What could possibly go wrong?
It’s just a quick ______ repair.
We’ll be done soon.
Don’t worry, it’s a light schedule today.
Such words are taboo in the operating room. Yet I’ve spoken them all.
I once asked a general surgeon about his infection rate with mesh for hernia repairs – as he sewed mesh into a patient’s peritoneum – and he jokingly told me to “Get out.”
I once started to walk into a surgery without a mask on and immediately froze in shock as the scrub yelled at me.
Another time I forgot to clamp some tubing as I spiked a 3 liter bag of saline and I gave my self and the surrounding area a salty shower.
I once applied EKG leads on the wrong side of a patient’s body.
I was scheduled to be on call one day, but didn’t know it. I arrived at the hospital in a panic because I didn’t have by badge or know what kind of trauma I was walking into. I ended up being there for almost 9 hours without a break or food.
I make mistakes. I’m imperfect. I’m human. And I’m not sorry.
I’m not sorry I’m human because the best parts of me are the most human parts. Someone once told me, “Once you’re perfect, you’re dead.” In other words, once you’ve achieved perfection, you no longer have a purpose for being here. This was a great reminder; perfection as an end goal is a dead end.
In AA, there’s a part in the main book that says,
“Our next function is to grow in understanding and effectiveness. This is not an overnight matter. It should continue for our lifetime.” (p84)
My daily challenge is to see how I can stretch and grow, while staying stimulated and occupied. This is why operating room nursing is a great fit; because it forces me to multitask and to use clinical judgement, all while utilizing all the people skills I never thought I’d have.
I also know that nursing brings out the best of my human side. In the brief moments that I have to connect with a patient before surgery, I use every fiber of my imperfect self to connect with my patient and his/her family, all while trying to inspire their confidence in my clinical skills.
No matter how much a surgeon or anesthesiologist criticizes or praises me, the golden moment of the day is when an post-anesthetized patient remembers my name. I can’t promise you’ll be cured or the surgeon will fix the problem perfectly or you’ll emerge from anesthesia without pain or nausea, but I can promise that I’ll look out for you and care for you in your most vulnerable moments. I’ll play Michael Jackson during surgery if that’s what you want. I’ll tell the staff to call you by your favorite nickname. I’ll text your mom/sister/daughter in the waiting room. I will care for you and about you – things a robot couldn’t do. And for that, I’m not sorry I’m human.