Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Paul Washer and Surgical Banter

So I'm still on the bible study group mailing list with South Gate Alliance, my church back in Canada. There was this e-mail that caught my eye about a few sermons by a guy named Paul Washer. I hadn't heard of Paul Washer before so I looked him up and downloaded some of his stuff off the HeartCry Missionary Society. I've only had a chance to listen to a couple of his sermons on courtship and I'm still digesting some of things he said. But so far, I'm really finding myself quite challenged by his preaching.

Finally finished the USMLE Step 1. The day actually went by pretty quickly. Although I didn't run out of time in any of the blocks, my brain started to shut down by about the 6th and 7th set of questions. I started writing my exam at around 0945 (they had some issues connecting to Prometric) and by 1700 I was ready for it to all be over. For the most part, it felt like I was just making educated guesses and there were quite a few questions that I had no idea how to answer. But, I gave it my best and there's nothing more I can do.

Aside from watching some really crap TV in my hotel (Entourage, Monday Night Football/Rugby, some cop chase show, and lawn bowls...they actually show professional lawn bowls on TV and try to make it look like the World Series of Poker), I haven't really had a break. Yesterday was a pretty busy day. Checked out of my hotel in Sydney at 0730, left Sydney by 0900, landed in Townsville at 1130, drove back to Ayr by 1300, and then was helping out with an appendectomy by 1500. We were part-way through the procedure and I had just been drilled with all sorts of anatomy questions as we sliced through his abdominal wall...

Doc: "So why have I drawn an X here?" (as he points to a black X drawn on the boy's abdomen)
Me: "Uhm, is that where we're going to cut?"
Doc: "Yes, but why here?"
Me: "Uhm, well, this is an appendectomy right? Is that McBurney's point?"
Doc: "Wrong. It's a trick question. This is the point where the patient claims the pain is worst. You find out where the pain is worst and that's where you go in."

So we made an incision maybe 4 cm long all the way into his peritoneal cavity and he starts pulling out the kid's small intestine through the small opening.

Doc: "So where's the appendix?"
Me: "Uh, at the cecum?"
Doc: "Yes, so how do we find the cecum?"
Me: "At the end of his small intestine."
Doc: Holding out some of the small intestine "So which way to do we go to find the cecum?"
Me: "Uhm...I don't know."
Doc: "You can't know. You can either follow along the 6 m of bowel until you hit it or you just have to feel around and find the long, hard stringy thing that will be his inflamed appendix."

So for the next 10 minutes he stuffs his fingers into the boy's abdominal cavity and begins to feel around for the appendix. During this time, we share some jokes. One of the nurses told one about how the animals on the Ark couldn't play cards because Noah was standing on the deck. Then they got talking about the Shroud of Turin. And then the doc in charge went on some rant about how Christianity is a load of crap and that the shroud is a fake because Jesus Christ never actually died on the cross. How come he died so quickly while most other people who were crucified took days to die? His conclusion was that Jesus Christ never raised from the dead because he never died in the first place - there is no evidence that he was dead, no death certificate, and that they just assumed he was dead. And even if it all did happen, his friends probably took him off the cross while he was still alive and then nursed him back to health afterward claiming he had risen from the dead.

In the meantime, we had cut off the appendix and were sewing the boy back up. My mind was racing, should I say anything? I felt that if I remained silent it would mean that I agreed with him - which I didn't at all. One of the nurses said, "Why are we talking about this anyway?" and we realized it was a tangent from someone's comment on the Shroud of Turin. I'll give him credit, he knew exactly how to discredit Christianity - refuting the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But how should I respond? If I challenged his views, would he kick me out of surgery? Would he lose all respect for me or would he have more respect because I had the balls to speak up?

I didn't say anything. I'm pretty sure everyone in the room had an opinion but felt that it wasn't appropriate to comment. Yes, I know religion and politics are largely taboo subjects in the workplace. But a part of me felt ashamed to not say something because I was either not confident/comfortable to go into the reliability and validity of scriptures in order to prove Christ's death and resurrection to be true and/or because I was afraid of the negative impression I'd make..."Oh that med student is an idiot because he believes in that fairytales and Jewish sect rubbish." It's a hard decision to make in the heat of the moment and I have a feeling there will be many more similar situations in the future. Hoping for some God-given wisdom to deal with them as they come.

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