Friday, May 11, 2007


Although we do tend to talk about the work at hand when operating, such as discussing possible aberrant anatomy, or a modification in the planned procedure, most times our conversations digress to other matters of lesser importance. The operating room table is the surgeon equivalent of the water cooler.

Me: [while working on a patient's cancer] Too bad you weren't able to come over for dinner yesterday.

Resident B: [standing on the opposite side of the table] Yeah... I ate some suspect BBQ earlier, and it lead to some bowel trouble. I wasn't about to challenge my colon again with some curry.

Me: Didn't the BBQ taste funny?

Resident B: Not really... [thinks for a minute while we explore the patient's pancreas] No, actually it might have tasted a bit off, but I didn't think much of it until I was done eating.

Med Student: [happens to be Indian] You made curry?

Me: Yup.

Med Student: [sounding impressed] Home made?

Me: Well, partially. I have store-bought pre-made curry cakes that I use as a base, but I also add my own mixture of spices.

Resident B: Did you use chicken or lamb?

Me: Neither. I used beef.
[The room immediately falls silent as everybody mulls over my choice of meat in this traditionally Indian dish.

The sudden realization of my blatantly insulting use of beef as the main ingredient slaps me across the face.

Sheepishly, with my foot in my mouth, I slowly look over at the medical student. He simply shrugs.]
Med Student: [smiling broadly behind his surgical mask] It's alright man, I'm Sikh. We eat beef. The Hindi don't.