Do the voodoo

Everybody has one. Even you.

I’m referring to a surgical superstition. You know, the totally irrational little voodoo-mojo-juju things you need to do (or avoid) because you just know it makes your operations go well.

It’s not the sensible things, like placing your sutures well or not slashing through that ureter. It’s the stuff that’s about as sane, rational and well-balanced as a season of Keeping Up With The Kardashians. It’s the surgeon’s version of not walking under ladders and avoiding black cats.

Erm, not that we believe in that stuff anyway…

but we totally do.

For some people it’s saying a phrase before starting (‘Let’s rock and roll!’), for  others an object (‘I’m wearing my lucky cystoscopy boots’).

The brilliant fellow in our unit is an extreme example. Before we can begin any surgical procedure she has a host of seemingly random objects to touch and mantras to repeat. This person has become quite infamous for her compulsive presurgical routine and all the scrub nurses know not to interrupt her when she is in the thick of it, as it throws her completely off balance. No harm has ever come to any of her patients because of it and we all accept it as her quirk. In a way, I can understand her need to create a kind of order out of what she perceives as utter chaos (and let’s be real, the minutes before the start of surgery can sometimes be chaotic!)

My little superstition is sartorial. I CANNOT DEAL with a scrub cap that doesn’t match or complement my scrubs. I’m not going to tear the offending item off and burn it in the theatre passage, but when my cap is black and my scrubs are navy I just bloody know this isn’t going to be a good day. Perfectly rational, no?

After I have scrubbed, I plant myself next to the table and I always ALWAYS test the Bovie by holding in each of the buttons on the handset. Once I’ve heard that satisfying beeeep-BOOOOOP sound of a Bovie functioning correctly, we may start. And then, all hell can break loose for all I care- at least I know I’m well dressed and my lightning stick is functional.

Beeeeeeeep – BOOOOOOOOP!!!

What’s your superstition? Please share!


The Naked Surgeon

The theatre scrubs at our hospital only come in two sizes: too big and too small.

They also appear to have been sewn together by elves on crack.

Trouser legs are either way too short, or super long. This results in either a Capri pant effect (with exposed ankles), or a cuff that has to be rolled multiple times to prevent being constantly stepped on. Neck lines are cut down to the level of the umbilicus, leaving an unhealthy amount of either cleavage or chest hair on show (think Burt Reynolds). And the worst part- the trousers don’t fasten properly! At any time during surgery, your trousers may decide to head south. Being scrubbed and elbow deep in blood/guts/pus renders you unable to correct your imminent wardrobe malfunction. You have two options: let your pants complete their descent, and complete your surgery with cold, exposed cheeks… OR get an unfortunate junior to grab them and try to secure them properly. The latter results in awkward fumbling under the surgical gown, much like pinning the tail on the donkey. Only imagine your consultant is the donkey. Both options are accompanied by the snickers of all involved theatre staff.

Scalpelista has been lucky so far- no pants-less surgery for me yet, but I have been confronted by a consultant’s pale, skinny, hairy legs… Adds a new dimension to the professional relationship.