The Sorcerer’s Scalpel and Paperboys in Early Morning Hours


A 7;30 start in the operating room. How I love 7:30 starts. On the highway to the operating room at 6:30. I won’t be late. I respect the hour. The city is still asleep. Not much traffic. It was an easy drive.

 I thought about the days of my surgical training. The surgical team would arrive in the hospital by 6 AM for rounds, catching up with the night’s events and planning the needed tasks for the day. Then, we would hustle down to the  cafeteria by 7 AM for a cup of coffee and a hurried breakfast. We might glance quickly on our way to the operating room at tabloid headlines in a New York Post someone in the cafeteria has left behind. Something to amuse us, something light, some connection to the outside world.

I thought back to my youth. I was a paperboy with an early morning paper route. Then I was on the street by 5:30 AM. I delivered two papers, one the state paper and another the local paper. Neither knew I was working for their competition. I’d open the paper before starting, checking the scores and the funnies. I got the news before anyone else. I loved the early morning, throwing the neatly folded papers onto porches long before those inside awoke. At the end of the route, newspaper print turned my hands black. I needed to scrub them clean when back home….

There’s something primal, ritualistic about entering the operating room at 7:30, greeting the patient, adjusting the lights, hustling along the operating staff, and scrubbing clean before being gowned and gloved

Here we put folks back to sleep while the world awakes, shakes off their sleep, and starts a pot of coffee. We don’t work in normal time. There are no windows in the operating room. It could be day or night. No outside references.

We work outside the normal, inside the body, in areas once forbidden to enter or explore. Now we enter those sacred spaces routinely and carefully, but still ritualistically.

The hour has arrived: the sorcerer’s scalpel is lowered to the skin and the surgical day begins….just after sunrise.