I tend to think of my days as fairly frustrating. Even if things go pretty smoothly, it’s because I’ve put a lot of thought and effort into planning the day out and forestalling problems.
Ladybug doesn’t always do what I tell her to do. I spend a great deal of time catching her and making her do what she was told. Any particular thing I tell her, I have about a 50% chance that she’ll start crying and flopping on the floor. It’s frustrating.
Rabbit throws everything I feed him on the floor, after first smearing it all over his clothes, and handing some to Ladybug so she can rub it in her hair. He wakes up from his nap exactly as I try to lie down to rest – no matter what time I try it. It’s frustrating.
I met up with some old friends from the surgery residency this afternoon. There were four kids under 3, so we let them “play” together while I caught up on news.
“I’m the chief on Dr. M’s rotation now,” one of them said. “I had a flashback the other day to when I was an intern there and you were the chief. He was yelling at the nurses, saying the exact same thing he was saying way back then. ‘I’m operating in the pelvis, for goodness’ sake, you have to give me the long instruments!’ ” (Knowing Dr. M, I’m sure she edited his remarks for the kids’ sakes.)
And I could instantly picture myself back there, in the distinctive green scrubs of that hospital; the old-fashioned, un-updated tiled OR walls; Dr. M’s room, one of the biggest in that OR, but still with lights that never seemed bright enough for what we needed to see; and one of his classic pelvic cases. That’s the thing about operating in the pelvis: it’s so deep. You can never see enough. The cases are long, and physically taxing because you spend the whole time craning your neck to see all the way down, while also tugging as hard as possible on the retractors to try to improve the view, and with your second or third hand trying to manipulate the necessary instruments. And of course, the scrub tech would be handing us normal-length instruments, seven or eight inches long; and Dr. M would have to protest to get the correct, extra-long clamps and scissors and needle drivers, more like twelve inches long. He’d been operating there for years before I was on service, and it’s been several more years now – and they still can’t give him the right instruments, for cases he does every week – for cases which are his particular specialty.
I was only operating as an attending for a few years before I retired, but the same thing happened to me. Every.single.time. I went to do a laparoscopic inguinal hernia, I wanted the same piece of mesh, the same camera, and the same three instruments. Just three. For goodness’ sake. Three instruments. And every.single.time, at least one of those things would be missing. Often more than one. How hard can it be to make a simple list, and send those instruments to a case which was booked at least a week in advance?
And I thought, I forgot how frustrating life as a surgeon was, too. At least now the people I’m taking care of and banging my head on the wall over are my own flesh and blood. And since they’re currently babies, I am very hopeful that I will be able to teach them better behavior. With God’s help, I think I have a better chance of success than Dr. M does of solving his frustrations.