There are certainly other scary things associated with hospitals related to blood and gore, but these are too obvious. Subtle little events can creep up on you. As a young scrub nurse, one thing used to really freak me out. It never seemed to bother anyone else so I never vocalized my feelings of being creeped out. I guess I did not want to be thought of as an insecure scrub nurse.
Here is what gave me nightmares. We are nearing the end of a trauma case that was going along smoothly, a walk in the park. We are getting ready to close and all I have left on my Mayo stand is a couple of needle drivers, scissors and a pair of pick-ups. The surgeon announces, "I think I would like to get a stat X-Ray just to make sure we removed all of the fragments." In marches the X-ray technician with the portable machine. He wrestles the X-ray plate into position underneath the drapes and announces "Everybody take cover I'm shooting an X-ray." The circulating nurse and anesthetist run out of the room and the scrubbed members of the team hustle over into the corner behind a lead curtain.
A horrified glance over toward the OR table reveals a person lying there ALL ALONE, not a soul in sight, with a big wound. There is a stray sponge stick protruding from the wound like a mini flag pole and the hot lights are reflecting of that steel self-retaining retractor. The mechanical ventilator left unattended by anesthesia is making that rhythmic, ominous whooshing noise. The unattended Yankauer suction gizmo is making a hissing noise like a venomous snake preparing to strike. This scene used to give me that sick feeling right in the heart of my solar plexus. It really spooked me. YIKES!
I think several things here got to me. The stark realization that this was a real person, someone's mother or father, and not just another trauma case. The vulnerability of the person lying there all alone was stark. There should be a team of people in frenzied activity taking care of this person. The loneliness and helplessness was overwhelming. Luckily this lasted only the few seconds it took to get the X-ray and normal activity resumed. I literally ran back to my Mayo stand and was usually the first person to emerge from behind that lead curtain when the X ray was done. That very brief spooky moment of the patient lying there on that table all alone is really burned into my memory. It still gives me the creeps!
Lacking much of an emotional IQ, I could never really figure why this always spooked me out, but it certainly did the trick. Maybe it was goal interference in that it separated me from what I thought I should do. A loss of control? I don't know.
Halloweens of yesteryear were always fairly