I rotated through Paediatric Surgery during the time my colleagues had winter break – it was part of the agreement of doing SAS. This meant I was the only student in the ward for two weeks, which also meant that I was the only student to assist in theater… every. single. day.
It was only the second time that I realised that maybe my impressions of surgery had been inaccurate (the first time had been a month earlier, on Head&Neck). Maybe it was because I was getting so much OR-time, without having to fight for a good vantage point. Incidentally, that was also the first time I noticed a surgeon’s hands and what people mean when they talk about “good hands”.
Paediatric Surgery taught me more about surgical techniques, scrubbing up and even anaesthetics. I definitely suggest being the only student on a department’s service at least once.
But the thing that struck me most was the children (we’ve established before that I love children). You would see them shortly before their surgery and they would be miserable because of a pyloric stenosis or intussusception, and you’d see them after the surgery and they would be a little groggy and unhappy. But the very next morning they would be up and about, playing and laughing.
I loved that. Children don’t know about the sick role. They don’t know about taking to bed for a few days after the surgeries. They just want to be healthy and play, and on top of that, their bodies are these incredible little healing machines.
It is unlikely that I will go into Paediatric Surgery one day – for very many reasons – but I will always be in awe of children’s quick healing. Like I needed another reason to adore them.