This is an excerpt from the memoirs of a Mad Scientist. It was the inspiration behind the song “Surgery Room” on my album Mad Scientist PHD. Click the image below to download from iTunes.
What’s more painful than telling a man he’s going to die? As much as professors and professionals might try to explain what you will feel and how to cope, there’s no preparation for that moment of looking into the eyes and seeing the life that you must explain will be extinguished. The memory of each face, before and after, still haunts me.
There have been failed surgeries in the past. A man or woman will be dying of something terrible and the only way to save them is by performing a delicate and intense surgery. Of course, there are those times when even the surgery doesn’t heal their ailment. Even worse is when they die during the very surgery which is meant to make them better. I walk from those rooms feeling the burden of guilt weighing in on my chest at a million tons. Burning tears (and I’m not a crier) stain my cheeks. I am a murderer.
But I was only trying to help. I was only trying to save him. Is it on my conscience even if he was already dying? Do I take the blame? Could I have saved him if I did something a little different? How can I live with myself? Will these faces that float around in my mind ever leave me?
I feel like I am a disease, I am an illness. I am the cancer.
But it is I who has begged these people to fight the cloud of death.
“Keep breathing, man! Don’t die on me! Come on, stay with me!”
But sometimes they go. Maybe I shouldn’t have tried. Maybe they could’ve lived for a while longer. Maybe somehow their illness would’ve healed itself. Could they have spent just a few more weeks with their family? Would that have been better than the possiblity of the surgery being a success? Did I cut short their life? Was it just me? Did I help them die? These are the questions that can drive a man insane.
Thou shall not murder, or thou shall not kill. I fear both have been my doom in this surgery room, but I never meant them ill.
I never meant them ill.