Hey everyone ever, I went to the Operating Room!

My heart pounded, echoing in my ears and causing the butterflies in my stomach to once again begin their nausea-inducing dance. Although I assumed my lack of breath was from my ridiculous amount of excitement ast the prospects of traveling off-floor and to the operating room for the observation of surgery, it may have had more to do with the gigantic steps and fast pace of the transported who seemed none too pleased at the thought of dragging a student down to OR. But now matter.

I arrived in the OR with high expectations, and then spent the next thirty minutes watching the nurse take vitals and chart relevant data, all of which was seven times cooler than similar actions on 11 east because this was the OR! Blood pressure registered, the nurse slipped away, leaving my patient and I sitting, waiting, wishing, hoping for our meeting with the surgeon to happen soon. I asked my patient why she had come to the OR, and after much deliberation, she informed me that her hand was broken and she needed corrective surgery. I asked to see, and she produced a slight bruised, withered old-lady hand, but nothing that seemed out of the ordinary. I shrugged and sat back down, tapping my foot in time to the heart monitor.

She turned to me again, looking at me exactly the way a dear old acquaintance wouldn’t, and asked me for the seventh time if I knew where about her daughter was? I eased her worries, again assured her that her surgery was happening tonight, and proceeded to migration of surgeons and nurses in and out of the patients’ rooms. After a time the anesthesiologist, Mike, arrived and began firing off questions that my lady very nearly was able to follow and answer. He leaned over the bed and removed the blanket, and I felt my cheeks burn as it was revealed that her other arm was in a cast to the elbow, and that she had merely been confused when she showed me her intact hand. The theme was set. For the rest of my visit, as I would attempt to appear smart, I would instead overlook the obvious and make myself appear to be an awkward foolish student. But no matter!

As the prepared her for surgery, Mike explained what they would do to her arm. By injecting a numbing agent into a nerve bundle by her neck, he would put the entire arm into a, “I fell asleep on my arm for three hours and now it feels like it is not part of me” haze, and would prevent her from feeling pain during or after the surgery. The doctor talked through the whole procedure, both explaining to me and the patient exactly what was going on. And then, crisis struck. They were severely lacking in people! Who would tell them when her fingers were twitching? Who would hand the doctor the syringe that he so desperately need? Luckily I was there and was able to do all of those things due to my intense and remarkable medical trainings. Score one point, Student Nurse!

Nerve block firmly in place (and a costume change from student nurse to operating room student nurse), we sat again. “Yes ma’am, you are supposed to not feel your arm. Yes ma’am, your surgery is happening tonight. Yes ma’am, your daughter is just outside in the waiting room. Yes ma’am, we are operating on your thumb. Yes ma’am, this is the hospital.” Eventually, the nurse came to collect the patient and we went off to the operating room in our own so merry way.

Upon arriving, the surgeon turned to me and demanded my name. “Allyson”, I stuttered. He gave me a critical glance, took a step closer and asked if I knew how to sing. Taken aback by his question, I responded that I did. “Good. Brush up on your show tunes Allyson. We sing in this operating room. Now go get some lead.” Although I attempted to process this all, my thoughts were interrupted as I was dragged out to the hallway and dressed in an attractive three-piece suit destined to get me back problems, with a thyroid-protecting necklace type cuff to boot! Fabulous! As a final preparation, I pinched the metal band in my face shield to a prefect custom fit, and marched back to the space allotted to me. The staff in attendance had been doing to intricate “dance of the sterile drape” as the patient’s thumb was iodined, draped, re-draped, pre-draped, covered, and otherwise made sterile in preparations for the surgeons. With the help of propofol, my patient has drifted off to a place where thumbs weren’t broken and she never had to worry about where her daughter was. Draped in a towel to keep warm, she resembled Mother Teresa, peacefully awaiting a restored thumb so she could better go out and save the world. The resident performing the surgery, affectionately named “Boy Wonder” by the attending, took a deep breath, sighed deeply, and then grabbed a drill with the intent and drive so necessary to restore this patient’s thumb to its former glory.

But then the surgeon told him to put the drill down and instead arrange the thumb manually before power tools were brought in the mix. After approximately 4 seconds of stuttering, Boy Wonder did as he was told and began manipulating the thumb back into position with the help of his handy sidekick, they fluoroscope. When the thumb was suitably aligned, the drill was once again retrieved and the real orthopedics began. Vvvvzzzzz. Vvz. Vzzzzzz. Vzzzzzt. Vzzzt. Vzt vzt vzt vzt. Vzzzzvvvvvvt. The long silvery needle began to advance into the bone in order to, per the attending, “shish kabob the thumb.” The next thirty minutes consisted of needle in, needle out, needle in, needle out, until the surgeon’s frustrations cause him to relive Boy Wonder of the drill and finish the job himself. Meanwhile, I was thanking the OR gods that facial masks were part of the get-up, because I would have been embarrassed had they caught a glimpse of my gaping mouth and deer-in-the-headlights expression. When the pins were in place and capped, dressing was called for and the patient’s arm was wrapped until it no longer resembled an arm, but instead resembled a long, cylindrical object wrapped in gauze and cotton battings.
With the surgery finished and good work done, we prepared to leave. But then, a song came on. Up until this point, I had been unable to comply with the surgeon when he insisted I sing, because my bank of knowledge is primarily medical terminology, how to be a therapeutic communication, and chemistry jokes, and not show tune lyrics. But this one struck a chords, and as I sang, his face lit up and he informed me that I welcome to come back anytime to his OR, provided that I sing. I refrained from skipping merrily to the PACU, because that wouldn’t really be a display of professionalism, but did along a slight bounce to my step. I touched in with the nurses, thanked the staff, and then wandered the halls of the OR until a particularly angry nurse pitied me and showed me exactly how I could get out of what appeared to be her surgical unit. Yikes. And then I skipped merrily to the elevators and got back to the unit just in time to take vital, which are my second most favorite thing ever.

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