Friday, June 7, 2019

A Shout Out To My Russian Readers

I've been delighted by a sudden increase in pageviews from readers in Russia. It boggles what's left of my foolish mind to realize that I can reach folks so far away from the basement of my humble little hovel. Maybe it's therapeutic to put my reclusiveness on the back burner and extend my foolishness to others.

I had the wonderful experience of working with a Russian educated surgeon - one of the perks of working at a big city academic hospital. I admired how she used her newly acquired English language skills. None of that subject, verb, predicate rigamarole that was drilled into us during high school English class. Direct, no nonsense commands were the order of the day. One of my favorites was, "Fix him to the bed," which meant limit the patient's mobility with a restraining device. "Scissors," became "scissor" because there was only one scissors used at a time. Russian English really made sense and got the point across.

Dr. Ospov, had a couple of unique surgical customs. She loved using long handled needle drivers and forceps. Muscle memory is a powerful force and once acclimated to a long surgical instrument, it's tough to change. Long instruments always amplified any fine tremor present in my lunch hooks fingers so I regarded them with caution. If you want to see an angry surgeon, just try to slip a smaller length needle driver into the mix. Don't fool with muscle memory.

I'm not certain that its a wide spread custom in Russia to eschew prophylactic surgical drains, but Dr. Ospov hated them. Her tight closure of tissues eliminated dead space and  minimized the need for drains. She also liked to throw in a couple of half hitches at the end of suture lines to help maintain the integrity of the closure which seemed like a good idea to me.

I vividly recall one scene that illustrates her no nonsense, get it done approach. We were called to a ward because a patient toppled out of his wheelchair sustaining a nasty occipital skull laceration. When we arrived on the ward, the patient was sprawled out on the floor next to a festive looking Christmas tree. As I prepared to transfer the patient back to the ward for suturing, Dr. Ospov barked, "Grab me a suture set and get down here to help me." The patient was positioned on the floor with his Bye Bye decubiti pad comfortably under his wounded head. I knelt down next to the good doctor as she deftly threw a half dozen sutures in the wound. It was quite a scene with the red blood and green Christmas tree in the background. She really knew how to get things done without a fuss.


  1. How wonderful to have readers from Russia! It would be great to have some stories from them. I've always wanted to visit St Petersburg. Your Russian doctor was probably correct about scissor/scissors OFRN - English is ridiculous at times! Sue

  2. Sue,
    I doubt most Russians have much tolerance for fools, but I'm glad they are making an exception for my foolishness.