Assault with a deadly weapon (def):
physical actions that cause serious bodily harm or an assault made with a dangerous weapon (e.g., gun, knife, etc). A felony crime punishable by time in prison.

I cut people for a living. I violate their bodies and see them in their most vulnerable state. The difference between me and the definition above is that assault requires and intent to cause harm. Assault is without consent. Assault is not sterile or ordered or evidence based. Assault is violent. Some of those whose bodies I violate are indeed victims of assault; my job is to try and reverse the harm. Despite this knowledge, despite the oath there are still days when my work feels violent. With the cut of the knife/scalpel blood is shed. Evisceration is grotesque and promiscuous. Death still lingers and just like the shot from a gun, my actions sometimes are simply one act along the road to death. Death often occuring at some point after days, weeks or months of prolonged poisoning and poking and prodding and overinflating in an ICU. Somedays my work feels violent.

Most days my work feels like purpose. Most days it is fullfilling. Patient care is an art I cherish and feel honored to be a part of. The OR is a place when the use of delicate techniques are executed with precision that has be honed and perfected with years of practice and dedication. Most days I see the OR, the patients room, the hospital as hallowed ground. But every now and then my resolve is shattered – a baby dies, a person can not be “fixed, ” a mass casualty occurs – and on those days I feel powerless and this work feels like

violence.

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