Friday, August 22, 2008


One day in kindergarten, a bunch of us crazy kids were playing hide and seek in the playground. I was "it" and was sitting against a rock wall, eyes squeezed shut, counting to 10 or 20 as loud as I could. All of a sudden, I feel something wet against my cheek. I open my eyes, and this girl Jill is inches away from my face, smiling and giggling. Just behind her are three other giggling girls. One of them yells out, "She did it! She kissed him!" Then they took off running. I could have died.

Really. I could have died. I'm not being dramatic here. I had not had my cootie shots that day, and they probably knew it. I was pissed. I got up and ran after the little *&^%#. Obviously, since I'm sitting her typing this, I caught her and did whatever I was supposed to do to reverse the cooties. If you don't get the seriousness of what I'm talking about here, google it.

I was reminded of this near-death experience last week in the OR (that's "operating room" for those of you who don't watch ER or Gray's Anatomy). We each spent one day observing a surgery or two. I got to see a thyroidectomy on one patient and laproscopic surgery of the colon on another. The thyroidectomy, as a learning experience, was pretty boring, and I couldn't see much. I did enjoy spending time with the surgical team and watching how they worked together. They listened to eighties rock and pop and made jokes. They were trying out a disposable scalpel, which generated a nice little conversation about the ridiculous amount of landfill generated in hospitals. It really is insane. I wrote a paper on it last term, which I recycled.

The laproscopy was pretty cool, both from a medical and technological perspective. The patient had an obstructed bowel, so they went in through the stomach to explore. They made three holes, one for the camera and two for surgical instruments. The doctor and surgical tech looked around for a while, and then started cutting away the adhesions, fatty tissue that was "sticking" the colon to the peritoneum (the cavity in which many digestive organs call home). The technician operated the camera and the doctor operated the pinchers and clippers. It was amazing how they worked so smoothly together, a dance of sorts.

The OR nurses were very welcoming, and it was great to see them in action. One reason why we were given this opportunity was to think about being an OR nurse in the future. Action for an OR nurse seems to be making sure that everything runs smoothly, which is much trickier than it looks on TV because of this thing called the sterile field. Sterile means no contaminents like bacteria, nasal hair, or cookie crumbs. The center of the sterile field is the patient, specifically where the operation is taking place on their body. The field then extends out across their entire body, then to the surgeon and the surgical technician. The surgeon and technician go through elaborate cleanup before the surgery to become sterile, and part of the OR nurses job is to help them stay sterile by being the interface to the non-sterile world. The surgeon and technician keep their hands above their waist to maintain this sterile field. They cannot touch anything outside of this field, so you see them inching past each other's backs (which are not sterile) as well as equipment and furniture, looking like an alarm might go off if they touch anything. It's extremely important that they don't, as there is the very real possibility of the patient's wound becoming infected, which in worse cases, can cause death.

Kind of like cooties. And the OR nurse is the cootie police. I don't think it's for me.

Last year I started watching the show ER on Netflix. It was the perfect break while studying for my prereqs such as anatomy and physiology. When nursing school started, I took a break from the show. Last week I started watching the show again and it was a completely different experience. I understood pretty much everything they talked about! It was a surprising barometer for how much we've learned in school and at the hospital. And it's only been three months!

I'm thinking that by the end of the program I'll be able to audition for the show. Or maybe House, MD. Or maybe even that new reality show, America's Hottest Nurses.

Who's going with me?


1 comment:

  1. The description of the circulator as an "interface" to the sterile field is one of the best descriptions I've ever heard, and I've been part of the cootie police for a while. It sounds like you're going to be a very caring and committed nurse- glad to hear you like it!


Tell me what you think. Talk to the Macho Nurse!