I went into the OR at 7:30, and the next thing I knew it was 3pm. I had no idea the cases were taking that long. I’m sure to the medical students, watching and doing nothing, every minute crawled, but I feel as though the day disappeared. This is truly “living the dream.” Who cares how late I finally got out of the hospital?

I got to assist with a laparoscopic procedure today. This time I ended up trying to move an instrument “against the camera,” which means that rather than the camera looking straight forward, and you trying to move your instrument forward, you find yourself moving the instrument towards the camera’s “face,” so that in addition to the usual disorientation of doing something with your hands while looking in a different direction, you have the added difficulty of trying to carry out a precise activity in mirror image. Fortunately there was some time to spare, so I was allowed to move slowly and just get the feel of the instruments.

I also had time to reflect again on a fact which has fascinated me since med school. Surgeons are obsessed with light. The OR is filled with wall-to-wall overhead fluorescent lights, making it the best lit room you will ever see anywhere. Then we insist on adding these overhead, moveable lights, which are blindingly bright, if you look straight at them. Then, for difficult cases, the attending will often wear a headlamp, which focuses a beam of pure white light right at the spot they’re looking at. But if the attending moves to look at something different, the resident feels as if there’s no light at all; or if one of the moveable lamps isn’t quite as bright as usual, we can’t stop complaining about it for the whole case. When the entire room is already as bright as the Sahara at noon.

I do this at home, too. In my mother’s kitchen, I feel like I can’t wash dishes unless every light in the kitchen is on. In my apartment, one of the first things I did, before acquiring a kitchen table (still haven’t gotten to that one) or furniture to sit on, I bought lamps for every corner. I can’t read unless they’re all on.

Various aspects of this particular service are starting to drive my fellow residents crazy. In a vague way, I agree that it’s annoying. But I am so thrilled to be around the OR – scrubbing in on an almost daily basis – that I really don’t care. This is the best month of the year, and I’m determined to stay grateful, remembering how frustrated I was last month.

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