Yesterday was a long and rough day at work. It didn't begin with the presage of being unduly lengthy, as the first surgery for which I was to be in attendance wasn't scheduled to begin until 6:30 a.m., which meant I could show up at some point between 5:00 and 5:30, which I did. Matters were not helped by my having picked up a cold at some point during the night, but such is life in the world of medicine. You don't skip surgery for a mere cold. You keep your stinking mask on all day even when you're not in surgery, but you show up and you stay there until you're kicked out of the hospital or surgical center by one of your superiors.Then some lady's fallopian tube exploded, and the surgeon who was to lead the surgery previously scheduled for 6:30 was suddenly out of commission. All of the other surgeries that were scheduled still happened -- just later than they should have started. I finally got away from the hospital at 8:05 p.m.
I arrived at my condo to find Matthew at home with our living room full of his buddies eating pizza and watching -- of all things -- some ESPN program about how the 2016 NFL draft picks would fare in the upcoming fantasy football season. Jesus fucking Christ! Why doesn't ESPN just televise ants carrying food across kitchen counters? It would be a hell of a lot more relevant and equally entertaining.
I left to get an ice cream cone and briefly texted a friend, but almost as soon as I was handed my ice cream cone in the drive-through lane, I was overcome with violent gastric symptoms. I pulled my car far enough from any other cars in the parking lot so that I could drop the ice cream cone onto the pavement (I'm not usually a litterer, but I made an exception) and could empty the almost nonexistent contents of my stomach in relative peace. I then drove home, plugged my nose so that I wouldn't smell the pizza and beer as I walked though my living room, not that I could have smelled it anyway with the nasal congestion of my cold, and put two towels at the bottom of my bedroom door so that the smell of the pizza wouldn't pervade my bedroom and make me sicker than I already was.
Work itself was less than delightful. One cannot expect it to be fun when experiencing cold symptoms, but a scratchy throat, headache, and sinus pressure were to be the very least of my troubles. During an exploratory laparotomy, the lead surgeon dropped a clamp. There wasn't another identical clamp on the tray, so he (the lead surgeon) hurled a few choice expletives as one of the nurses quickly hurried to grab another from an already sterilized set of surgical implements. The nurse handed the clamp to the surgical technician [who technically must be the one to hand every instrument, sponge, towel, or whatever piece of equipment is used in a procedure to the surgeon, and then must take it back if it is not something that is to remain inside the patient, because he or she is responsible for accounting for every piece of equipment and for ensuring that nothing is left inside the patient that isn't supposed to be left there], who inadvertantly dropped the second clamp. I was standing slightly behind and between the nurse and the surgical technician but had no physical contact with either, which made it most puzzling when the surgeon hollered, "Goddamn faecal encephalopathic!"
The O.R. tech gave him an ugly look, or as least as much of an ugly look as one person can give another with two-thirds of one's face covered by a surgical mask, and commented, "You could have just said 'shit for brains.' Everyone here knows what faecal encephalopathy means. You weren't impressing anyone or sparing anyone's feelings, not that that you've been known to spare anyone's feelings before." She paused for a breath, then continued. "And so I dropped a damned clamp. You dropped one before I did. No one felt the need to spout f-bombs when it was your fault."
"I wasn't directing anything at you!" the lead surgeon retorted.
"So I'm the one with shit for brains?" the nurse who had retrieved the second clamp chimed in. Meanwhile, someone else had grabbed a third clamp and handed it to the O.R. tech, who wordlessly handed it to the lead surgeon, who miraculously managed not to drop it.
"Did I expressly identify you as the faecal encephalopathic among us?" he asked her, looking up briefly from the patient's open abdomen. (Radiological reports were unclear as to precisely what was amiss with the patient's organs, necessitating a full laparotomy as opposed to the less invasive laparoscopic procedure.)
"I handed the clamp to Lisa [the O.R. tech]," the nurse responded. "It fell to the floor. I handed off poorly, or she flat-out dropped it. You seem to be the self-proclaimed official scorer here, not that we've ever needed one before. If you weren't yelling at her, it must have been at me."
"Try Option 3," the lead surgeon spat out.
"And what might that option be?" asked the assisting surgeon, a third-year resident, an ordinarily soft-spoken woman.
"That would be Baby Bimbo standing right there between Thing 1 and Thing 2 who couldn't quite keep her hands to herself," the lead surgeon answered. My jaw dropped almost to the floor, though no one could have observed it through the surgical mask.
The O.R. tech and the nurse who handed the clamp to her both began heated responses to the lead surgeon when a voice came over the intercom. 'You have a patient on the table, Dr. ********," said what sounded like the voice of God through an intercom, but was actually the voice of the doctor charged with supervising surgical clerkships and residencies. (Some surgical suites have viewing areas above them, which this one did. Those in the surgical suite cannot hear anything from the observation point unless someone presses the intercom button. As often as not, the viewing areas are unoccupied, but a relatively high authority stopped by to observe at a rather timely point in the procedure.)
The surgery proceeded in virtual silence, interrupted only by requests for instruments as needed. As the senior resident was making the final closing sutures, the lead surgeon looked up to ensure that no one was in the viewing area, then looked directly at me. "You cannot tell me, Princess Anorexia," his voice heavily laced with sarcasm, "that you didn't reach for the clamp and cause Ms. Herman [the O.R. tech; though she was known by "Lisa" to everyone in the room, I was, it seemed, unworthy even for a reference by her first name to be directed at me] to drop the clamp?"
As I was pondering the specifics of my answer, Lisa answered for me. "No, she didn't touch the damned clamp. I dropped it, it as you dropped the one before."
'What's this?" the lead surgeon countered. "She can't speak for herself? Do you even have a voice?"
"Is this really necessary?" the senior resident asked as she made the knot on the final suture. "And by the way, things you've said in here have been precariously close to sexual harassment."
Peronally, I'm not overly concerned with verbal sexual harassment. For the most part, if they keep their hands to themselves, I don't care what questionable things they might say along the lines of sexual innuendo. I draw the line, however, at false accusations of any nature.
"I just want to know if she's capable of speaking," the lead surgeon continued. "I've heard no evidence that she has a voice."
"What do you want me to say?" I asked him, making direct eye contact.
"Anything!" he shrugged.
"Anything,' I responded.
Laughter broke out in the room as the lead surgeon rolled his eyes and muttered, "How intelligent!"
I made it out of the room and out of the scrubs and paraphernalia in record time. I didn't want to talk to anyone. Another surgery, thankfully with another surgeon, was scheduled for less than fifteen minutes from the time I made it out of the partial hysterectomy, and I would need to rush to be scrubbed and ready in time to be allowed to be present for it.
My next and final surgery for the day -- a thyroidectomy -- went without incident. I just felt sorry for the patient for having to wait so late in the day for the procedure. Few things are more agonizing than waiting as a patient for a surgical procedure. Fortunately, it was short and to the point, everyone inside the O.R. behaved professionally, and the patient came through recovery with minimal discomfort.
So I made it through an especially arduous day, made all the more difficult with the symptoms of a cold, only to be hit with a gastric illness, and, unless someone else who lives in this condo has acted in a most uncharacteristic manner, a messy living room and kitchen with which to deal. Matt will likely pull the martyr act and say that because he is on call for Saturday while I have the weekend off, all the clean-up chores should fall upon me. If I open the door this morning to find the downstairs area not cleaned to my specifications, I will telephone the complex's on-call cleaning crew and arrange to have the entire downstairs area be made spotless at Matthew's expense. If he doesn't fork over the money willingly, I'll call my dad and rat him out, and the money will be deducted from his next month's spending allotment. It shouldn't be a problem for him, as my grandmother sent him a hefty check for his half-birthday (?!?) last month.
P.S. I received a text message at 1:06 a.m. from my preceptor telling me that I am to meet her at her office at an early time this morning. (She indicated the time, but for security reasons, I can divulge neither the precise time nor the specific location.) She mentioned the importance of punctuality, as others besides her self may possibly be present as well. I didn't see the text at the time it came, but I checked my phone just while ago when it dinged for another reason, and then I saw her message. I've never been asked to meet with her except regular scheduled-well-in-advance meetings, and certainly never on a Saturday. She's a psychiatrist and almost never works Saturdays. This cannot possibly be good. I suppose I may as well give up on the idea of sleep for the rest of the night.