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Archive December 2019 XX, No. 12

Behind Closed Doors: The 12 Days of Christmas (OR Edition)

You won't find any turtle doves or pear trees here.

Paula Watkins

Paula Watkins, RN, CNOR



On the 1st day of Christmas my OR gave to me … PTSD from the Devil incarnate of a scrub tech I had to work with every day. I would call her a witch or a female dog, but I wouldn’t want to insult the Wiccan religion or canines.

One the 2nd day of Christmas my OR gave to me ... 2 patients for appendectomies. The first one was a 15-year-old male patient the size of an NFL player with an appendix on 4th and goal. The second patient was a thin 30-year-old male, and his appy had already scored a touchdown while he was still deciding if he should go to the hospital.

On the 3rd day of Christmas my OR gave to me ... 3 gall-bladders. One patient had been to one too many Christmas parties. The next patient was a 28-year-old female post-delivery of 4 weeks who spent her last trimester with cholelithiasis. The last gallbladder belonged to a 3-time hot dog-eating champion.

On the 4th day of Christmas my OR gave to me … 4 nasty podiatry cases starting at 1700. Why at 1700? Yes, I know we stay open until 2100. But they’re also posted after his office hours. They aren’t emergencies. All 4 waited months too late to fix those fat little piggies, and now it’s time to cut off their heads? I mean, what’s one day more? Yes, I know we’re busy tomorrow. Nooooo, please don’t flip rooms. You only have one team. There will still be the same turnover time or worse.

On the 5th day of Christmas my OR gave to me … 5 different procedures with the same surgeon, and there are no pull sheets for any of these cases. That’s 5 case carts of emptiness.

On the 6th day of Christmas my OR gave to me … a gain of about 6 pounds a week. Well, what do you expect? I didn’t give myself adequate time to take breaks or lunches. I’d clock out and then catch up on charting. I missed meals. Then I’d go home exhausted and stress-eat like a champ, mostly pint-size containers of Haagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream. Wearing scrubs and those stretchy workout pants with an XXL t-shirt, you just don’t realize you’re packing on the pounds.

On the 7th day of Christmas my OR gave to me … 7 days off for Christmas! Well, technically 4 days. The facility is closed for Christmas Day and the weekend. But I did get Christmas Eve, and the 2 days after Christmas off. Plus, the following Monday (I asked for it last March).

On the 8th day of Christmas my OR gave to me … 8 hours being the charge nurse. If this column wasn’t a professional piece of art, I’d have put in writing what I had to say about that (in the locker room, of course).

On the 9th day of Christmas my OR gave to me ... the one room with the reliable computer. It didn’t freeze or back itself up or reboot with no warning. I almost burst out into my happy dance.

On the 10th day of Christmas my OR gave to me ... 10 minutes to go to the bathroom and didn’t count it as a break.

On the 11th day of Christmas my OR gave to me …11 weeks without having to work with Dr. Ima Weasel.

On the 12th day of Christmas my OR gave to me …12 more months of working a job I love. OSM

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