Friday, July 06, 2012

The English Surgeon

I have always loved a good documentary. I prefer reality over bubble gum entertainment as I feel like I learn something, enter someone else's world, perhaps become more emphatic to something that I've been oblivious to before. Not to say that the other one doesn't serve its purpose.

ABC2 air documentaries on Sunday nights. I record them when I remember to set up Tivo, to watch them when the baby is down and Neil is away for work (he says he gets enough reality at work and wants entertainment at night).

Last night I watched "The English Surgeon" and it has left me speechless. It is about an English brain surgeon who has developed a great relationship with a Ukranian brain surgeon. The quirky and eccentric doctor from the UK has been travelling to Ukraine for 15 years to help cases that are very difficult. He also supports and provides second hand surgical equipment to the Ukranian doctor.

The paragraph above does not do justice to the emotion, sadness and reality that so many people in Ukrain have to deal with. The English doctor is one of those doctors who genuinely cares about people and loves his profession. He's very direct and sometimes comes across a bit heartless or lacking bedside manner but I think it's because he cares he doesn't beat around the bush. He says that the biggest problem over there is that people don't get diagnosed in time. A lot of these issues could have been reversed but because they are so poor and these scans cost so much money they have missed their window of opportunity.

It's really sincere and it's really emotional.

At the end, when he visits a mom of a young girl whose life he tried but couldn't save, he walks to her grave and talks about what it means to fail and in his monologue says "what are we if we don't try to help others?" and it really defines him and his work.

This resonated with me so deeply because of the upcoming trip to Latvia. Every time I visit, I see people who are very, very poor. Old men and women who have lived through two wars and a Soviet occupation and now, in their old age they are left fighting for survival to pay basic bills. Some of the stories I've heard are so sad and make me so angry.

I love these trips but they are bitter sweet. They make me look in the face of what I've left behind and in some ways conveniently avoid by living here. I am not sure that there would be much I could do by living there but somehow I feel guilty that I have removed myself and chosen to not be near those sorts of problems.

Last night I went to bed and hugged and kissed my baby boy and sincerely thanked God for the good health he's given us. 

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