In The Beginning
“In The Beginning”
by Dr. Garramone
I was born a second son to a military family. Both of my parents were hard-working individuals. My father was a Physician in the military. I used to like telling my friends he was an “Officer” in the sense they would believe he was a Policeman. I didn’t understand the importance of the career of a Military Officer, nor did I appreciate the gravitas of his very important career as a Physician. I wouldn’t understand this until later. Just for now, I was a seven-year old kid living in Arizona trying to impress my friends by telling them my dad was an “Officer”. My mother started college while I was growing up, so we had to fend for ourselves pretty often. While my mother was at classes and my father at work, we cooked and cleaned at a much younger age than what I would let my own children perform. My childhood was a happy childhood, but we moved around a lot so I had to make new friends every few years. Sometimes that is harder to do than moving. Just meeting people, learning their social circles, and adapting myself into their realm became a daunting task. This was pretty much the pattern of my life since I was a child, move to a new area, live there for a few years, then move again.
Detroit, Michigan: My wife and I sat in a car parked outside the hospital where I had begun my Surgical Residency. I had been working 140 hours per week, which was seeming like an endless winter. One of my Surgical Attendings (this is a title given to a senior Surgeon who is training residents), was relentlessly badgering me with insults and setting me up in scenarios where I would always fail. You see, Surgical residency has no glory. There is never a “Thank You” or “Good Job!”, not one encouragement in your abilities. We start as young innocent Interns, and are forced to wade through the muck of Senior Residents dumping work on you, abusive treatment by Surgical Attendings, lack of sleep, lack of food, and the look of pity glanced upon you by all of the other training physicians who wisely chose a different career path other than Surgery. We were fools, just blundering fools. I was like a child lost in a shopping mall. I didn’t know where to look, and I didn’t know who to talk to. I didn’t exist. I hated the road I had chosen for my career, I just wanted to quit, and I was quitting today.
“You can do what you want, but you dragged me here from Florida to Detroit when we got married, so make up your mind.” my wife Kelli spoke quietly in that freezing cold car in Michigan.
I stared straight ahead into the hazy winter night, beyond the partial build up of fog on the inside of our car windows, with an aching anxiety of returning to the hospital to attend to patients. I turned to her and gave her a kiss just as my pager started to beep. So I said goodnight to her, smiled, and got out of the car and marched into the hospital with a fire inside of me. From that one defining day forward, the day I would quit and move on to something else, from the desolation of hopelessness, I stopped being a worthless fool of an Intern.
I learned that day that being a Surgeon meant standing up and shoving your way forward. The world moved only if you made it move. You had to become a Mountain among mountains.