One of the more unsettling experiences of my surgical career to date; and I didn’t think it could get any worse than stumbling through an erroneous CT scan reading during M&M:

I was doing a laparoscopic case (which is enough of an oddity in itself: the number of cases I’m getting this week would be going to my head, if I weren’t so overwhelmed with work outside of the OR that even these longed-for operations seem like a burden). First, one of the most senior attendings in the program wandered in, before we were even prepping, and started quizzing me about what was wrong with the patient, and why I thought so.

Then, after we got started, yet another attending came in; so I had three attendings watching me struggle through a laparoscopic case I had never done before. Of course they had a few helpful pieces of advice each, as well as the attending who was actually scrubbed on the case. Helpful comments like, Why don’t you just flip that piece of bowel over there, you would see so much better; go on, flip it over. (Yes, sir, I would be perfectly happy to, but I can’t seem to make the grasper go there. . . ) Almost more disturbing than them commenting, however, was them just watching. I couldn’t figure out what they found so fascinating. The case itself I didn’t think was that remarkable. It was new to me, but by no means new to the annals of surgery. And they certainly weren’t watching for the pleasure of admiring smooth technique. I thought it was painfully slow going, and I was the one doing it, which means it must have seemed glacially slow and awkward to everyone else. I got the impression they were waiting to see when I was going to tear the bowel. . . I almost respect their restraint in not saying so out loud. . .

On the other hand, that gave it a particularly triumphant feeling when I finally had all the pieces straightened out, and the problem was fixed, and I had done it nearly all myself.