My surgeons have always been men

I’m always a little sad after the last doctor appointment after surgery. A lot sad, if I’m being honest. Not that I want surgery. Once it’s inevitable, though, I put my health into the hands of a surgeon. My surgeons have always been men. And I always fall a little bit in love with them.

I’ve had three surgeons in my adult life: Doctors Shelby, Kevin and Scott.

Dr. Shelby fixed my knee. He’s made a name for himself in the field of sports medicine since my surgery. I referred a friend to him recently and found out that he doesn’t do the common type of surgery I had anymore. He repaired a torn ligament in my knee (racquetball injury—go me).

Nowadays, when asked about my medical history, I mention that I had arthroscopic knee surgery. They ask me which knee and it’s been so many years that I don’t remember right off. I send my awareness into my knees and typically answer “left knee.” That’s the one that feels creaky. Later, I realize it was my right knee, and I was tricked because it feels better than my left knee. Because Dr. Shelby made it better.

Dr. Kevin took out my gallbladder. At the first appointment, he drew on my abdomen with a marker to show me where my gallbladder is. He also made an analogy that my gallbladder was like the exam room and there was a giant boulder in there trying to get out the door and the rest of the room was expanding like a balloon. He was funny acting it out. After he took my gallbladder out, he took a picture of the gallstone and showed it to me in recovery. It was big. It wasn’t going to cause me pain anymore. Because Dr. Kevin made it better.

Dr. Scott slit my throat and took half my thyroid. The guidance said that the nodule on my thyroid was big enough that it should be removed. He used air quotes when saying the word “guidance” to indicate we didn’t have to follow the “guidance” if we didn’t want to. We didn’t want to. Or I didn’t want to, and he was okay with that. I didn’t want surgery unless it was cancerous.

So we made a plan. We would check it for cancer and continue to monitor it if it wasn’t cancerous. He stabbed me with 12 needles over two biopsy sessions and there was a problem.

The biopsies weren’t conclusive.

So we modified the plan to take out the half with the nodule and send it to pathology. It was the only way to know for sure. If there was no cancer, we’d be done. If there was, he would take the rest of the thyroid out a couple days later and we would go from there.

There was no cancer.

So today was my last appointment with Dr. Scott. He took out my stitches and wrote me a doctor note to take to work for being off. He gave me instructions that involve removing the tape on my incision and applying Neosporin twice a day for a month. He shook my hand and wished me well.

If all goes well, I won’t see Dr. Scott again. I haven’t seen Dr. Kevin or Dr. Shelby since our last appointments, either.

Each of them cared for me and left me with scars, a small supply of good drugs and a little bit of a broken heart. A grateful heart.

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