Hero for a moment: a childhood dream
一时的英雄:儿时的梦想 (Dan Zhao翻译)
Photo 3: Newborn intensive care unit: lots of heroic like actions, but the true heroes are the babies who quickly snap out of near death episodes.

As a child, I would often dream of being a surgeon. My father was a surgeon, and surgery seemed such an exciting field. I could dramatically save someone’s life. I might even be the hero of the moment! And stories of medical missionaries who went to far-off countries to help others always fascinated me. I guess the child in me always dreamed that it would be heroic to help people by doing something like that!

However, when I began my surgical residency I discovered that Professor O was a stereotypical domineering, short-tempered, surgeon. As we made our rounds with him, the hapless resident would report to him that one of his patients was not doing well. Professor O would explode with rage and say something like, “when I finished my surgery, my patient was in tip top shape; when he left the operating room he was in excellent condition. What did you do to him? Why is he like this?”
可是当我开始外科住院医培训时,我发现O教授是 那种刻板的,爱强加于人,没耐心的外科医生。在我们和他查房的时候,不幸的住院医向他报告病人病情恶化。O教授就会暴跳如雷,责问,“我手术结束时,我的病人还好好的。 你做了什么?他为什么会变成这样?”

So with this really ferocious attack style, the residents learned to lie to him, and basically would report, “Sir, your patient is doing well, no problem.” To which he would respond: “Excellent job! Next patient”. But then when Professor O walked out of the ward, commonly we would immediately rush over to resuscitate patients who had “crashed”, but who just minutes earlier had been declared in “fine condition.”

Plus, at times, Professor O would get really upset with what he perceived as inefficiency in the operating room, and he would even throw his scalpel (knife) on the ground, when he felt it wasn’t exactly the right one. I soon realized this surgical heroism dream came with a very heavy price: I felt that my already tense nature was getting out of hand, and my temper was getting shorter and shorter. So one day I went to the Professor and abruptly terminated my surgery residency, electing to move on to another field. I truly worried that with my own inner high drive, one day, I might become “just like him”.

But during this surgical training time, I learned to excel and complete many surgical “tricks” that others might have taken years to learn, simply because the wards were full of a very unusual surgical procedure that Professor O was world famous for. Professor O had designed a remarkable surgery for people with the very serious and potentially fatal cancer of the esophagus (the gullet). He perfected a unique technique in which he totally removed the diseased esophagus, and then took the large intestine (colon) to replace it in the same location. This was a very difficult and long surgical maneuver, and resulted in many of his patients having breathing problems after surgery, which required an instantaneous tracheotomy to allow better breathing. This was done by creating a hole in the trachea (windpipe), and inserting a tracheotomy tube. I learned to do this tracheotomy extremely well and was very fast, easily finishing the procedure within minutes.

Photo 1 :Trachea awaiting a tracheostomy: if you need one, I know of someone who is pretty good at doing it, though it has been quite a while.
图1: 等待气切的气管:如果你有需要,我认识一个人还不错,只是他有一阵子没用这技巧了。

A few years later, I was in the USA doing an internship in internal medicine. There was suddenly an emergency on a medical ward for a patient who had a tracheotomy. This was not my ward, and not my patient; I just happened to be passing by. The patient’s entire tracheotomy tube had become dislocated out of the trachea, and the patient was having breathing trouble. As this was not a surgical ward, the surgeon was not readily available. The staff were very frantic to find a surgeon. When I realized what was going on, I mildly offered my “humble services.” Even though I was “only a medical intern”, I revealed that I had actually had quite a bit of experience with this surgical procedure. Within seconds I was able to dig into his big neck, find the trachea among the other tissues, open the original incision in the trachea, and replace the tracheotomy tube into the trachea, to everyone’s relief. I became an instant hero, satisfying my childhood dream, I guess!

I lived most of my medical life in the same town that produced the famous Heimlich maneuver. Heimlich was a brilliant surgeon, who did a lot of studies about how to dislodge foreign bodies in tracheas of people. I had the privilege of visiting his office, full of accolades on his wall from people who thanked him for saving their lives through this maneuver. It was a good reminder of this not uncommon problem. One time indeed, as we were having dinner at a conference, one of our distinguished endocrinologists had a piece of meat stuck in his trachea. I was able to jump up and perform this Heimlich maneuver by hugging him tightly from behind, and “squeeze out” the meat, to save him from choking. It was quite an experience to do that on a friend, again confirming my hero instincts!
我大部分的职业生涯都是住在著名的哈姆立克急救法 (Heimlich maneuver)诞生的城市。哈姆立克医生是一位出色的外科医生,他做了很多研究来解除气管异物。我有光荣地拜访他的办公室,里面挂满了为他发明的急救法拯救的生命而给他的表彰。这也提醒我们气管异物并不罕见。真的有一次,就在我们 在外地开会用餐的时候,我的一位杰出的内分泌学家喉咙里卡了一块肉。我跳起来,从后面紧紧地抱住他,施行了哈姆立克急救法,“挤”出了那块肉,让他从哽噎中解脱出来。在一个朋友身上用急救法真是不寻常的经历,再次证实了我的所为是英雄。

Photo 2: Wood plank porches are great for pretty little girls with agile bare feet, but likely challenging for a lady in high heels, creating a perfect situation for a hero to save the damsel.

Not too long ago, I was at a wedding. A dainty young college girl had come to the wedding party in high heels. The wedding facility was in a rustic garden setting and she was obliged to walk on wooden planked floors and wooden planked stairs. Based on my “Boy Scout be prepared motto,” and my surgical training, I could sense that there was trouble coming, as I saw her walk across the porch towards the dangerous looking stairs going down into the garden.

I was already prepared in my mind that “this did not look good.” Sure enough, after she started on the first step down, she started tumbling down the steps. My hero instincts zipped up, and to my own amazement, I shot up from my table close to the stairs, to catch her just as her head and body were just about to hit the floor. I was able to snatch her back up in a split second without any apparent injury, or anybody really noticing that a disaster has just been averted! That’s probably the best kind of heroism, huh?

Of course, once I focused my work and life on my medical career in Neonatology, the care of sick newborn babies, I’ve had many opportunities to fulfill my instincts, since the field is full of babies stopping breathing, stopping their hearts, etc. The beauty is that, in such a situation all you have to do is jump to the bedside, start pumping on the chest or the heart, or put in a tube in the trachea, and in very quick order a premature baby can go from near death to instant recovery. Babies are extremely resilient, even, or especially, in the premature state, and so you get the joy of seeing near deaths averted, and anybody with action driven instincts would find this an interesting “heroic” profession!
当然,在我开始专注在新生儿科,医治生病的新生儿和早产儿之后,因为病房到处是呼吸骤停,心跳骤停的婴儿,所以我有很多机会去用我的”英雄本能”。神奇的是,你所需要做的只. 是跑到床边,用手指压几次前胸,或者插个气管插管,很快地一个早产儿能从临死迅速恢复。婴儿异常有韧性,甚至,尤其是,在早产的状态,所以你能看到临死被逆转,任何人被行动本能驱使的都会发现这是一个很有趣的“英雄”职业!

Childhood dreams have a way of being fulfilled, even heroic ones, maybe sometimes in ways that we don’t expect and better than we even dreamed about. There is an amazing verse that is the dreamer’s dream verse. But seek first His kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33. Hero dreams, anyone?
儿时的梦想可能终有实现的一天, 特别是对生命有意义的梦想。也许有时并不是我们所能想象的方式,也可能会比我们梦想的还好。有一个有名的经文送给做梦的人。“你们要先求祂的国和祂的义,这些东西都要加给你们了”, 马太福音6:33. 英雄梦,有人吗?

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