MEDICAL STUDENTSHORT STORIES

Do the Stitches Hurt?

OgoOluwa Ajiboso

400-level Medicine & Surgery

Olabisi Onabanjo University


The first time I saw a surgery, it was a mastectomy—I can’t remember if it was the left or right breast.
I can, however, remember, vividly, the tightening in my belly when the breast tissue was lifted away from the body and kept in a jar. The questions that flooded my mind came from nowhere!  


Is this how futile our body parts are? 


At what point did she decide she was ready to give up one of the pair of organs she was probably most excited about when puberty visited? 


Did she have a husband?
Did it matter to him? 

What stage was her cancer at? 

Did she need to get a special kind of underwear? 

What will they do with the breast mass? 

After the anaesthesia wears off, will the stitches hurt? 

These questions didn’t see the light of the theatre, and I didn’t even bother pushing them. They just sat still in my mind, gathering dust for the next journey.

This procedure was apparently the last resort for women whose breast cancer couldn’t be controlled. My mind raced back to a loved one we lost to this disease. I didn’t remember crying then—I had mastered the art of mourning silently and that ability came in handy as I mourned my freedom that day in the operating room. 

At what point do I unlearn the theme songs of all the Nickelodeon shows from my young teenage years and replace them with surgical terms and procedures? 

Did they teach how to withstand pain here? 

Or will the tightening in my belly become so familiar that I won’t feel it? 

How would I look in that surgical gown? Holding that scalpel? 

Did I need to throw away my large hoops? 

The multiple questions were back, and this time, they didn’t sit still. They threw tantrums, complaining about how the previous questions were sitting in their space.

Watching the surgeon go layer after layer with precision and sheer skill, I remembered I still couldn’t even walk in a straight line. Maybe that precision and accuracy were needed for just surgery. 

Do I even want to be a surgeon? 

Unlike other departments, they weren’t actually cajoling us to specialize in surgery. They threw subtle shades at other departments—very subtle, with no actual effort. Maybe because they knew that just watching them open up a human body, like it was 100-naira Agege bread, and rearranging the insides, like a woman arranging the fruits she hawked, was enough to help us decide to either join the league of those who knew the human body well enough to reach into it and fix it or just stay away because the smell made us puke.  

P. S.
Click here to watch our YouTube video with Dr Kiki Omeili | Doctor and Actress in Nollywood

Click here to watch our YouTube video on why you shouldn’t study Medicine at the University.

Click here to watch our interview with Dr Rebecca Okolo (HealthThenMore) on studying in the UK, the US, and Canada.

Pendical Admin

PENDICAL an educational weblog creates a platform for medical personnel/practitioners including medical students to share inspiring stories, lifestyles, and resources for medical personnel/practitioners or anyone aspiring to be a physician thereby encouraging and promoting diversity in lifestyle, mindset, thoughts and experience among medical personnel and medical students. PENDICAL started out, like many realities, a dream. It is a weblog whose contributors are medical personnel. In a most profound way, medicine and health meet art in the realm of writing. What we seek to achieve cannot be summarized into bullet points, but if through the pieces herein someone’s path is more illuminated or another is inspired to reach beyond its ‘limits’, if doubts are cleared from this mind or the spirit of another are lifted after a long day, PENDICAL would have served well in the line of duty. Our core values are creativity, excellence, truth, and passion.

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