Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Election Day 1972

Richard Nixon appeared on the political landscape in a very stormy time. There was the Vietnam war, looming inflation, and as always, unemployment. There were many divisive issues lurking about and people were really involved in the various arguments that were flying about. Reminds me of our current situation.

I remember walking to work on election day in the dark, long before polling places opened. In Chicago, voting always had a kind of underhanded, cynical theme attached to it. One of the favorite half true and half funny jokes was "Don't forget to vote early and often."

I remember thinking how great it would be to relieved of all this political mayhem when I finally arrived at my destination, the tiled temples of the operating rooms which were safely isolated all the way up on the very top 7th floor of the hospital far removed from toxic political themes below. Everything that I ever needed was here and the nonsense and noise of the world seemed pleasantly removed from my consciousness. Peace at last.

My co-workers were like family. Yes, we were at times, a dysfunctional lot when it came to interpersonal relationships, but we would all do just about anything for a patient or a colleague. Everything from donating blood for a trauma or playfully pinching one another with a sponge ring forceps if they made the mistake of bending over to reach something under the table while too close to the kick basin. From personal experience, I can say that really does hurt depending upon the mood of the person handling the forceps. The only way to avoid the unpleasantness of the sponge ring forceps encounter was to lean under the table by bending laterally rather from the waist at a right angle. It might have looked unusual, but it was very purposeful.

This was back in the day before seasonal affective disorder caused by increased darkness was recognized, but I really did love those bright, OR lights. They did generate lots of heat which contributed to their comfort inducing quality on cold winter election days. I often thought that standing under those bright  lights  helping patients with people that cared about me was as good as a beach vacation, maybe even better.

Election day moved by very quickly and toward the end of the shift, Dr. Slambow asked for volunteers to help him with an after hours case. I jumped at the opportunity, not giving it a second thought. When the case closed at about 7PM, Dr. Slambow asked if any of us had voted and we all had the same answer, "No, we forgot all about it."

Dr. Slambow announced he neglected to vote too. We all were wise enough to keep our mouths shut. If Dr. Salmbow was ever questioned about civic duty, he launched into a lengthy, bitter diatribe regarding his experiences as a trauma surgeon during the Battle of the Bulge during WWII. The stories were not pretty.

After the fallout from the present day political shenanigans, I often long for a warm, very brightly lit, green ceramic tiled ceramic oasis where there is no name calling or wall building. It sure was peaceful. I'm pleased my long term memory is intact to relive those days, now if I could only recall what I had for supper!

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