Thursday, March 10, 2016

A Dozen Roses and a D&C

The long awaited opening of our brand new operating room suite in the Rich Old Insurance Dude
Pavillion  was about to open. We had taken advantage of the holiday season, which was typically a time of markedly reduced case load to move our old equipment into our new digs. About the only thing left behind were our old Bovies that resembled Maytags. Our fancy new electronic Bovies looked like toys in comparison and did little to inspire confidence in older nurses.

 I used to wonder why the patients were so cooperative about not needing surgery while the docs took time off, but I never was able to solve that riddle.

One of my favorite co workers, Nancy, happened to be scheduled with me  on a January, Saturday AM in 1974  to open the new suite. We were not expecting any cases and had planned to organize and put away endless boxes of suture material. We did do  a few dress rehearsals and were ready to go if we received a case. The old operating rooms with their beautiful terrazzo floors and green tiled walls were gone for good. The tiled temples were closed.

Nancy was always in a jovial, bubbly mood regardless of the situation which often contrasted with what was going on in the OR. I remember her almost inappropriate cheerful banter at the close of a failed trauma case. "OK it's time to draw straws to see who gets to take care of the body," she chimed in while holding 2 lengths of discarded 00 silk suture material in her hand. It was always nice to work with someone in a good mood, even though at times it didn't feel quite right.

At about 11AM we received a phone call from the ER that we were getting a case. Nancy was delighted and excited that we were going to be the very first 2 nurses to do a case in the brand new pavilion OR. "Maybe they will construct a statue to honor the first 2 nurses to do a case in the new pavilion." I muttered something under my breath and began to hurriedly set up the new room. To mollify Nancy I quickly constructed a paper certificate on the back of an operative report form that stated. "NANCY AND FOOL WERE THE FIRST NURSES TO DO A CASE IN THIS O.R SUITE."

I quickly attached my paper plaque to the entry door using some good old J&J adhesive dressing tape. Everything was ready to go with the room so I strolled out to the prep and hold area to greet our patient.

As the litter approached, the first thing I noticed was how tiny and child-like the patient appeared. It was a terrified, trembling  16 year old girl that was having painful uterine bleeding. I reassured her that we would take good care of her and I also added, "I'll stay with you until you are asleep." This seemed to reassure her a bit.

Just as we got past the scrub sinks, Nancy jumped out from behind the door and hollered, "Congratulations, you are our first patient!" and with that, plopped down a dozen red roses in her arms. Unbeknownst to me, Nancy had slithered away to the gift shop to obtain the roses while I was fetching our patient.

I will never forget the look in the young patient's eyes. I have never seen someone experience so many different emotions in a brief moment. She went from terrified, shocked, amused, and totally bewildered in a matter of seconds. I was speechless for a moment and then told the patient that we would leave the roses on the cart until she woke up. I held her soaking wet, trembling hand until she was anesthetized and was greatly relieved when the case was underway. To this day I can see that young girl's face and it's really haunting. Her face was a veritable cafeteria of emotions. I was relieved when everything went well with her case and she was fine.

When Dr. Repulso, the surgeon saw my paper plaque on the door, he asked "Why did you leave my name off ?, I am the first surgeon to do a case here."  I quickly scribbled a plaque for Dr. Repulso and taped it above our plaque. The surgeon always was the captain of the ship. When Alice, the supervisor came in on Monday she ripped my plaques down so our glory was short-lived. It was nice while it lasted and I will never forget our very first patient.

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