For those of you who might be new to this blog, might I recommend reading the entry that I wrote over a year ago entitled "How I got here" which I wrote in Rochester, MN on July, 19 2008 before reading on.
And so we have come full circle. The day that I have dreamed of, hoped for, for so long has finally arrived. The only word that I have to describe how I feel today is 'complete'. Today I performed surgery in the operating room for the first time in over a year. At that time, as I became a fulltime patient, I felt that a part of me had been ripped away and wondered if this day would ever come. However, I was carried and made whole by the love that I have received from from myriads of individuals whose compassion was extended toward my welfare. How do I deserve this? I do not know. What I do know is that if anyone ever considers this world of ours a dark and fearful place; may they see what I have seen for only five minutes and they will feel the absolute and immense goodness of people, regular people; those that we see everyday as we hurry to our next task. These people are you. You have sent me encouraging words, worried about Barbie and me, prayed for us, helped us and made us feel whole again. I wish that I could adequately thank you, the words I would attempt fall far short of the gratitude that I feel in my heart.
I know that the only way to convey this feeling is through my service to others. Today is a new beginning as I return again to that old path.
It is altogether fitting that my first surgery with my new heart is the same one as my last surgery so long ago. I removed a cancerous kidney laparoscopically from woman this morning. The tumor appeared to be contained within the specimen. This will likely give her a high chance of being cured. I was assisted by a very capable chief resident, Dr. Yap, and many of the outstanding nurses and OR staff with whom I have worked for years. I can't describe the joy I felt at being back in the OR. I felt as if I had come home after a long journey.
Recently, Barbie reminded me that my life has been saved at least three times this past year. I participated in saving a life today. Sometimes we save a life that is in immediate danger of ending due to injury. Sometimes we extend a life through the appropriate application of diagnostic acumen and skillful delivery of medicine and surgery. Sometimes a life is saved as a caring friend's compassion prevents the emotional destruction of a despondent and tortured soul as their outstretched hand assures them that they are not alone. We all, at times, have participated in life changing graces towards others, even if we remain unaware that our actions were so directed. These saved souls, that are lifted out of adversity, then begin to, in turn, lift others as the cycle continues. I plan to be here lifting others as long as my feet remain on a firm foundation.
And so we come full circle and see ourselves as we never have before, renewed and ready to begin again.