Emergency surgeries happen at any time during the week, but as I mentioned previously, Tuesdays and Thursdays are the main OR days for elective surgeries. My first day in the OR was quite interesting. When I went to the sinks to scrub, I looked all around for scrub brushes like I am used to. Then, the doctor passed me a bar of soap. I did the best I could to clean all surfaces of my fingers and hands. Then, the doctor used his elbow to get a small amount of pink soap (which I later realized was chlorhexidate) from a pump bottle mounted to the wall. I followed suit and scrubbed my hands a second time, then headed into the OR. I think I was a bit nervous on that first day. When the doctor handed me my cloth surgical gown for me to put on myself, I reverted back to how I put on gowns when doing “sterile” procedures in the ICU. I began to snap the neck of my own gown. With a concerned look, Dr. Faile corrected me, and the anesthesiologist snapped it together for me. (By snapping it myself, I would have contaminated myself, and had to scrub again.)
At the BMC, the theater is the location of the 2 operating rooms and the 2 minor procedure rooms. Tuesdays and Thursdays are surgery days. On Tuesday I saw 5 hernia surgeries, scrubbed in for 3. To see so many hernias in one day is not uncommon on a general surgery rotation in the States. As expected, there are many differences between the circumstances I’m used to back home and here. For instance, I was lancing an abscess on a woman’s thumb yesterday. She was lying on a stretcher with a baby on her belly nursing. We just had to keep a close watch on the baby’s wandering hands – keeping the sharps away from her tiny fingers.
* Warning * Today, I assisted/ observed 2 debridements of wounds and the following descriptions are fairly graphic.