Saturday, December 29, 2018

The Most Popular Post of 2018

For the life of me, I can never predict which one of my foolish posts makes for a good read. I tend to favor outright goofiness and venturesome tales that lend themselves to entertainment purposes. Imagine my surprise when a dull, uninspiring fact laden account of the disappearance of genuine glass IV bottles was the most viewed post. Go figure! I got that last bit of lingo from listening to whippesnapperns. Who says you can't teach an Oldfoolrn  new tricks

One of my favorite posts received less than 10% of my boorish IV bottle post. Operating room  nurses tended to have somewhat of a twisted sense of humor. I guess it went with the territory. It was all business in the midst of a case but at the end of the day buffoonery showed it's prankish  face. Arguments are for the surgeons so nurses had special little ways of settling disputes. One of my favorites forms of arbitration was the ring stand race. This contest was used to determine clean-up duties and delegate unpleasant duties like clearing out floor drains or troubleshooting clogged suction machines. Maybe I favored ring stand races because I could slither myself through that hooped demon with as much speed as poop flows through a goose. Here's the link in one of my cheesy attempts to solicit readers.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Is Surgery A Spectator Sport?

Observers in a sanctioned overhead viewing site 
advancing their surgical acumen. Serendipitous 
snoopers were another story.
Vintage hospitals went to great lengths to provide surgeon and/or nurse wannabes the opportunity to observe surgeries. European hospitals even referred to their operating rooms as "theaters."  I once worked with a charming British surgeon that affectionately  referred to  us "theater nurses." This soft spoken man actually  thanked  us personally after a case was finished even if our performance was not up to snuff.  A different breed of surgeon compared to his American colleagues.

Surgical spectators were all different and the most interesting  involved the serendipitous observer who happened to be in the right wrong place at the time of the surgical experience.  Don't get me started on those whippersnapperrns who freely use that confounded "experience" word to describe a planned operative  anatomical alteration, but I figure if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?

The operating rooms where I toiled were on the very top floor of the hospital and offered a beautiful view of Lake Michigan which was 8 blocks due East. Large picture windows offered surgeons and nurses the opportunity to feast their  weary eyeballs on a  tranquil visual treat of sailboats and sparkling blue water far off in the distance. A welcome reprieve from eyeball stinging Bovie smoke and squnting to thread fine needles with 8-0 white silk while a surgeon hollered at you in the background for being too slow for his speedy needle plunges.

Everything was fine and dandy until the esteemed members of the hospital board decided to erect a high rise employee housing palace  next to the hospital. Nurses were agitated because these were luxury apartments and unaffordable for all but the most privleged office sitters. We were stuck in our 3rd floor walk ups where heat was a rarity even on the coldest winter nights.

Various members of Chicago's building trades toiled on the construction crews erecting this palace for the medical center moguls. They were a cast of colorful characters to say the least. Ironworkers in particular were a flamboyant, in your face sort of personality. I think it had something to do with their performing hazardous work at elevations where one false move meant falling many stories to a colorful  death.

As the building began to rise, we eagerly watched the progress while standing at the scrub sink which was probably less than 50 feet away from the ascending steel I-beams. You  could hear the ironworkers incessant babble before you could see them.   We joked with the surgeons that the ironworkers must be afficionados of expensive German automobiles just like them because they bantered constantly about "beamers" while guiding the gigantic steel beams into place.

The merriment came to an abrupt halt when the ironworkers ascended to the level of the operating room windows. This rag tag bunch of haggard workers acted as though they found a visual paradise. They glared and made contorted expressions as they avidly observed the goings on in the operating rooms. If they found the proceedings in one room not to their liking a short stroll along the steel beam provided a different procedure to observe. Legitimate surgical observers were limited to viewing the proceedings in just one room while the ironworkers enjoyed a virtual cafeteria of surgical sightseeing.

Their ringleader with his distinctive orange striped  hardhat led his merry men along a steel beam parallel to the OR windows until they found a procedure to their liking. The cysto room was the least popular after a worker nearly stumbled off a beam while observing a meatotomy. That procedure shivered my timbers too, so I could empathize with their revulsion.

The most popular room for these happenstance journeymen observers was the orthopedic room. A hammer is a hammer whether the one doing the hammering is a surgeon or an ironworker. The orthopedic surgeons were kept busy reducing and stabilizing bones just as the tradesmen were with steel beams. Both used lag screws and plates in their work. A brotherhood of sorts was established.

The surgeons took little notice of these nosey nitwits, but nurses thought the activities bordered on voyeurism and should be halted. Plan "A" was to scare them off. Sponge racks were crude, nasty looking devices ostensibly designed to facilitate counts, but really served to provide the surgeon of a visual reminder of blood loss. These morbid contraptions were wheeled, so positioning loaded sponge racks dripping with blood  in front of the windows worked to frighten off the men of steel. Some nurses took to displaying suction bottles full of blood on the window sills, but gradually the men of steel acclimated to our repulsive displays.

Alice, our beloved supervisor came up with the ultimate solution to the problem. Being an ultimate Killjoy, she used autoclave tape to suspend surgical drapes over the windows. some problems work themselves out with benign neglect. The observation opportunity ended with our move to the new operating rooms in the Stone Pavilion. Windowless operating rooms were very popular in the mid 1970s and put an abrupt halt to all the fun.