Give me enough of these and a
place to stack them and you will
need a pilot's license AND a nursing
license the next time you are scrubbed
For the height compromised scrub nurse I could construct an elevated platform extending from her Mayo stand all the way to the back table using standard, readily available platforms which were supplied in every room. If more than the alloted 6 platforms were required, I would be off on a scouting mission to an adjoining OR to
For the really short scrub nurses I devised a custom built platform that got pint sized nurses high in the sky. I removed the horizontal metal pan from a non functioning litter. This piece of steel was the perfect length reaching from the midget scrub nurse's Mayo stand all the way to the back table. From either end I elevated the litter bed on ordinary platforms. This Rube Goldberg height enhancer even had a built in safety feature. I left one of the siderails functioning and it served as a safety fence to prevent the miniature scrub nurse from falling backwards off the platform. It worked like a charm and my short colleagues just loved it.
For a couple of weeks all went well with my jury rigged scrub nurse elevation platform. Short nurses were clamoring to climb aboard and they even claimed the surgeons were better behaved and yelled less when they towered above them. It's much more difficult to badger and berate someone who is taller than you. When my ever present supervisor, Alice, learned about my custom elevation device, she went ballistic, "What's this ridiculous hodge-podge of components? Dismantle that abomination immediately." That was the end of that. It was fun while it lasted and gave the vertically challenged nurse a new perspective. Alice always got her way.
If you think my litter elevation contraption was unsafe, note the photo on the left. Using anesthesia stools as the person on the far left is doing invites mishaps. Anesthesia stools are height adjustable by rotating the seating platform. Spinning round and round while sitting might be fun, but not while standing. These anesthesia stools used as elevation devices are tuntables of death or serious bodily harm. Stay off of them.
Circus trapeze artists have safety nets, baseball players have warning tracks and elevated scrub nurses need a safety net too, especially while they are elevation novices. In time nurses learn they can only shuffle from side to side on elevation platforms. It usually takes one good fall to learn this valuable lesson. Here is an interim safety tip for platform elevation beginners. Strip the padded mattress from a litter and carefully place this behind your meticulously constructed platforms. We used to have bright red foam litter pads that worked perfectly. The bright red mat functioned just like the ball player's warning track and the foam silenced and cushioned a fall. I do not know any scrub nurse that fell off a platform more than once. To paraphrase Neil Armstong, "That's one small back step off the platform and one giant crash when you fall to the floor holding a heavy surgical instrument." Be careful out there when you are working high in the sky. That unpadded terrazzo floor is an unforgiving surface.
There was one type of neuro case that called for elevation for even the tallest of scrub nurses. Any craniotomy with the patient in a seated position called for special elevation tricks. In the early days we had a heavy duty Mayo stand that could be positioned about 5 1/2 feet in the air. Even the tall nurses needed platforms to work from this dizzying height. At about the time I was nearing retirement a specialty neuro instrument table was introduced.
This table was one piece and eliminated the separate back table and Mayo stand set up that I knew and loved. I always had to imagine a corner of this monster Phelan Neuro table as the Mayo stand to keep things orderly. If we were working with Methylene blue which was one of Dr. Oddo's favorite marking agents, I was in business. I physically drew a Mayo stand top outline on the oversize single table drape. It worked like a charm for me, but some of my co workers thought it was really a silly thing to do.
Another one of my signature tricks was to take my straight Mayo scissors and cut an intricate filigree design into the top of the wax paper bag that we tossed used suture scraps into. Dr. Oddo always said that it was going to be a tough case if he noticed a plain trash bag on my Mayo stand. "Uh Oh, somethings up.. oldfoolrn did not have time to decorate the suture bag," was his ususal reply. I never felt the artistic urge when dealing with late night or trauma cases so I just went with the plain old suture trash bag.
I'm starting to get off track again, so it must be time to wrap this up. I really do appreciate all of you who indulge in my foolishness and it amazes me how many of you read this in the middle of the night. Sometimes I fantasize about that phone ringing in the middle of the night to jump out of bed and scramble over to the hospital for a trauma case with Dr. Slambow. It really sounds like fun now that I cannot clearly recall scrambling to set up instruments or feeling totally beat up by the late hour and gruesome trauma.