Natia Gogokhia, 37, Zugdidi

„I am a doctor, a surgeon, and a mother of two. I faced opposition from my relatives at the time of making a decision as to which career to pursue. They explained that surgeons had to work very hard and a woman, whose duty was to take care of her children and family, would find it difficult to balance these two roles. However, I had never been discouraged by difficulties, so I chose the profession I was interested in. Studying and practicing medicine took from me the biggest physical and intellectual energy I have ever used through my conscious living journey. For years I worked together with my husband in the Zugdidi Referral Hospital. I had to do several difficult surgeries a day. Surgeons have a 24-hour schedule. It is not like going out in the morning and coming back in the evening. Quite often, during holidays, for example, at Christmas, you are sitting at a table, when they call you, and tell you that there is a patient who needs an urgent surgery and you have to leave immediately.

I have not worked as a surgeon for already four years. I have tabooed the topic because it is rather painful to realize that after years of hard work one day you have to give up your job to focus on other responsibilities.
Several years ago, when I had already had a second child, my mother helped me with house chores from time to time. On that day, both my husband and I were at work doing surgeries. In the middle of the surgery, the telephone rang, the nurse answered it and brought the receiver close to my ear. I heard my mother’s desperate voice, telling me that my daughter had been hit by a car. The only thing I managed to find out at that moment was that the child was alive. It was a complicated surgery and naturally I could not leave the patient. This was the most horrible day in my life. I had to be with my child but, at the same time, I had a professional responsibility to stay with the patient. I saw my daughter after the surgery. Fortunately, my child survived, she was just slightly injured. After that, I started to judge myself.

I was well aware of my career choice and never thought that due to family interests I would have to give up my job. However, because of all the pressure and my health condition I had to make this choice. So I abandoned my career as a surgeon. The first two years were the most difficult. During this time I realized that I had to give up everything I had devoted my whole life to…

But to me sitting home was tantamount to catastrophe. I started looking for something that would help me realize my potential and, at the same time, would leave me sufficient time for my children. First I tried to start a flower business. Together with my sister, I got tubers of 7 types of tulips from the Netherlands. This spring we grew 50,000 tulips of different colors. Again we had to work for 24 hours to maintain moisture and temperature in the greenhouse and timely irrigate the flowers. I had to walk door to door to find sales market for the tulips – I visited different chain stores in Tbilisi and Batumi and sign agreements with them. Initially we found it difficult to convince customers that our tulips remained fresh for more than 10 days but later we sold 45,000 tulips. Now we are seeking new financing opportunities to grow tulips next spring at minimum cost using the experience we have already gained.

A few months ago, I opened an agency, which provides tourism and event organization services for local and international customers. We have already received a lot of orders for the organization of birthday parties, anniversaries and weddings. Such service is not available in Zugdidi and I am happy that we are the first on the market.

I think that a woman has to have some personal space for self-realization. Everyone tries to make a balance between his/her individual interests and responsibilities towards other people. In my particular case, I have a responsibility towards my children but I should have some work for personal fulfillment too.

I am not going stop trying new things. I think that surgery and medicine provided me with such ample opportunities for self-realization that I can hardly do more in my life. I cannot compare any other profession I may have in the future with that of a surgeon. Nothing compares to being able to save a person’s life. Still, I will try to keep myself busy and come up with something innovative.“