Merry Christmas! No doubt you have been singing a few carols this holiday season. What many do not realise is the fact that many of these carols are based on very sound ENT basic sciences and principles. The anatomy, pathology and the expertise around ENT surgery is well displayed and sung in these carols. So the next time you sing a Christmas carol, remember its ENT origins. Here’s a list:
“Angels We Have Heard on High” (Full title: “Angels we have heard on high, so now we can keep the volume on low”)
“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” (Actual title: “Hark! The herald angels gagged”)
“Silent Night” (Actual title: “Silent night when there are no batteries in hearing aids”)
“Do you Ear what I Ear?” (Thanks to @GregSmithMD)
“Jingle Bells Palsy” (Thanks to @GregSmithMD)
“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (Actual Title: “Rudolph has Rhinophyma”)
“Little EarDrummer Boy, parupapumpum…”
And there’s plenty of others. Let me know if you were singing them! Happy christmas!
Surgeons are normally not comfortable among crowds who talk back to them. Christmas, therefore, presents a challenging social dilemma to the discerning surgeon. On one hand he/she is awkward in social gatherings, on the other he/she knows that being the centre of attention is important for his/her ego.
You know the old joke: “What does a surgeon use for contraception? His personality.”
So I’ve decided to provide help by means of a code of conduct that a surgeon could abide by during this festive season. Following this guide step by step will help alleviate the anxieties of the socially-inept surgeon. Here are my suggestions as to how a surgeon should behave during Christmas parties:
1. Ask, no, demand that the party starts at 0830 am sharp, “Knife to skin”. It does not matter if there are toddlers who wake early or teenagers who wake at lunch. Simply demand that knife hits the turkey skin at 0830am sharp. If there are objections, just say “I am God’s gift to mankind. Take it or leave it.”
2. Upon demanding “Knife to (turkey) skin” at 0830, arrive at 0900, and mumble/murmur/grumble about the traffic, the weather, and the terrible parking, even if the Christmas party was held at the surgeon’s own home.
3. Once everyone’s aware of your complaints, ask what we are doing today and raise your eyebrows/arms/legs and in a kind of “the world is coming to an end” drama sigh and say “How come the turkey/ham/beef is not on the table yet?”
4. When the turkey/ham/beef is finally on the table, complain immediately about the position of the turkey on the table, the height of the table and the position of the chairs.
5. Ask someone to drape the turkey while you go and wash your hands. This is a time to grab the surgical magnifying loupes if you wanna go all the way to impress people. Do a proper 5 minute surgical scrub from fingertip to elbows.
6. Upon returning to the operating Christmas table, complain immediately about the draping of the turkey. Then ask someone to adjust the lighting in the room and the height of the table.
7. Complain once more about the weather, traffic and parking.
8. Ask for knife and demand total silence in the room. Make sure everyone is paying attention.
9. As you make the first incision on the turkey, ask your assistant if there were any preoperative imaging of this turkey. Just grumble if there isn’t or even if there is one. This is also a time to ask for photos to be taken, while you are truly ‘at your game’, whatever meat that is.
10. Ask for fork, tweezers, pickups, thongs or any other instrument to help with turkey dissection. Preferably ask for those that are not in the room so someone can go fetch from another room. Upon returning with the fetched requested instrument, decide not to use it.
11. If you’re encountering trouble during the process of dissection, always blame the instruments, the assistant or the turkey’s difficult anatomy. The problem is never with your skills.
12. Once the turkey is well dissected and evenly distributed to your captive audience, close the skin with 4.0 vicryl and drop all instruments on the table. Walk away from the table, and as you leave the room, say “Merry Christmas” and listen to the rapturous applause as you go through the exit doors.
Last weekend was our 8th anniversary weekend. Lots of people did not believe that I’ve been married that long. I wonder if it’s because I looked young, or perhaps because people did not think that marriage could last my surgical training that long?
You know the old joke: An elderly couple was asked “Wow, you’ve been married for such a long time. In all these years, has divorce ever crossed your mind?” The old couple replied, “Divorce? Never. Murder, many times.”
Anyway, it’s been such a heaven on earth, and I feel that I have not yet left my honeymoon stage (don’t know if my wife has left the honeymoon stage and thinking of murder at this point). I think it is important for me and for my dear wife (who received a late anniversary present) to know how I feel about our marriage. I thought about it while facebooking the other night, and realised that I have learnt a lot of things about marriage and life in general.
These are the 8 things 8 years of marriage has taught me:
1. Marriage is easy.
Yes, particularly if you married the right person. I don’t know what all the fuss was about ‘surrendering your rights’, ‘putting spouse before me’, ‘loving and serving’, etc. I thought my marriage was relatively easy. I think that’s where I’m extremely lucky. I got myself a good spouse. Well, I had 9 other competitors going for the same girl many years ago, but I won the fight and took the girl trophy home. It’s smooth sailing from then on. So my advice boys: choose your spouse carefully, and fight hard for her!
2. Marriage is costly.
Have you seen the number of gifts I bought for her? Bags no longer used, dresses no longer worn, accessories still in boxes, flowers now decayed. It is costly, but it’s all an investment. “It’s the thought that counts” is a myth, people. It actually is the gift that counts. But that’s ok. To see the smile on her face, that’s priceless. For everything else, there’s mastercard. And all the extra oncall shifts that comes with it.
3. Marriage is safe.
We decided early on to enter the covenant of marriage in a biblical sense and never never never ever consider divorce as an option. It seems almost counter-cultural in this day and age where almost 1 in 2 marriages end in divorce. But we found that this commitment has kept both of us safe. We can count on the other at all times. We face challenges, any challenges, as a team. I feel safe when I’m with her, and so does she.
4. Marriage keeps you humble.
I don’t like to admit this, but I often feel like a real flawed human because I’m living with a flawless angel. Her beauty, compassion and purity of heart keep my cold surgical heart and arrogant attitude in check. Each time I act like the lord of the universe, she reminds me of who I am and keeps me in right perspective. I put away my light sabre yet again.
5. Marriage does not cure loneliness.
It’s interesting to think that many people get into the marriage thing hoping to cure their loneliness. Not quite. What’s worse than being lonely is being locked in relationship with the wrong person and feeling alienated by that person. What some call loneliness, I believe is something else altogether. Blaise Pascal, a French Mathematician and Physicist said “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God.” I think I understand what he means. Marriage is not that which will absolve all your loneliness. Once that God-filled vacuum is filled, marriage can and will bring out the best in you.
6. Marriage is fun.
Needless to say, my happiest moments in life happen within the context of my marriage. And these joyous times are even better because they are shared with my best friend. Examples of our fun times? Birth of our son, family holidays, getting into our training programs, and well… a few other things that a family-friendly blog cannot include.
7. Marriage hurts sometimes.
As iron sharpens iron, so does one person sharpens another. She makes me a better person. Not easy for her, nor for me. But I realise the emotional pain I feel is for my own good as she always sees the best in me. And because we know each other so well, we are also the one most able to hurt each other with a particular word or two. Marriage opens the darkest parts of me. She knows that, sees that, and still loves me because she can also see the potential good in me. The hurts are necessary so the good will be experienced.
8. Marriage is about the journey.
We agree that we are stronger today than 8 years ago. We haven’t got there yet. We know the road ahead will not always be smooth because we have some very big dreams about what we want to do with life. But we’re safe. Because we’re best friends on the same journey, we can face all of life’s storms together. We do not know our ultimate destination, but because the journey is so enjoyable as it is with her at the moment, it probably does not really matter where we will be.
Now, I need to get approval from dear wife to post this blog… Wish me luck.