Being a trauma doctor takes guts, commitment, passion and compassion and these are qualities that Lize Gouws from Hartbeespoort does not seem to have a shortage of.
Combining the emergency room with an aesthetic medical practice , she seems to have found the perfect balance.
“I told my mother when I was two years old that I was going to be a doctor. My dad, who was a general practitioner, said NO… do something else,” she laughs.
Talking to her at her practice, at her aesthetic rooms, against the beautiful and peaceful Magaliesberg Mountain, the surroundings are far removed from the harsh reality of an emergency room.
“This is my hobby that keeps me sane,” she says about her aesthetic medical practice.
“Here I can help people be well and look after their health. It is the total opposite of the emergency room where you face sadness and despair.”
Lize is a full-time trauma doctor at the Montana Hospital in Pretoria, and despite the fact that it is one of the most stressful occupations one can imagine, she has a real passion for it. Most medical students have a preferential discipline, but I liked it all and trauma seemed a natural choice. I enjoy the sudden unpredictable nature of it with no sure outcome. There is a lot of sadness but also joy seeing people survive. You impact people’s lives in a few minutes and you can make a difference in their circumstances and state of mind at the time. The emergency room keeps you on your knees,” she says.
“It is difficult but I bring spirituality to everything. I talk life and not death. I think my own trauma of contracting tuberculosis from a patient a few years ago, enforced this spirituality. The treatment makes you feel so sick… I experienced what patients have to go through. We are all just human. It changed my life. For instance, having had this disease, leaving South Africa is not so easy anymore. I realised it was a message that my place was here.
“I have experienced life, I look at people differently and this experience has given me even more compassion for my patients.
“I don’t think I can do this until I’m 60, it is very stressful and that is why I opened the aesthetic medical practice. It is positive and helps people to be well and feel better about themselves. In the casualty department it is all rush and stress, here it is tranquility.”
And as if this is not enough, she assists an orthopedic surgeon in his operations. “I really like it. It is all about fixing people, and it is really nice to fix things.”
It is not easy juggling her very busy workload and her family that is all-important to her. “I often work late at night but my husband is my rock and mentor and he guides me. He is the finance guy. I would treat patients for free if he didn’t keep me in check.”
And then there are her two children, Zack (11) and “miracle baby” Leané (2). “After Zack I was told I could not have more children. I had bag eggs,” she laughs. But then to her, and the medical world’s astonishment, she fell pregnant at 40! “I thought I had menopause…!”
Her plans for the future are to cut down on her trauma work in the emergency room. “It is stressful but I would like to be involved more in a training capacity. And then I want to build up my aesthetic practice here in Hartbeespoort. “
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