One of the medical staff stated this am that she had no idea what went on behind the closed doors in the Operating Room so I thought perhaps that should be the topic for today’s post. It had occurred to me a few times while operating here in Haiti that some things are more universal than language when it comes to life in the Operating Room.
The hardest part as it pertains to this trip is actually the inability to communicate with the patient. It’s so difficult to give them reassurance and let them know what we are going to do; i.e. monitors, medications, positioning. It happens occasionally at home when we have a patient that speaks no English so we are fairly proficient at some miming and pointing but it is not my prefered way to interact with my patients.
It speaks to the teamwork that is present in the Operating Room that we can pull together under those or any circumstances such as the ones that we are facing this week. We try very hard to be on the same wave length and that is accomplished with loads of communication. There are often random causal conversations going on but in the drop of a hat we can all hear, usually from the monitors or a tone of voice, that there are steps that need to occur. We recognize the difference between a true emergency and an item that requires attention when we next have a minute spare.
Part of that team work, from the nursing side, is the concentration that one channels during an operation. There are many subtle clues that allow us to anticipate what the surgeon will require during the operation. There are also the preplanning stage when the surgeon focuses on the larger picture and the nurse focuses on the minute details. This is how we achieve the level of success that the following statement demonstrates. Asked how our first case down here went the tall handsome surgeon replied “it was great” to which I choked on my drink. Judy, Edith and I had scrambled like monkeys in a tree trying to find things and pull together all the details. Add to that the french chart and it seemed like a crazy hour and a half. But we had pulled it together so much that the “front scene” seemed easy versus the “insider view” and sometimes the surgeon is negligent in recognizing how much we put into the overall picture. I can say that the surgeons on this trip have risen to the top of the cream pail.
I don’t want to forget our team work with the anaesthesiology team as they are an integral part of life in the Operating Room. When the shit hits the fan they are there with their brilliant minds directing traffic and ensuring that all the options are explored and action items ticked off.
So now you have the trade secrets of what life is like in the Operating Room. I haven’t given you all the details about how we interact with the patients, organize supplies and change over the rooms to name just a few items. There is loads of real work and it’s not all McDreamy time but there is a level of camaraderie amongst a theatre of OR personnel that is part dynamic force to be reckoned with versus the more relaxed “bonding” times.
Now this post was supposed to include a few other things like the level of appropriate touching but I’ve had to cut it short as we went back right after supper to do an open fracture of both feet. So it’s late, I’m tired and have had a long day fighting the shady character called traveller’s diarrhea (bet that was more info than you wanted) and added to the 16 hour work day it’s time to call it quits.