27 February 2009

Public Service Announcement 001: Surgery.

Warning: Do not read this post before mealtime. Actually, go ahead and read it anyway.

Okay so this week I finished my second OR rotation for my clinicals. I got the chance to see a lot of cool things in surgery over the past few days. A big highlight was a total hip replacement, usually performed on older people whose bones are too arthritic or osteoporotic to last naturally much longer.

I was also in on a couple of cervical spine fusion procedures. These are done when the discs in your backbone bulge, slip, and press down on the spinal nerves causing all kinds of problems. Your vertebrae are straightened out and screwed together with metal plates to alleviate the uneven pressure on the nerves.

There were quite a few laparoscopic cholecystectomies (do not click that link if you're the slightest bit squeamish, as it includes photos taken from inside your abdominal cavity with a scope. Actually on second thought, go ahead and click that link anyway. You know you want to). Having your gallbladder removed is the most common method used to treat gallstones -- which in turn are caused by being overweight, poor diet, and body chemistry. Now, the procedure itself is pretty straightforward and relatively bloodless as the gallbladder is removed through a small incision made on your abdomen. Then, a fluoroscopic x-ray is taken of the liver and part of the small intestine to make sure everything still works like it should.

But on to my point.

Here's my Public Service Announcement for the month. If you ever find yourself undergoing abdominal surgery at any point in the future, please, please, please remember to clean out your belly button. Hold on. I don't think you quite understand.


Look. Surgical scrub nurses deal with blood, guts, and all kinds of other bodily fluids on an hourly basis. Okay? It's their job. It's also their job to sterilize the area -- your stomach -- in the operating room right before the surgeon cuts to minimize the chance of infection. This means cleaning the entire surface of your abdomen, including your navel. So when a scrub nurse is gagging and visibly sweating because she's Q-Tipping your belly button that smells like a fieldmouse died inside of it, because she just pulled out something that looks like a dried-up corn kernel, and ANOTHER thing that looks like a tangled moist hairball, there is a problem.

I'm sure everyone in the OR was making the same twisted, pained expression under their surgical masks. Holy God, it was gross. I mean, the same day I saw black, rotten bile spew out of a diseased gallbladder. Fine. But baring witness to the horrors of a filthy, dirty navel ... that's another story entirely.

So kids, remember to wash everything. EVERYTHING.

1 comment(s):

Katherine said...

LOL. A dried-up corn kernel encased in a cage of hair with a perspiration reduction? YumMY.

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