Thursday, January 13, 2005

Operating Room, Peristalsis & Agony

Today was my operating room experience. Every member of the surgical team conformed to (stereo)type: the surgeon was abusive and short-tempered, the nurse was meek and bumbling and the anaesthesiologist seemed clinically depressed. I just tried desperately not to get in the way (and therefore conformed to the nursing student stereotype).

I saw two GI surgeries where the surgeon wasn't sure what he would find i.e. cancer or no cancer. Luckily, both patients had noncanerous tumors. One tumor was a lipoma (fat tumor); I went with the pathologist to cut open the tumor the surgeon resected from the patient's duodenum (the middle portion of your small intestines) and, sure enough, it was filled with fat. It was exciting, though, cutting the thing open because the pathologists really had no idea what they'd find. Surprises every day in the pathology department!

The neatest thing I saw during the surgery was peristalsis. Peristalsis is what your small intestines are doing right now: regular, muscular waves that crunch the mashed-up food in your intestines and move it down towards your colon. The motion almost reminded me of a lava lamp: v. transfixing.

Seeing another surgery makes me desperately want to avoid ever being on the table myself. I'd also like to avoid ever working in an operating room: people are on their feet all day. One of the surgeons was in his mid 30s and had massive vericose veins around his ankles; presumably from standing so much. I was on my feet for 6 hours without a break and it's not really becoming for a nursing student to do squate or stretch or move about during a surgery so I had to stand stock still for all of this time. I was almost crying from the pain in my back towards the end.

Agony. Of course, I'm not the one waking up with a 10" abdominal incision.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

that is awesome; i thought peristalsis was something only the esophagus did. it's got a weird 'bootstrapping' feeling to it, like the motion of a snake, where seemingly from nothing something moves amazingly.

maybe in 20X6 they'll have little hovercraft bum-cushions for your guys to use to fly around the hospital so you don't have to stand all day.

4:36 PM  
Blogger Jodie said...

Actually, most of the OR nurses I know are spitfires -- strong women who can keep the surgeon in his place. The meek ones don't tend to stay very long.

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