Susan Dong

“In the operating room, 

bordered by its crisp white walls 

and identified by the smell of alcohol 

and artificial fluorescent light too white and bright it takes a few seconds for our natural human eyes to adjust. 

This artificial setting 

was jarring 

as a new learner not yet fully indoctrinated to this professional calling. 


Where it can feel like our medical institution 

does everything it can to make us forget 

of the warm body breathing, heart beating, neurons synapsing, blood flowing, and loved ones anticipating

we put drapes around the sterile field to block view of the patient’s face, 

we speak in anatomical lingo, so far removed from everyday syntax- 

it is not the “womb” but the “uterus” that we must cut through to deliver the fetus; 

and it is not a mother, father, daughter, son, partner, teacher, construction worker

lying in front of us

but it’s “patient”. 


However, a surgeon must never forget 

of the reflection that coexists under those fluorescent haze

that their responsibility is to more than just the uterus or the patient, 

but to the human relation

that we must cure sometimes, treat often, and comfort always.”

Susan Dong