Some reflections on neurosurgery:
Instead of hearing Mozart gently playing while the surgeon quietly sat at the head of the operating table, as I had always imagined neurosurgery, two surgeons stood towering over the patient, the hum of the craniotome (a high-powered drill) drowning out all other noises in the room. My first neurosurgery was nothing like how I imagined it would be, and yet it surpassed all my hopes and expectations.
As the skull fractured and pieces of it were extracted to expose the underlying tissue, I found myself standing in awe of what was transpiring in front of me. The surgeon pointed out the dura mater as he gently peeled it back, and suddenly the delicate grooves of the cerebellum replaced the space where the dura mater had just been. Bulging, beating, and beautiful, this piece of biological tissue was the reason the man laying in front of me was able to walk through the park with his partner, sign his name on a lease for a house, and embrace his children after they had taken their first steps. Quite literally, I was looking at the closest thing to tangible consciousness as I ever will in my entire life. I found myself fighting tears as I realized both the sanctity of the moment and the sacredness of the operating room. Simultaneously, I felt an overwhelming amount of thankfulness for the opportunity to see such a vulnerable, raw part of a person. I was humbled by the opportunity to join these surgeons as they ventured into the cranial cavity, searching for a tumor that was reaking havoc on the patient’s neurobiology and physiology. And perhaps most importantly, I felt an overwhelming amount of awe as I watched a piece of God’s craftsmanship being uncovered for the first before my eyes. After years of expectantly waiting, I was finally able to see what, in my humble (but partially biased) opinion, is one of God’s most incredible creations. This, in fact, is why I’m so passionately in love with neuroscience– I feel God’s presence and omnipotence most abundantly when I’m learning about the intricacies of the human brain.
**Disclaimer: I was given explicit permission to take all of these photographs!