TALES FROM THE O.R.
Let me start with The End. I have a book full of unbelievable stories that are sad, funny, short and downright frightening. I originally just wanted to write an article on “When you know it’s time to leave a job”. Then I looked back on all of the real nightmares I experienced and had to share them.
Many of these stories are graphic and I will use the exact language that was used at the time.
Who am I? I’m a guy that spent the majority of his life standing across from a surgeon standing by an operating room table. We use to be called O.R. techs and before that “instrument nurses”. But when the government stepped in and cut payments to general surgeons, many of us former military O.R. (Operating Room) Technicians became what surgery calls first assistants.
THE LAST OPERATION
I was scheduled to go home but the main desk wanted me to stay and start an “Incision and drainage” of a Bartholin cyst. Most of the public (Even some of you women) probably don’t know a Bartholin cyst from a ganglion cyst. The Bartholin gland is in a woman’s vagina. Its purpose is to lubricate the vaginal canal for sex. When the opening gets obstructed, it builds up pressure. (You can see where I’m going with this). I was assisting a female OB/GYN surgeon with this procedure. There wasn’t much room between the patients legs, but both of us were able to squeeze in between the stirrups.
I was holding the vagina open and she was doing her best to “probe” the opening. When she found it, the contents found me, I instantly had a mixture of blood, pus, and synovial fluid in my hair cover, my mask, my neck, it dripped down my chest under my shirt and of course my goggles could have used windshield wipers. They did wipe my goggles off during the case. I had one hand up this lady’s vagina holding pressure on the bleeding gland with a surgical rag while turning my head to let the nurse wipe the bloody pus out of my face, mask and handball goggles.
I was relieved of my duties shortly after by the late shift and basically went through a short decontamination process in the O.R… I thought I had gotten everything but when I left the room, my manager saw me and everyone around just backed away from me. I guess this stuff was everywhere. As ugly as your imagination can imagine; it smelled worse. That was the last operation I did at that surgery center. It was unforgettable. Just for further reference; I don’t mind the gross stuff. I’ve seen stuff I wish I could unsee, but what bothers me the most, is the smell.
My Last case
I was setting up for a laparoscopy. (Taking a scope and looking inside a belly) I was in a hurry and my gay male nurse counter-part didn’t have his Wheaties that day. I remarked on his lack of enthusiasm. (Slowness) and he said to me: “A good Tech would take his time throwing the cables off of the field”. I had just watched the movie “Roadhouse” with Patrick Swayze and doing my best villain impersonation, I responded: “I used to fuck guys like you in prison”.
The next morning my work computer would not let me log on.