Today my brother is having ACL surgery and is from out of town, so being the wonderful sister I hosted him for the night and took him in to the hospital today. 6am, at the hospital, for an 8am surgery. It costs 9.95 for wireless at this hospital PER DAY, so I'm trying to make the most of my time on the internet because this is truly costing me a fortune (yes I can't go a day without internet!)
I've been in the surgical area before, as a nursing student, and its interesting to see the differences between being a patient/family and being part of the medical/nursing team.
When I came to watch surgeries as a student, I frantically came in at 7am, got my green scrubs, and went to the pre-surgery area to introduce myself to my patient and hope that they would give me permission to watch. Then I went around with the nurses and they told me what they do to prep for the surgery. Watching the scrub nurse maintain sterility and knowing how many gadgets they need to prepare astounds me! Operating rooms, at least at this tertiary care center, are NOT AT ALL similar to ones on ER or Grey's anatomy. They are not large, spacious rooms with an observation area and homey covered walls. In fact, they are cramped because of the equipment, white and VERY bright so the surgeon can see what the heck is going on. Between the instruments needed for the surgery and the PEOPLE required to be there (especially at a teaching hospital), there isn't room for anyone, let alone the patient. There are the consultants whom oversee the surgery, then there are the senior residents, who mostly do the surgery, the junior residents who pop in and out depending on the severity and how many people are watching the floor upstairs, then there are the med student observers, the respiratory therapy students, the scrub and circulating nurses, nursing student observers, anesthetists, and their residents! Crazy eh! I enjoyed watching surgery, but honestly I dont' know how they can stand for 8 hours straight without walking anywhere. I don't see myself as the scrub nurse, although it was interesting to watch!
Anyways, its funny how being a family member of a patient makes the experience different. First, we had to get here at 6am to register. We waited in line for 30 minutes before the receptionist sent us up to the preoperative area. Then we get to the waiting room, my brother goes back by himself and they get him set up with a hospital gown, IV, and markings on his legs to tell the surgeons which leg to work on. Then after about 45 minutes of this, they call me in. It is now 7:40am. The nurse clinician explains post op stuff to both my bro and myself (at least I will remember it, my bro is like most non-medical people and has no clue what they are saying!), and then the circulating nurse also comes in to make sure the paperwork is done. The doc shows up briefly, in her scrubs, and then goes off to talk to another one of her patients and to prep her residents for the surgery. Finally, at 8:15am, (and a Code Red later), they ship him to the operating room. I am to wait in the waiting room for x number of hours until they get him to the post-surgical day unit, where I will take him home.
If I didn't' know the system, and how surgeries worked, I think I would be much more concerned and hesitant and feel really out of the loop. As a nursing student, I saw beforehand how the flow through surgery works... each person has their job with checks and balances to make sure things go smoothly, and the right area is worked on, and how long things can take. If I was not experienced with this stuff, it would be a very scary place to be. I would be taking everything the nurses and doctor said for granted (waiting times, etc), and waiting on edge until the doc or resident comes in to say everything went fine. I think it takes a lot of trust to sit here and wait to see if your loved one made it through surgery, and to trust the people with the scalpels that they know what they are doing. Personally, I feel weird sitting here when I have watched surgeries in the past. I want to watch this one! haha.
Although I have seen residents at work and know they are doing a great job and are overseen by the top surgeons in the area, I still know that they are learning and things can go wrong. I think sometimes the surgeons don't make it clear that they have a TEAM of residents and med students working on their patients, not just themselves. People put so much faith into that ONE person, the surgeon, and they don't realize that most likely the surgeon won't even be doing their surgery!
Anyways, I probably should do more then blogging if I'm to be on this extremely expensive internet. I'll update you on the progress of my bro as the day goes by. Did I mention that I also have to be at clinical placement today at 2pm, and it lasts until 10pm? Yes, that's right, 20 hours in the hospital today. woohoo!