for that woman. She was doing the very best that she could. And it sounds like your doctor is fabulous, even when she is not warm and fuzzy. In the balance, I would rather brilliant than warm and fuzzy.

    P.S. No need to collect your dignity. I can see it rightfully in place again. I am sure your words will be of enormous help to anyone else going through your surgery in the future. Maybe even today.

  • Alessandra Peters

    This is a lovely post Kirsty ๐Ÿ™‚

  • khadijateri

    I know what a good feeling it is to know you’re in capable hands. Glad that you are well. Take care and stay healthy. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • manycoloured-days

    It wasn’t necessarily sexist. I think at such vulnarable moments we just want connection, whatever the gender. But I’m glad you got to see a different side to her because you’ll be spreading the story and it’s important to be aware that competence and compassion are not opposites even when they don’t always manifest at the same time.

  • JO

    Great post – and of course it’s possible to be great at one’s job and be a great mum as well. What is unusual is to do what you’ve done, and flag it up for all of us to cheer about. Thank you.

  • Naomi Hattaway

    I just need to ask … how many times have people googled “diverticulum” since this all started/happened for you? Just saying … you should get paid for those searches!

    • manycoloured-days

      Guilty, I am!

  • Expat mum

    One of my Ob/GYNs (as they’re called here) wasn’t known for her warmth, but boy – when we got into the delivery room she was brilliant. The best mix of efficiency and care you could ever hope for.
    Glad to hear yours was just as good for you.