Things That Your Surgeon Shouldn't Be Thinking in Your Surgery

A female surgeon. I trust her face.

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Who are surgeons?

Terms associated with surgery are: “Under the Knife,” “Slicin’ and Dicin’,” and “Gutting,” and that one is from way before surgery, as well as medicine, evolved to a science.

It’s no longer about a slug of “Rot gut Whiskey,” getting the patient to bite-down on a piece of wood, and cutting like a crazed meat butcher to find the problem inside (a) human body. It’s a smooth, graceful choreography between surgeon and staff—no errors, but “never events,” (laymen’s terms: events that should never have happened), that tell us that surgeons, like medical doctors, are not gods, but fallible human beings.

Even songs were written about surgeons

Before the operation by Henri Gervix

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Ready for work

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My personal experience with a surgeon

“Never events,” and fallibility, notwithstanding, a lot of people are alive now thanks to the talents of a surgeon. I happen to be in that stat. In 2002, my appendix ruptured in the night sending laser rays of hot, shooting pain throughout my body. I thought I was, in the battle for my pride, tough cattle drover, “Rowdy Yates,” of the legendary television western: Rawhide. I was put on my butt, knees, and back in a matter of minutes and the dream of being tough as Clint Eastwood faded like a cheap engagement ring.

At 11 a.m. the next day I entered our local hospital’s ER and by 2:30 p.m. I was awakened in my room hooked up with wires, monitors, machines, and a huge pipe that resembled a radiator hose from a ’57 Chevy jammed down my throat.

I couldn’t talk. Couldn’t eat solid food. No water or liquids to drink, just ice chips. Uh, doc, what do you think ice in its original state really is? Water. Duhhh! I had to survive with the grace of God and patience of a good wife for ten days. Simply because I did not heed the signs, weeks ago, that my appendix was (in the process) of rupturing which I wrote-off as being signs of old age. The epilogue is: I was right about signs of old age.

Surgeons and their teams do delicate work

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A surgeon has to have 100% focus

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A surgeon is a valuable person in the field of medicine

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Surgeons: My feelings

I respect surgeons. I do not envy them in the least. Surgeons have to have nerves of steel, hands that don’t shake, and a head-full of years of compiled medical knowledge about “Everything Body,” a totally-focused mind and how to use instruments so sharp that they could split an eyelash in two pieces.

Thank God, I was, as the medical community says, “put to sleep,” with an assortment of “magical juices,” the anesthesiologist told me later. No miracle that I did not remember one detail of being “put under,” as these “Angels of Magic Mist,” call it. I thought later, as the gasses and liquids wore off that being “out like a light,” felt so good that I could make the argument for doing illegal drugs.

The thought of what my surgeon had on this mind never entered my thoughts until today, June 13, 2014, around 5 p.m., (CDST). And the moment this query surfaced, I almost broke-out into a cold sweat. This was the “real” reason that “I” never dreamed of doing surgery on people, a totally-focused mind. With my work background in the newspaper business, and now almost four years in “Hubville,” my mind is not focused, totally or otherwise. My thoughts race—seeking my next idea for a hub to publish on HubPages.

Which brings me to this though: I wonder if there are any full-time surgeons who dream of being writers who are among the masses of members of HubPages? I could be right.

So yes, I am very concerned about “Things That a Surgeon Shouldn't Be Thinking in Your Surgery,” is a cause for mild-alarm for me. Below is a compiled list of things that I pray are not a part of any surgeon’s thought processes.

Patients have to trust their surgeons

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A job well done, surgery team

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"Never Events," involving surgeons

A study out from Johns Hopkins Medicine this week includes some dramatic statistics about how frequently operations are marred by error. These aren't details that only a doctor could understand.

How bad is it? And how widespread? How about...

- Having a sponge or towel left in after surgery? (40 patients per week)
- Having a surgery performed on the wrong side of the body? (20 patients per week)
- Having the wrong operation altogether? (20 patients per week)

"The public scratches their head and say, come on, you've got to be kidding me about this," says Dr. Peter Pronovost, V.P. of Patient Safety at Johns Hopkins Medicine and co-author of the study. Even so, those numbers may underreport the risk of these "never events." The study used data from malpractice claims, but many instances of surgical error never get that far.

Patient safety advocates like Pronovost worry that there aren't adequate systems to watch for these kinds of errors. In the case of sponges, many operations require a great number of surgical instruments, increasing the risk that one may stay in the body.

"The way we keep track of whether we left [a sponge] in you, is simply counting what went in, and counting when they came out."

Pronovost says errors like these have always been a problem, and hospitals are working hard to fix them. He's concerned that cuts in payments to hospitals in the Affordable Care Act will put even more stress on medical professionals already working long hours.

"What health care hasn't done is use technology to improve productivity. It's largely relied on the heroism of doctors and nurses to keep safe, and now we're asking for even greater heroism," Pronovost says. "We really have to start saying, it's time for technology to start leading the way."

"What a Surgeon Shouldn't Be Thinking in Your Surgery"

  • “Just how many tequila shots did I really do last night at ‘Jim’s’ bachelor party?”
  • “Did I try to kiss some girl at ‘Jim’s’ bachelor party?”
  • “This guy I am operating on looks like the thug who stole my second girlfriend.”
  • “Wonder if the clerk at Ruby Falls got my reservation right for next week?”
  • “Did my new girlfriend say when I left this morning, bye, ‘Tom’? My name is ‘Gene.’”
  • “Just who is this ‘Tom’? Awww, she just made a mistake.”
  • “Wonder where that hot scrub nurse is this afternoon?”
  • “What’s that awful smell? It’s me! Lousy off-brand deodorant.”
  • “Will this operation really go past the kick-off of the Super Bowl?”
  • “Man, I could go for a sub-sandwich.”
  • “Hope my staff in here cannot tell that my stomach is growling.”
  • “I don’t believe this. I just accidentally passed gas. Those darn taco’s last night.”
  • “What if I were to disguise my voice? Would these nurses know the celebrity I am impersonating?”
  • “When this guy comes to, I am going to be standing over him with a burglar’s mask over my eyes.”
  • “I just realized that I have a weak stomach—look at this blood. Yuuukkk.”
  • “Oh no. I need to “Blow groceries.” “That stale doughnut on the way to work.”
  • “What if I faint and hit the operating room floor?”
  • “Wonder if anyone can hear me thinking?”
  • “There’s ‘Millie,’ the hot, single scrub nurse. Reckon she will massage my aching neck?”
  • “Reckon ‘Millie,” will be turned-on with my “Hawkeye” Pierce,” laugh?”
  • “Did I remember to wear my underwear under these scrubs?”
  • “Why is ‘Millie’ glaring at me over her mask? Oh my God! She was the girl I tried to kiss in the bar where we had ‘Jim’s’ bachelor party.”
  • “Why can’t I have a coffee break?” “I earned it with my four years of medical school.”
  • “Is this operation going to be enough for my BMW down-payment?”
  • “What are those two police officers doing outside the OR?”
  • “Why is ‘Millie,’ grinning like a circus clown on LSD?”

If any of you reading this “are” full-time surgeons and members of HubPages, I have this to say to you: “If you can write as well as you can operate, then you are “a cut above,” a lot of us.”

This female surgeon is not only pretty, but talented

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Comments 19 comments

JayeWisdom profile image

JayeWisdom 2 years ago from Deep South, USA

Kenny - Reading this made me realize that of the 19 surgeries I've had in my life, with not all the results what I'd call successful, the surgeon's frame of mind may have been a factor. I even wondered if the surgeon who was six hours late for the event while I waited nervously and very grouchy when he appeared perhaps had a hangover. I felt like getting up off the gurney and asking for my clothes! That's the only time I was 'put under' before I was taken into the operating room. I guess he thought I was going to leave.

Several of these procedures were performed without general anesthesia. Instead, I was given a local anesthetic that deadened the surgical area and Valium intravenously to make me relax. These times I got a pretty good idea of what really goes on in an operating room because I wasn't really asleep, just relaxed, and able to hear everything that went on.

One surgeon (actually, a very good one) liked to play country-western music while he operated--with the volume turned up pretty loud. He also sang along part of the time, but it didn't appear to bother his concentration on the job at hand. I don't really care for that music genre, but since he was the one holding the scapel, I kept my mouth shut and didn't complain.

During another surgery when I was awake but relaxed, I got very talkative (must have been the Valium). When the surgeon's assistant suggested that he also remove a mole in the region he was working near, he declined, and I decided to put my two cents worth in and vote for the mole removal. Two against one, right? Well, it didn't work that way. I heard him tell the anesthesiologist to 'give her more Valium' and I went to sleep. I suppose surgeons don't really want to hear from the patient during the operation.

Voted Up and Funny

Jaye


ESPeck1919 profile image

ESPeck1919 2 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

I've only had two surgeries, so far, and hopefully it'll stay that way. They were both procedures to remove my fully grown wisdom teeth. I was awake throughout the first one, and got to see what it felt like when anesthesia wore off halfway through. TMJ and migraines for four months straight after that one.

That would be why I switched dental offices and went to a different surgeon to be knocked out. As the anesthesiologist was getting my IV started, we talked about the local scandal at the time which had involved a nurse stealing pain medication.

I clearly remember saying, "Well, I'm sure you wou--"

Poof. Out like a light in the middle of a sentence.

Apparently, I imitated The Fonz when I started coming out of it.

Other than the horrible bruising and newly discovered antibiotic allergy, recovery had some amusing moments, too.

Anecdotes aside, I'd hope most surgeons don't have that inner monologue going, too! Very entertaining and informative, Kenneth.

When my husband had his knee surgery, the staff had him draw a circle on the knee that needed the attention, so at least they're taking some measures to get the side of the body correct.


Msmillar profile image

Msmillar 2 years ago from Valley Springs

I received a very odd message on my answering machine a couple of months ago. A woman said,"Call Bob at this number". (Bob's not his real name, just protecting the innocent) So, I call this number and a woman answers, "Hello, this is operating room #4 at (hospital name) general hospital". I was totally confused and replied intelligently, "Huh, what? Where?" She repeated, "You are talking to operating room #4 at (hospital name)". Still confused I said, "I received a message to call my friend Bob at this number." She says hold on. I hear her in the background saying, "Doctor Bob, Doctor, this call is for you". Then my friend Bob comes on the phone. He says, "I'm glad you got my message. Could you pick up a dozen eggs for me. I forgot to get them and it's important for a party." I said, "No problem, but where have I just called?" Bob replied, "Oh, yeah, the surgery room. I'm in the middle of open heart surgery when I remembered the eggs." I said, "Aren't you sort of busy for phone calls?" He said, "He doesn't mind. He's anesthetized." I hung up and went to the store and got his eggs.


sheilamyers 2 years ago

I haven't had to have any surgeries yet, but I hope if I ever do the surgeon is 100% concentrating on what he's doing.


cecileportilla profile image

cecileportilla 2 years ago from West Orange, New Jersey

You write very well kenneth. I really enjoyed your ideas on what a surgeon should not be thinking about during surgery. I once saw a new nurse faint during her orientation at the sight of blood. I can't imagine a surgeon having a similar experience.


JayeWisdom profile image

JayeWisdom 2 years ago from Deep South, USA

I came back for an additional comment about the "Nevers" sidebar. While I give credit to surgical staff the world over for using their skills to cure the sick and the long hours they work in doing so, I also have firsthand knowledge of 'foreign bodies' being left inside the actual body of a surgical patient.

In 1978 I shattered my ankle, which required surgery with pins to hold bones together and the wearing of a cast from my foot to over-the-knee for months. I wrote a hub about that experience...well, most of it. What I didn't mention was that two decades later I needed foot surgery for a painful bone spur. After performing that procedure, the surgeon (with my advance permission) opened a small incision on the ankle of that foot. He then removed the object that had worked its way from wherever it was left during the 1978 surgery to become a strange-looking lump beneath the skin of that ankle.

He later showed me this 'foreign object' (which was how he described it in his surgical notes). It looked like a short piece of braided nylon cord, the edges frayed from its long sojourn in my foot. Ugh!

One more vote for Interesting....

Jaye


PatriciaTL profile image

PatriciaTL 2 years ago from Lehigh Valley

You've made some scary but humorous conjectures here, Kenneth! I've had enough contact with hospitals- some good experiences and some that seem to have come from the annals of science fiction- that it doesn't take much to convince me that doctors are, unfortunately, human. I enjoyed reading this and look forward to reading more of your Hubs.


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 2 years ago

Awww, cut it out, Kenneth! You do pick the pretty ones, don’t you? Now most of the guys….

I just don’t buy it that the Affordable Care Act will put more stress on medical professionals. They are supposed to do their jobs and let the bean counters worry about money. One thing that might cause a problem is the laying off of nurses. Nurses, by the way, have a tendency to become writers – at least in the area where I live. I wonder how many of them are members of Hubpages?

BTW, when my mom had surgery for cancer years ago, her surgeon called the family in and he prayed over her before she was taken to surgery.


yourhealthmatters 2 years ago

Hi Kenneth, once again you have raised our awareness of a serious topic with your characteristic humor. Thank you very much, and take good care of yourself!


lyns profile image

lyns 2 years ago from USA

Great, love this hub certainly entertaining, and well orchestrated awesome hub love it, this hub brought to mind a surgery I had several years ago and I thought about what the surgeon told me once it was a success, that is he said you know I was up almost all night trying to figure out what to do about your broken shattered foot, and finally it came to me right before your surgery. I thought I am glad it did and you didn't share this with me while I was about to go under the knife; lol thanks for his hub voted up and plus. Have a good one. 6/30/2014


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hi, lyns,

Thank you, from my heart, for your kind words about my hub. I love how you "surgically" presented your thinking and made it smooth for me to understand.

God bless you richly in your endeavors.

I noticed the date 6/20/2014 was the date of your comment. I am sorry for being so late. Today is July 12, so I am sorry.

My health has acted-badly as of late and I ask your mercy.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

yourhealthmatters,

Thank you kindly for your sweet comments. And for taking time to read this hub which I wanted to be "good medicine," causing some myrth and dispelling gloom and depression.

I have to have pain shots in my back every three months and my surgeon always comes in and talks to me before he puts me to sleep.

He has a great bedside manner.

But back to you. Thanks so much for all you have said of my hubs.

Bless you.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

MixBeJabbers,

I was just, LOL, "cutting" the red tape with this hub that I hoped would cause you to stop and look at how your surgeon acts before he cuts on you.

Read JayeWisdom's comments on this very hub. Hair-raising. Bu thank you sincerely, MizBeJabbers, for being a good friend, follower and talented writer.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

PatriciaTL,

I appreciate your thinking on this hub. You gave me some very kind words. I do appreciate them and pray that God bless you richly.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Dear Jaye . . .

Wow. What can I say, but I am sorry. I want to let this ONE comment cover your two sad comments. First thank you for your time and writing of your comments that made ME think about hospitals and the staff who work there.

Did you ever seek legal help in your plights with these medical personnel?

And the surgeon with the Country Western music, how long did he practice his craft with obstacles like loud music? Did he not realize that the service nurse responsible for handing him his tools might not hear his request? This to me is not only stupid but dangerous.

I admire you for being so tough during all of this and I admire you for sharing with us.

God bless you, Dear Jaye.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

cecileportilla . . .

Thank you, dear friend, for your kind remarks. I am sorry that I took so long in responding.

I just wanted to let people know that even surgeons are not immune to scrutiny although disguised as humor. LOL.

You know. I can "sound" intelligent and I should be happy.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hi, sheilamyers,

I am with you 100%. If I am to be put under for a surgery, the very least the surgeon can do is earn his pay by doing a thorough job. Thanks for your kind comment.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hi, MsMillar

I appreciate your comment on this hub, and how you think. You helped to make my day a big brighter.

Take care and come back often.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

ESPeck1919,

Thank you so kindly for your remarks and time spent reading this hub. You are a brave person in sharing your experiences with surgeries.

I have learned that when and if I ever need surgeries again, I will trust God, who after all, holds all of our lives, including the surgeon's life, in His hands, so why should I fret?

God bless you and come back again.

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