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The first incision

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Winner — Student category

The scalpel sparkled in the dim, cold room. I watched with great anticipation as it was placed onto the thin lifeless arm, and I felt myself draw a sharp, shallow breath as it began to separate the layers of the skin. Pulsating waves of excitement washed over me as I watched the blood ooze rhythmically. It was as if my adventurous spirit had truly returned, unadulterated and overwhelming. The rawness of it all astounded me.

Yesterday was the first time I had been allowed into the operating room; and, apart from the brief frustration of having to account for some missing equipment, it had been an exhilarating injection of variation into my life of unceasing boredom. Medicine had recently become so tedious, a constant battle to meet its academic and emotional demands. I could not remember the last time I had actually enjoyed waking in the morning; every day seemed best spent in bed. It took all of what little strength I had remaining to undertake the long drive to the hospital.

But this moment was so real, I could feel life flowing through me, coursing through my veins. I looked around the room: it was enclosed and stuffy, but I felt unimaginably secure. The silence and darkness had a calming effect, for there was meaning and purpose in this moment. It was unlike the previous weeks, when I had struggled to pay attention to all the chaos and confusion; here…