Thursday, May 24, 2018

I'm Going to Give You something to Think About! YEOWW

I stumbled upon this old image and it made my knees feel weak and my knuckles throb. It's a spitting image of my old time OR supervisor, Alice, who could wield a sponge stick with all the force of a burly cop swinging a billy club. This photo shows her assessing the severity of the infraction which will determine the location of the fulcrum to swing her weapon sponge stick from when it impacts the knuckles of her hapless victim. Swinging the sponge stick from the distal tip would inflict the most pain.

It looks like she is about to wail away with the fulcrum in mid position near the instrument's hinge. This was for relatively minor offenses  like passing an instrument to a resident rather than the attending surgeon, even though the resident was in the proper position to deal with the problem. Rules were rules-always provide the attending surgeon first.

The most brutal knuckle cracks were for any offense, real or imagined. that broke aseptic technique. Alice was an equal opportunity knuckle basher and residents were fodder for her cruel ministrations as well as nurses. She caught a young resident with his nostrils protruding over his mask and he received a double punishment, Cracked knuckles and a set of dental rolls plugging his nose. I think there might be an old post about that Aliceism somewhere amidst my foolishness.


  1. I'm wondering if Alice was a product of Catholic grade schools where this practice has it's roots. Nuns were very fond of knuckle striking punishments.

  2. Ouch and I thought your Miss Bruiser sounded bad!
    Interesting that nowadays Alice would no doubt be facing bullying charges and so would her employer! Sue

  3. At this particular hospital most all the nurses including Alice were some permutation of the Protestant faith. Most of the surgeons happened to be Jewish. I guess you could say Alice was an ecumenical knuckle basher.

    Operating rooms were fertile grounds for the cultivation of bad behaviors that would not be tolerated today. Hostile workplaces bred nasty behaviors. Surgeons raged and threw instruments; whenever anyone bent over to adjust a foot pedal under the table their scrub pants would be "adjusted," regardless of gender. Today it would be seen as sexual harassment, but it was meant as a way to help break some of the tension. We were like one big dysfunctional family and were the best of friends when the case was over. On my very last day as a scrub nurse, I was attacked by a trio of women who managed to completely cut my scrub top off with straight Mayos ( we did not call them trauma shears back in the day.) They were beginning to work on my scrub pants before I was able to high tail it into the men's locker room only to face a group of surgeons laughing like hyenas. Those were the days!

  4. There was an orthopaedic surgeon at our hospital who was so nasty in the OR he had to have his own scrub nurses - before I trained there apparently the OR nurses had en masse refused to work with him so he must have been incredibly bad.

    I can understand the stress might result in the high jinks behaviour you describe - in the years I worked in Pysch we had some very wild parties (outside work hours), but looking back I'm now not sure how much of this was due to the stress of daily dealing with the mentally ill and how much was due to pathology among the psychiatrists/psych nurses! Maybe both... S.

  5. And that sounds like some last day you had!!!

    Thinking about it, the behaviour you describe does sound rather worryingly like the behaviour in our Psych Unit - it was a separate building located within the grounds of the general hospital. The term "dysfunctional family" would probably fit us pretty well. In fact now you've got me thinking about it, it's probably worrying what the behaviour we got up to at times would sound like if I wrote it down! I do remember one Registrar locking himself inside his office on the ward and refusing to come out to sit a viva exam. The medical director tried to force him out by going outside and directing the garden hoses onto his office but he shut the windows, so then the MD tried smoking him out by setting fire to bits of paper and pushing them under the door ... unfortunately of course this set off the fire alarms and the next thing we had several fire engines and firemen in full mufti descend upon the hospital ... and they sure as heck weren't happy.

    It was very difficult to explain to them how this had happened...

    As you say OFRN, those were the days indeed! Cheers, Sue!