|It was a wild and crazy day.|
I'm filling in the blanks here with the some conversation that took place in the O.R. on Friday. I was reluctant initially to include all of it, but have since been told that absolutely nothing can happen to me by virtue of my sharing it. I am including it because I suspect some of my regular readers would find it intriguing.
Directly following the dropping of the clamps (not be me), the f-bombs shouted at me, the hurled insults indicating that my head contained shit where brains should have been, and the reference to me as an anorexic and a Baby Bimbo, the conversation took a turn for the worse in the direction of sexual harassment.
The lead surgeon opined more than once on my need for breast enhancement if I wanted to be taken as a serious contender on the pageant circuit. "Although I'm not sure if it's legal yet at your age," he added. "Ah, hell, legal, schmegal, I can hook you up with a guy in Mexico who'll fix you up real nice." He asked if I'd been perfecting the pageant wave, and if I'd though of any answer more original than world peace when the pageant emcees asked me what would be my platform if I ever actually won one of the contests. He asked what my talent was. "I'll just bet you're a clarinet player, aren't you?" he answered his own question [with another question], winking at me. "All that extra lip and tongue action you develop from playing the clarinet comes in handy for other things, too, you know . . . but I'm sure you already knew that. . . And those thing can help you advance in the pageant world, too, if you use them right, but I'm sure you already knew that, too." Again, he winked at me.
"Shut the hell up before you get yourself in even more trouble than you're already in," the anesthesiologist demanded.
"I'll begin taking my orders from anesthesiologists just as soon as anyone comes up with the slightest evidence that any of you are one whit smarter than trained monkeys," the surgeon answered.
For the record, I've always considered my looks to be average at best on a good day. This stems largely from the way I was raised. My parents wanted me to look inward for more important qualities than external beauty. In retrospect, they now realize that with the best intentions, they probably erred too far in the direction of de-emphasizing what to me should have been be the importance of my physical appearance, and now are constantly trying to build my self-esteem in regard to my looks. Each time I see either of my parents, they give me compliments regarding how pretty I look. It's all water under the bridge now, but the bottom line is that I certainly didn't need to hear from Dr. Lead Surgeon that I'm walking around harboring highly inflated views of the stunningness of my physical beauty.
Dr. Lead Surgeon's comments caused me to stare up at the ceiling momentarily. I'd never tried to hide the role of chemicals in my blondeness. I had been blonde as a child, but childhood blondeness rarely holds, and I frequently joked about the effort required in maintaining the hair shade of my youth, though not with the lead surgeon, as I'd never before had as much as a conversation concerning the weather with him. I'm not sure what he saw of my face under the mask and goggles, particularly as I was making every effort to offer as little visibility as possible to him. "You look quite a bit like that little girl who got raped [sic; there was some evidence if penetration with a paint brush, possibly after the fact in order to disguise the event as a sexual assault gone to far. but the attack was not clear-cut rape] in Colorado. What was her name? Help me out here, somebody." No one helped him with filling in the missing details of Jonbenet Ramsey's name, instead mostly staring icily at him.
Tears could be seen through the lenses of the surgical resident's protective eye wear as she continued suturing. Though nothing had been directed at her and, up to that point, she hadn't been part of any conversation in the O.R., the depths to which the discourse had sunk were clearly distressing to her. "Is this all really necessary?" she finally chimed in as she made the knot on the final suture. "I'm not comfortable with any level of sexual harassment in the workplace, and what we're all witnessing here is far from the minimal distinction of sexual harassment. It's all the worse for me as her direct supervisor in the O.R. at this time. I can't let this go."
"So you're letting yourself sink to the level of the workplace snitch?" the lead surgeon sneered at the chief surgical resident. "Congratulations, and good luck in securing any recommendations from anyone around here," he added.
"I assume she has the recommendation of everyone here," countered the anesthesiologist.
"And everyone up here, too," chimed in the voice of God from the intercom providing sound from the viewing area.
The patient, blessedly unaware of the degree to which the quality of her surgical care was compromised by the pathetic display in the O.R. was moved to a recovery area.
Personnel exited the O.R. and removed protective gear. The anesthesiologist voiced his desire to kick the lead surgeon's ass (his words, not mine). He indicated that he would refrain from acting on his desire this time as he didn't need the formal reprimand that would result no matter how deserving the lead surgeon was, but that if anything like it happened again, anyone who handed out a reprimand could take it directly to hell.
Then the lead surgeon turned to me, pointed his right index finger at me and said and said, his voice growing higher in both pitch and volume with each proceeding word, "You! Yes, you . . . in addition to being an unprofessional little bitch with shit for brains, are a first-rate trouble-maker who has a chest measurement that would embarrass a thirteen-year old girl with any self-respect."
The anesthesiologist doubled his fist. A male RN who probably weighed two-hundred seventy-five pounds stepped between them. Security was called.
I moved on to the women's locker room, to where the chief resident had already retreated. She was seated on a bench in front of her locker, and she was silently crying. one of the nurses was patting her shoulder. Both of them turned to me. "You handled that really well," the rN said. "You know that none of that was your fault, right?" she asked.
"I assumed. . ." I answered.
"Lisa, the O.R. tech walked in. "Have you ever even worked with him before?" she asked me.
"No, " i responded. "I've never even met the guy. I couldn't figure out where it was coming from."
Another RN walked in and started to ask me something, but I quickly excused myself and bolted toward a stall. Once inside, I opened my mouth and allowed the comments of my stomach to escape with a level of force that surely would have impressed the member of The Exorcist's special effects crew who were charged with coming up with Linda Blair's infamous barfing scene.
The surgeon in charge of clerkship surgical rotations drove me to my apartment in my car as someone else followed her in her own car in order to drive her back to the hospital.
I thought the incident was over as far as I was concerned, but I ended up with hours of meetings and physical and psychological examinations the next day. All's well that ends well, though, at least for me, anyway. I've been given a free week to recover from my cold and from the effects of abuse-induced stress, of which, to be perfectly honest, is not all that much. When we're all telling stories of our med school experiences someday, hardly anyone will be able to say much of anything to top the story of my day in the O.R. with the surgeon who is almost certainly the single greatest asshole ever to wield a scalpel.