The man who cut my wife and the man who poisoned her

My wife had breast cancer. It had got into the lymph nodes and come within three millimetres of the chest wall when Burton took a knife to her and cut her breast off.

He cut her breast off. He hacked into her body, cut out an evil alien life-form that was growing to consume her in a painful death, and then he sewed her back up without killing her.

Then Peter poisoned her. He pumped her full of toxins so vile the nurses administering them had safety procedures not to get them on anyone's skin. He killed parts of her without killing all of her.

People like Burton and Peter save so many lives (including my sister's as well) we are in danger of losing sight of what it is they do, of passing the billboard by and rushing on. I looked at Burton one day when the two of us were alone in his office, and I said "I can't imagine what it is like to be you. While I get paid as much as you to persuade people to spend other people's money to buy software they don't need, you get up every morning and save other people's lives by cutting them apart. I can't begin to imagine how it feels to be you". He just smiled a shy smile and changed the subject: the man is a saint.

What is it like? Is it frightening responsibility? A grind? A burden, an inescapable curse? Just a job? A glowing satisfaction? Life's richest reward? Satisfaction we mortals can only dream of?

They make mistakes. What happens when someone dies? Do they just think "Oops - better not do it that way again"? I doubt it. I'm sure it cuts them. How does it feel to get up the next morning, hopefully not take it out on the wife and kids, and go back to work to try again?

Stop now and ponder how it might be to be Burton. And give thanks people like him are about.

And the next time a boss is going on about how important this deal or project is, tell them (or yourself) no it isn't. It ****ing isn't. What Burton and Peter do is important, especially when it is you they are trying not to kill.

See also: What Matters


Particularly poignant

I have a partner who has been cut and poisoned by the same gentlemen you name. And Peter poisoned me also after a John had wielded his knife. Sometimes the cure sounds far worse than the disease. But I'm here because I came out on the right side of the statistical ledger. A ledger that goes something like "no cures gaurenteed, but this will add 10% to the chance that you will live another 5 years. Which is currently at less than 50% by the way".

But that's not why I put in a reply. Now we are some years down the track from being cut and poisoned we find Burton, Peter and John are drifting out of our memories. The man who irradiated me is an example of one who has almost completely gone from recollection. Likewise we stop to smell the roses less frequently. Spend more time thinking the deals and projects are important because those driven by Wall St tell us they are.

It takes something like this blog, or tragically the loss of someone who was beyond the skills of those like Peter/Burton/John, to remind us of what should be important to us. So thankyou for pulling me back on track a little.

Lest we forget