Thursday, April 17, 2008

Letting it all hang out

This week finds me in la cirugía -- surgery -- so this morning I go to the supplies window in the operating room suite to be issued my scrubs for the morning’s cases. The students here get disposable scrubs made of papery fiber and so that’s what I get, along with my ration of mask and shoe covers. I change clothes and head on into the OR with my usual enthusiastic how-can-I-help-you smile where, after being introduced to everyone, I grab the patient’s chart to read about the upcoming case. What a dedicated medical student! Looking down at the chart under the bright lights of the OR, however, it occurs to me that I can see my socks awfully clearly through the legs of my scrub pants. Horrified, I realize that my thin papery scrubs are practically see-through! At first I’m hopeful that the worst of it is just being able to see my socks, but a discreet and increasingly mortified inspection reveals that I am basically standing there in a room full of anaesthesiologists, surgical residents, and nurses in my underwear. What can I do? I opt for a lengthy examination of the patient’s chart, but with the chart held a bit lower than usual.

Fortunately I manage to communicate to the friendly and helpful Dr. Gomez the fact that I would like to change my scrubs. Like most operating rooms this one is kept a bit on the cool side, so he asks if I want to change because I’m cold. (Can this possibly get any more humiliating?) I’m happy to let him run with that theory, however, because if I tried to explain any more in my limited Spanish I’d probably be arrested. Or sent to the Psych floor. I’m beginning to realize why so many people here seem to either bring their own scrubs or wear long coats.

At this point it’s all I can do to just keep looking straight ahead, repeating over and over to myself “it’s not what you wear, it’s how you wear it.” I reluctantly give up my modesty-preserving chart and Dr. Gomez escorts me down the hall back to the formidable woman guarding the supplies window. Dr. G asks the gatekeeper if I could get a robe or coat, but that is absolutely out of the question—“they’re only for doctors, not for students!” Finally he manages to talk her out of a set of real cloth scrubs. The pants legs only come down to mid-calf on me, and the shirt only just barely reaches the top of the pants, but at least they’re opaque. Now I can return to the OR without living the nightmare where you walk onstage for your trombone recital and realize that you’re stark naked.

And so, clinging to my last shreds of dignity, I scrub in for the surgery. As things turn out I get to do a lot of suturing and Dr. Gomez teaches me a stitch I’ve never used before, earning me a “¡muchacho!” from the junior resident.

At least, I hope the comment was for my suturing….

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4 Comments:

At April 17, 2008 at 12:27 PM , Blogger Madame Leiderhosen said...

ow. ow. ow.
Now I've laughed and snorted myself into a full-body headache with a side order of giggles.
Stop. Please Stop. Or more. More, more, more.

 
At April 18, 2008 at 5:35 AM , Blogger michaelg said...

Thank god for underpants, huh?

 
At April 23, 2008 at 6:48 PM , Blogger Tom said...

That one had me in stitches!!

 
At April 26, 2008 at 10:28 PM , Blogger Ben-Bob said...

You found it amusing? Well, suture self....

 

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