Archive November 2017 XVIII, No. 11

Behind Closed Doors: Creatures of Habit

The rituals and routines of an OR nurse.

Paula Watkins

Paula Watkins


safety pin

Whether it's driving the same route every morning or getting dressed in a certain order, we all have our rituals and routines that help us get through the day.

I come into work and go straight to the coffee pot. It's my third cup and it's only 0620. Oh, look: a new container of my favorite creamer. And so what if it comforts me to count the number of times I stir my coffee forward and backward.

Smiling, I walk into the locker room and open the first scrub cabinet door, only to be greeted with 3 empty shelves screaming, "Ta-da. NO SCRUBS!" Slamming the cabinet door shut, I mumble under my breath the same profanic words I said when the alarm went off 3 times this morning.

Opening each and every cabinet that houses scrubs, a pair of 4XLs seems to be the only option (other than going "necked"). Lucky for me, I have 4 big ol', honkin' safety pins in my locker for my daily game of sartorial nip and tuck.

  • pin No. 1 keeps the top from becoming a plunging neckline;
  • pin No. 2 reinforces the tie on the pants so that they don't come undone and plummet to the floor;
  • pin No. 3 goes through the pocket to keep my note cards and pens from falling out every time I bend over; and
  • pin No. 4 keeps the massive tent-like cover jacket together so that, if pin No. 2 holding my pants together should fail, the jacket coming below my knees will still protect what modesty I have left with this age.

Pillage and plunder
Time for the morning huddle by the schedule board. It's a mixed bag. Good news: I get to see what procedures I'll be working and who the surgeon, anesthesia provider and scrub tech will be. Bad news: I receive papers telling me what I screwed up in charting 2 weeks ago. That must have been the shift when I had 8 15-minute cases followed by the femoral neck and malleolar fractures on the right leg of that 97-year-old woman.

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