The Uncertain Surgeon

You are a man plagued by ambivalence, second-guessing every decision you make, marrying and unmarrying the same woman twice with three different women. You kept switching majors in college, switching colleges, switching back. You must have majored in every possible science, social science, and humanities subject, not to mention interdisciplinary majors. You started graduate school in engineering, then law, then writing, then film, then medicine. You figured you’d go for the gold and became a surgeon, like your father, once he died and wouldn’t derive any satisfaction from it. You’re still not sure you want to be one, maybe moving on into politics, but you have to say your broad education has come in handy. Law gave you an appreciation for avoiding malpractice suits, engineering taught you the precision of thinking of the body as a bridge that must not fall down, film and writing have allowed you to consult for the plethora of medical and legal shows on TV, even writing some scripts for Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.

CC BY 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

CC BY 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

You are, from all appearances, a Renaissance Man. But you are incomplete. Always another field — another woman — to tackle.

The worst aspect of your uncertain nature is surgery itself. You remove then replace the same organs. You sew someone up, open them again. You think you left something inside, like a scalpel, which you never do, but you have to make sure. Your last surgery, you removed and reattached the same kidney five times. Your staff puts up with it because you are the head of surgery in a small rural hospital. They don’t know any better. They think this is standard practice at the prestigious medical schools. After all, you have five Ivy League degrees.

When you write something, you write it fifty times before you get it right. You give your secretary total responsibility for office memos, which you don’t edit or you would be up all night changing six words ten times. You don’t actually revise your writing. You simply do and undo the same two or three versions. You are doing this right now. This is the sixth time you have written this version, out of eighteen tries. You already hate it. And you have this damn kidney in your hand.

About Gloria Garfunkel

Gloria Garfunkel has a Ph.D. in Psychology and Social Relations from Harvard University and was a psychotherapist for 35 years, listening to others' stories. She is now a writer of flash fiction and memoir, telling her own tales.
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