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The Surgeon's New Year Countdown

Updated on January 28, 2009

New Year's Eve Fireworks at IFC, Hong Kong

photo credit: Hong Kong Digital Vision
photo credit: Hong Kong Digital Vision

two scalpel handles, one unused needle and happy New year

 

“Five unused gauze swabs; four artery forceps, three needle holders, two scalpel handles, one unused needle and happy New year,” the instrument nurse was obviously enjoying this incorporation of the New Year countdown into the instrument count.

 

 

 

That was my New Year’s Eve countdown last night at the operating room. Samantha, a young working mother developed abdominal pain and fever while having her vacation in Phuket, Thailand. She made the right decision to quickly return to Hong Kong to seek medical attention. Her physician diagnosed acute diverticulicitis of the sigmoid colon with possible perforation. I was consulted two and a half hours before last year ended. I explained to Samantha that surgery was indicated. She was petrified and asked whether she could die from the condition. After further explanation and reassurance, emergency laparoscopy (keyhole approach to visualize the abdominal cavity) started at 10 pm. The plan was to simply wash the abdominal cavity and drain it with tubes, so called “in-and-out”, if there was no perforation. Unfortunately, a sizable perforation was found, leaking contrast liquid (put into her large bowel to maximize the information we could get from her abdominal computer tomography scan). I had to open up the abdomen and remove the diseased segment of sigmoid colon. I was doing fine but the New Year would have to start at the operating room. I was starting to close up when the New Year knocked on the door. My pager went on and the runner (the nurse who stays un-scrubbed and un-gowned to assist with getting extra instruments, positioning the patient and adjusting the lighting) read the text message for me. “Dr Yeung, the text says ‘battery low, needs changing’”. The text often doesn’t get transmitted properly if the battery is low.

 

 

 

I finished off the operation, un-scrubbed and called my wife. She greeted me with a smile in her voice, “Happy New Year, did you get my message?”

 

“No, the battery in my pager was low.”

 

“It’s all right, when are you home?”

 

“I’m almost done, just have to get changed and talk to the patient’s relative. I should be back in thirty minutes.”

 

 

 

After I got changed, I checked my pager again to see how low the battery was. The text was actually showing, “Honey, happy new year. I hate it when we are not together for the countdown. Come back soon. I am waiting for you at home, in your favorite outfit.” I’m always grateful to have very well-trained nurses.

 

 

 

You might wonder which outfit my favorite was. That’s another story. This particular piece is about this – “Happy New Year, everybody."

 

 

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    • Benson Yeung profile image
      Author

      Benson Yeung 8 years ago from Hong Kong

      Dear blondepoet,

      nice of you to drop by and comment.

    • blondepoet profile image

      blondepoet 8 years ago from australia

      thankyou for comments :} Great hub well done

    • Benson Yeung profile image
      Author

      Benson Yeung 8 years ago from Hong Kong

      Dear einron,

      happy new year to you and my condolecense to your sister's family and relatives.

    • einron profile image

      einron 8 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, CANADA

      Benson Yeung

      Happy New Year to you and family.

      Our New Year was not that happy for my sister passed away on December 26, 2008 of ovarian cancer. Anyway, we are glad that she is now free from pain and with the Lord. Life continues on!

    • Benson Yeung profile image
      Author

      Benson Yeung 8 years ago from Hong Kong

      Hi countrywomen,

      Happy New Year to you. I'm sure 2009 will be a bright and happy year. Good to see you.

    • Benson Yeung profile image
      Author

      Benson Yeung 8 years ago from Hong Kong

      Dear Cris,

      thanks for dropping by. It's always good to see you.

    • countrywomen profile image

      countrywomen 8 years ago from Washington, USA

      Benson- WOW!! That is such a noble way to celebrate the new year healing some one. I was so sad as the first thing on TV I heard was about Thailand accident then followed by continuing tragic news from Gaza Strip and this was supposed to be "Happy" New Year. Anyway I wish you do have wonderful moments with your wife and family whenever it is possible from your hectic profession.

    • Cris A profile image

      Cris A 8 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      Hey Benson, i'm sorry that you have to spend the countdown away from home. But I guess somebody's gotta do what you do! So it might as well be you! Anyways, nice pic - I saw it on TV, among with the countdowns in other places - great sight! Here's hoping that our new year would be as bright! Happy New Year :D

    • Benson Yeung profile image
      Author

      Benson Yeung 8 years ago from Hong Kong

      Dear siyu,

      thanks for commenting. Happy New Year to you.

    • profile image

      siyu07 8 years ago

      Dear Dr Yeung, very meaningful countdown. Happy New Year!!!

    • Benson Yeung profile image
      Author

      Benson Yeung 8 years ago from Hong Kong

      Hi Dottie1,

      thanks for commenting and Happy New Year to you.

    • Benson Yeung profile image
      Author

      Benson Yeung 8 years ago from Hong Kong

      Dear KH,

      thanks for commenting. The nurses are simply great when they can't hear me. They are SUPER when they can.

      cheers.

    • Dottie1 profile image

      Dottie1 8 years ago from MA, USA

      Awwwww, leave it to you Dr. Benson to make the most out of a rather unpleasant situation.....I can just hear you singing...two scapel handles, one unused needle, and a haaaaappy new yearrrrr. Well done Doc! Happy New Year!

    • profile image

      K H Chan 8 years ago

      Dear Benson

      Besides you have done a good job, the way of your nurses handled the pager would also deserve a credit.

    • Benson Yeung profile image
      Author

      Benson Yeung 8 years ago from Hong Kong

      Dear yxhuang,

      Xin Nian Kuai Le.

      cheers.

    • Benson Yeung profile image
      Author

      Benson Yeung 8 years ago from Hong Kong

      Dear goldtoad,

      thanks for dropping by and happy New Year to you and your family.

    • Benson Yeung profile image
      Author

      Benson Yeung 8 years ago from Hong Kong

      Dear Sybille,

      Happy New Year to you. Thanks for dropping by. I love Prague and look forward to returning.

    • Benson Yeung profile image
      Author

      Benson Yeung 8 years ago from Hong Kong

      Dear Jewels,

      happy new year to you. thanks for your kind comments on this and my other hubs.

    • Benson Yeung profile image
      Author

      Benson Yeung 8 years ago from Hong Kong

      Dear Rockinjoe,

      I'll pretend not having noticed your comment. Happy New Year.

    • profile image

      yxhuang 8 years ago

      Happy New Year!

    • goldentoad profile image

      goldentoad 8 years ago from Free and running....

      Happy New Year Benson, Hope you and your wife made up for the lost time!

    • Sybille Yates profile image

      Sybille Yates 8 years ago

      Happy New Year everybody from Prague (Czech Republic) SY

    • Jewels profile image

      Jewels 8 years ago from Australia

      How human is this story! Your message from your wife bought tears actually (it's just that time of year I guess). Amid the fireworks, parties, alchohol consumption, the dancing, laughing, joking, behind it all there is nothing standing still. It somehow makes life surreal. Nice space to your story.

      Where else but hubpages can you get an amazingly diverse group of people writing about what fills their day.

    • rockinjoe profile image

      Joseph Addams 8 years ago from Standing right behind you!

      Hi Benson. Looks like you got a great start to the New Year! Up to your wrists in colon. Glad your patient is ok.

      So, I hope you're going to let us know what outfit she wore. I HAVE TO KNOW!

    • profile image

      teresaleung 8 years ago

      Dr Yeung Great work! Happy New Year!