Barb to the Back

Saturday, June 25, 2016

surgery, barb removal, crazy things, 2am emergency surgery
“We are *all* we are, and all in a sense we care to dream we are. And for that matter, anything outlandish, bizarre, is a godsend in this rather stodgy life. It is after all just what the old boy said – it's only the impossible that's credible; whatever credible may mean...” 
― Walter de la MareThe Return




The world of medicine has allowed me to experience the world through various facets of life. ON a daily basis, I interact with the young in age and the young at heart; delinquents and the elite and then there are those who walk on the wild side of life.

On my last call, lying in the trauma bay was a man who had been "stabbed" by a stingray that he was trying to spear. In its attempts to escape the ray stabbed him in the back which led to part of its barb remaining lodged in the lower part of the man's back. Throughout the course of booking an operating theatre (OT) and clearing the necessary requirements, it wasn't until 2 a.m. that he was finally able to be wheeled in to the OT.

After assisting with the insertion of a chest tube in a gun shot wound victim, I ran to the OT trying to get ready to scrub in on the procedure of the removal of the barb. The surgical area was neat and clean and there was no one in sight. I took off my white coat, grabbed a hair net and surgical mask and looked frantically around the area to which I had access for the foot covers-there was NONE in site or in any of the dispensers.

I made my way to the doctor's lounge and changing rooms and knocked hoping someone would be able to assist me with locating 2 foot covers. Unfortunately no one answered. So, stupidly, I made my way to the OT. I passed two, and as I saw surgeons and scrub nurses all fixated on their procedure,  it automatically became clear why no one was able to assist me earlier.

I approached OT 3, waved my hand in front of the monitor and the doors opened. I signaled to one of the surgical nurses to assist me with finding foot covers and after doing so I finally realized the error of my ways. One by one, they each turned around and looked at me in disgust, disbelief and anger.

Away they all went. "Are those outside shoes you're wearing?" "Where are your foot covers?" "Why are you here without them?" "Oh my Lord! are you serious?" "You should have asked someone in front to find them for you? Why don't you just walk into the OT just as you are? You're already this far?"

The tongue lashing went on and on and no matter how hard I tried to tell them that no one was out front to assist and that I didn't have access to the changing area, they did not care to listen or help. I allowed the doors to close, said good-bye to probably my once in a lifetime experience to see such a surgery performed and "hauled tail" out of the OT.

This week was not my best week in Surgery. It did open my eyes a little bit to the double standards that exist as it relates to the proper practice of surgical attire-I'm sure you've been in a hospital and witnessed surgical staff walking throughout the hospital in foot covers and heading right back into the OT without even changing them.  Needless to say, I won't be stepping foot into an OT without proper attire and I'll definitely be stepping my game up as the rotation advances.



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