by Nancy Alsebaiy, MSc.
My dad was always abroad, that is why I considered my brother as my Godfather; he taught me lots of things, best of it was to be compassionate, to empathize people not only sympathize them. I remember that situation, when a homeless kid tried to play with my ball, I was 5 and I felt a little bit disgusted with that game. I could never forget that look of blame saying “she didn’t choose her life, it could have been you, so don’t underestimate your blessings”. Since then, I decided to help people throughout their hard times, and Medicine was a very good way to do so.
I attended my college in Ain-Shams University, which is one of the biggest universities in Egypt. That university was far from my city, so I lived there alone away from my family, and that made me acquire independent problem-solver personality which really helped me a lot in taking decisions even in surgery. I have always liked surgery, because of its capability to determinately end the pain and put a limit to a chronic tragedy. It is hard to explain pain, as pain impacts every cell we have, it makes mornings lack rays, it prohibits sleep at night, makes friends as strangers , and turns the flavor of the chocolates and beans into the same. But the genuine motivation for me to choose Reconstructive & Hand surgery was because of my cousin. He was my best childhood’s friend ever. Unfortunately, he had a train accident, resulted in amputation of his right arm, and that was the one of the most devastating shocks of my life. Subconsciously, I became fond of fixing things at home then by time I knew that I have to fix people. That passion always motivates me to continue learning and spend more effort and time trying to improve myself to help them regaining their lives back. It is not only bodies we operate on, it is the internal peace of these lost souls.
During internship, I started to attend the clinics and the lists of daily operations in Ain-Shams university, plastic surgery department, that place opened my eyes to the protocols of Plastic surgery and the management of different types of traumas. After graduation, I continued my Master degree there. I also worked in Nasser Institute for Research and Treatment, which is a very big center in Cairo. I learned there different types of flaps, and focused more on the hand surgery, but usually were elective surgeries not urgent ones.
Actually here in Egypt, we have a major problem which faces the surgery field generally and plastic surgery specially. It is lacking of an appropriate system, no system to provide specific personnel for admitting of the patients and helping them finishing the necessary investigations, which results in vicious cycle of walking in each inch of the hospital and bureaucratic postponing for operations with exhausted furious patients. This really breaks my heart as we should alleviate the patients’ stress not to indirectly increase it. That no-system policy affects also the learning curve of the residents, as in one operation you can find 3 scrubbed residents with another 3 observing. While in another time, with same operation, technique and main surgeon you can hardly find 1 scrubbed resident. No specific mentor for each group of residents, which results in a random fluctuating improvement of the residents’ surgical skills with questionable log-book’s credibility.
There is an African proverb which I like so much, which says: “A wise man never knows all, only fools know everything”. Without that system, a mission can be triple checked by 3 residents while another mission might be left behind because each resident thought that the other did it. Another standard obstacle we face is delay, as we never start an operation before 10 am., which results in few cases done every day, too much anxiety by patient and his family from long waiting time, too much exhaustion for surgeons for nothing. Lastly and not last, there is a great shortage in the maintenance of surgical instruments and medical devices, we can face a malfunction in the surgical microscope during operation, and the surgeon has to continue only by his loops, because the other microscope has been in the maintenance for the last 6m.
But every change needs persistence and hard working to be applicable. As Bruce-Lee said: “Defeat is a state of mind, No one is ever defeated until defeat has been accepted a reality”.
Because no one knows which minor event, small talk, or just a few seconds can make him/her susceptible to an accident, and for each pregnant female is praying for having a healthy child without any congenital anomalies, I hope I can be able to continue my persuasive passion to make a difference to these people and to help as many number of patients as I can, while be able -of course- to inspire young students and to mentor them through that state of art and mind.