It’s been a while. I’m sorry; peds and surgery have taken over my life. More on them later, but for now, a little appetizer:
The other day, I held a human heart, beating, in my hand. It was bigger than my fist and finely slippery, like satin on bare skin. The aorta throbbed away just cephalad. Think of it — a human heart! Not brown-gray like my cadaver, nor red like cartoons. Yellow, bright neon smiley-face yellow, shout-to-the-world yellow, lovely protective pericardial fat yellow.
Clamp clamp clamp, suddenly tubes everywhere, a word from the attending and dark blood flew through the tubes to the machines behind us, a second later bright red blood flew back, all with the precision of model trains. I looked down into the body cavity again: the heart just lay there. The lungs began to shrink away.
We did the graft — two coronaries; this was a sick guy. Microanastomosis through microscopes, beautiful perfect whipstitching. Another word from the surgeon and the tubes came out and the heart, which had lain there most obligingly, began to contract. Just a little at first. The attending prodded it with a finger and it angrily kicked back. He pulled out the paddles and shocked non-chatantly, as though it were merely a formality. That started the heart galloping. We closed (and by we, I mean the surgeon said “Have you sutured before? Go for it!” as he scrubbed out and my classmate and I closed this man’s midline sternotomy).
Today, I held a human heart, beating and then not and then beating again, in my hand. I begin to see why people like this field.