It was a battle. Looking back I don't think we ever had a chance, but you don't just give up on a young man in the prime of his life. We had to try. He was my patient. He was a foreigner, on a gap year in Africa where he was going to learn all sorts of things about conservation and African wildlife. Up until the accident, all had apparently gone ...

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The gift of a smile is really not that small after all "Bongi, I have a patient who came in last night with appendicitis. Can you operate him for me?" My colleague was known to load shed and mostly I didn't really mind. That day, however, I just didn't feel like any extra work, so it took a bit of effort to fake enthusiasm. "Sure! Any time." I lied. "Anything special or straight appendicitis?" "Well, I saw ...

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As I have mentioned before, all surgeons think they are the best. Of course when we ourselves need surgery, there is a bit of a dilemma deciding who is the best qualified to carry out the procedure. So when I realized there was a strange looking skin lesion in my right inner thigh, I decided only the best would do to operate me. In my rooms I informed the sister I ...

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Doctors don't like to go to doctors. I suppose we might see it as a failure or more likely it is pure intellectual arrogance. Whatever the reason, there can be no excuses when you need to get an insurance examination form filled out. One way of taking the edge off it is possibly to try to use your conversational skills to awe the poor general practitioner forced to see a ...

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One of the curses of kalafong (hell) was that there was no neurosurgical service. This meant us mere general surgeons had to handle the many head injuries that came in. So, for example, when some guy decided to cave in the head of his so-called best friend with a five iron on the golf course because they had started with the nineteenth hole instead of the first, we ended up either ...

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This is a difficult story to tell but if I am to be true to the complete experience of a surgeon, I do need to tell it. One of my seniors used to say that every surgeon has a graveyard hidden away somewhere in the dark recesses of his mind. He went on to say it was unfortunately normal, so long as you remember all the names engraved on the tombstones. ...

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If nothing else, this post illustrates that surgeons are not that great with the whole bedside manner thing. I would like to think I'm an exception ... but I still am a surgeon. I make a point of communication with my patient. Obviously if he is a child, I use the same measure of effort in communicating with the parents. But few things irritate me more than some ...

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(Editor's note: reader discretion advised) Recently I was involved in a discussion with a guy that was explaining how we should understand criminals. The emphasis was on farm murders but we touched on murderers in general, rapists and child molesters. My point of view was that I did not understand them and felt that he was justifying their actions. In the end I was informed that I was smug. Apparently that ...

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