It was a typical Saturday, except for a stray comment from a colleague which made me rethink my hard-wired habits again. Saturdays are my usual theatre days and we had finished today’s cases and was winding up when the anesthetist- a new one- made what a seemed like a snarky comment at the moment “you spend more time on suturing and finishing up than on the actual surgery”. I was surprised at what seemed like a non-professional comment in front of the nurses and theatre assistants. This was a straight forward Millard’s Cleft repair and I had actually been faster today than I usually was with these cases as the entire future face (life-long look ) of the baby was based on where I placed my incisions and sutures today, a responsibility to get it perfectly right every time.
Ok, on further reflection, I could actually sympathize with his point of view as it was his last case of the day (and mine too) and he was probably looking forward to a long and relaxing weekend which was being delayed by my fastidious suturing There is an saying that anesthetists are like the proverbial small kids- should be seen and not heard- but I don’t really subscribe to that opinion as I feel that being the guys who looks on from the opposite side of the operating table, as all the surgeons do their stuff they have a pretty good idea of who’s good or not. I hurriedly offered him the explanation that I always double-checked my sutures for consistent placement and left the theatre. But on reflection later I understood that he had actually been complimentary to me with that remark.
A lot of surgeons hurry up the final few minutes, they suture for efficiency and function and not esthetics- after all the sutures would be covered by gauze pads and then bandaged and they would then be cut and removed after one week, so why bother? But Me, I was different. I prefer not only to do things but to do them in style. Every single suture had to be placed at the precise 2mm apart in perfect geometrical shape. And covering up from public view didn’t excuse a sloppy finish. Esthetics is part of a surgery too- it helps easier and faster healing because of the comfort for the tissues. And besides all that, if I left even one single suture out of alignment it would be nagging me all day in the back of my mind and I wouldn’t be able to relax. That brought me to think about where all I fuss about in my life.
My mom was the first one to pop into my mind. Especially the fights we have when she tries to clean up m room in my absence and messes up all my things which I have placed in their “proper” positions. When I get home and see that even a single thing is displaced from where it was, the first thing I do is put it right before even changing. And the same goes for my work space at the office. I have always placed my table at a precise position in the center of the room- the juncture of the 4thand 5th tiles from the east wall and I always restore it back to position (after the room has been cleaned) when I enter in the morning before sitting down.
But the best example would be my friend Bobby, with whom I always stay as roommates whenever we travel for conferences. Bobby has this oft-repeated dialogue for me “cleaning the room is for house cleaning..let them do their work”….this sentence is always said when we return to the room after a day’s work or sightseeing and I spend time tidying up my half of the room before going to bed, however late it is. I always fold up my clothes and pack everything up and unpack again for dressing in the morning. Bobb’s on the other hand, as soon as he enters the room jumps onto his bed and lying there watching me cleaning up keeps making all these sarcastic comments. I tell him, I am ready to vacate at a moment’s notice, is he? And he asks me back, why should he? Check out is anyway at next day’s noon and he can always hurriedly pack half an hour before the train or plane departs.
I live with the theory that even if we live in a pigsty – let’s not live like pigs. Having spent a lot of time in bachelor’s quarters when I was posted away from the city, I know how many bachelors live like pigs. They never take a moment to clean up after them and they never mind living and wallowing in that filth. I can’t, just can’t abide such irregularity in my life. I have to clean up and have everything its proper place before I can relax.
It’s like Robert Downey Jr. says in the latest Sherlock Holmes flick when asked what he sees, “I see Everything. That’s my curse”. I see everything too- it offends my sensibilities and I want everything neat and clean and proper. Is that too much to ask? Or am I too finicky?
(p.s. the good looking one (in the above picture) on the left is me and the other one is Dr.Bobby Kurien.. )