General Non-Fiction posted May 25, 2024

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Laughter in the OR

Medical Drama

by Esther Brown

Changed her mind:

An anxious patient was on the surgery table, had her IV in, her cardiac monitors in place and blood pressure cuff doing its thing. I stood at her side, holding the oxygen mask to her face as Dr K. turned to get his pentathol syringe.  Suddenly, she sat up, breaking free from her velcro arm board restraints. Pushing me away, she undid the BP cuff and leaped from the bed, yanking off the BP cuff, losing her surgical gown with it.  The IV bottle on the stand trailed her as far as the door, caught on the door and smashed. I grabbed the phone to warn the nursing staff a patient was streaking naked but she was already past them and in her room. 

Short snippets of cataract chuckles. 

This elderly gent was getting his cataracts fixed. His wife  told me: “Please speak loudly and clearly, he is very deaf. Also, he worries about being incontinent, so I put a urinal in place if he needs to pee”. I took her word for it, and wheeled him to surgery. I added a blanket (surgeries are always freezing), and gave him my usual speech while I positioned him for surgery. Meanwhile, wondering to myself how I can discreetly tell him the urinal is available. Shouting clearly I said: “OK, sir I want you to lift your head and put it in the piddle, then I will wash around the eye”. 

Cataract surgery in Oaxaca Mexico with northwest medical teams was memorable too. We each had a list of useful Spanish phrases we used as there were no interpreters. The young female doc I was working with was pretty and blonde, everyone loved her. Our last patient of the day was a handsome Hispanic man, quite taken with her. Dr. L. smiled welcome, patted the top of the surgery table saying: “Cerveza aqui”. 


I started working as a surgery nurse in the 70's and have many stories to tell. Many will have to be censored because you really don't want to know what happens behind the closed doors of the OR. I will add more if they come to mind.
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