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Women in Colorectal Surgery
I returned to work 4 weeks postpartum. It was my chief year, and any additional time would have meant delaying the start of fellowship. My husband was traveling for work, and I had been up the entire night with my infant daughter. They called it “purple crying.” I turned off my alarm and handed her off to my mother-in-law who was staying with us in our small one-bedroom apartment and headed into the hospital to round.
I'm not sure if it was dehydration or exhaustion. I had a syncopal episode during a liver case and then the next thing I remembered was lying flat on my back blinking against the glare of the OR lights. I was shuffled to a patient stretcher and my anesthesia resident colleague hung IV fluid. I was asked to “rest” while I instead proceeded to complete my grand rounds presentation I was scheduled to deliver the next day. I did not ask for help for fear that I would somehow be perceived as a failure. Moments like these are when I felt the most alone. And while my co-residents were like my family and truly uplifted me through my daughter's earliest months of life, the transition back to work and into the grind, the struggle to find not only balance but success, seemed impossible.
The purpose of this issue in Clinics in Colon and Rectal Surgery is to collectively voice the struggles and barriers we face as women in colon and rectal surgery. These accomplished and courageous authors have highlighted the literature and generously shared from their own experiences. By encouraging the discussion of our shared experience, we encourage further discussion on how we can continue to improve for ourselves, for our culture, and for our future.
As Brené Brown states: “For children, it's easy for everything to become a source of shame when nothing is normalized. You assume that if no one is talking about it, it must be just you.”
To our readers, it is not just you. It is all of us. Come join the conversation.
Article published online:
27 February 2023
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