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Behind Closed Doors
An OR Nurse's Thanksgiving
Paula Watkins
Publish Date: October 10, 2007   |  Tags:   Opinion

Paula Watkins, RN, CNOR As we pause to give thanks, I thought I'd list a few things for which we who work in the nation's ORs should be grateful.

1. You don't have to deal with bedpans, bed baths or bedside commodes.

2. No more bad hair days. You can show up for work in jeans, any old shirt, wet hair and no makeup. Just put on a mask and hat, and nobody knows, nobody cares.

3. When things don't fit, you've learned from orthopedics to just force it.

Paula Watkins, RN, CNOR\ 4. You can pass gas during a bowel case and no one ever knows if it's you or the patient.

5. It's always cold in the OR, making your hot flashes more tolerable.

6. You can pick and choose whom you'd let operate on you and, in some instances, not even mind that they'll see your less-than-perfect body in those peekaboo gowns.

7. Sometimes you get lucky and end up in the amputation instead of the perirectal abscess going on down the hall.

8. Sometimes it just feels good to put a knife into something (even though you'd like it to be in that annoying person standing across the table from you).

9. Your mother is endlessly proud that you work at a respected profession and make reasonably good money, even though you still might be the "call girl" that night.

10. Occasionally, you get a visual of something that can later provide you with material for a mental fantasy.

11. You get to hear patients explain what they thought they heard the doctor tell them. A few of my favorites:

  • high-as-hell hernia (hiatal hernia),
  • Barcelona sis (Bartholin's cyst),
  • unconfident cervix (incompetent cervix),
  • messed-up Volvo (vulva),
  • a trombone in the vein, (vein thrombosis),
  • messed-up crustacean tube and Otis and the media in the ears (Eustachian tube and otitis media),
  • prostrate getting some reflex when the patient makes water (prostate reflux),
  • locked-up bowels (constipation), and
  • micro-orgasm in the right leg (that must be some infection!)

12. Your mouth may say one thing, but your eyes can truly express what you think of a person.

13. You get to hear the surgeon (try to) explain to the clueless, yet curious, wife how in the world the foreign body wound up in her husband's rectal area.

14. You can ask others to take their clothes off without sounding like a pervert.

15. Maneuvering stretchers in crowded corridors and dodging obstacles in the OR hallways has made you a better rush-hour driver.

16. Your patient satisfaction surveys are always positive because the patients usually can't remember you or anything about the surgical experience because they're either heavily sedated or (better yet) asleep.

17. You can enjoy onions, garlic and spicy food, and no one else has to smell it because you're wearing that infamous mask.

18. The mask also can cover up lipstick on your teeth or broccoli between them, and no one ever knows - until you take off the mask between procedures.

19. When someone asks you for something, you can respond with, "Do you want fries with that?"

20. You can inflict pain on a surgeon and insist it was an accident.