Thursday, May 2, 2013

There will always be stories that will follow us. From something we've read, watched on the news, gossiped from that overly chatty friend or witnessed with our own eyes. The thing about being an operating room nurse is that the events we witness everyday, and is considered as norm (even downright boring as I stare into my 6th Caesarian Section in an 8-hour graveyard shift) are the ones most people cringe and gasp upon. 

But then, at times, stories will come swinging through the semi-sterile double doors that even the most experienced of us will remember.


A 20-something year old just lost his leg the day I was complaining about how I had no time to get a pedicure. A victim of a construction freak accident, his post-adolescent leg was permanently detached from his body. Now, we've seen countless of below-the-knee amputations and once we've gotten over the crude bone sawing, it was not a big deal. But the devastating and instantaneous effect of a single tragic event followed me the whole day from the moment I transferred out the patient to the ward and had to explain to the receiving nurse why a handful of relatives were crying over a BKA. The patient, himself, was in silent tears as he stared at the ceiling, waiting for his stretcher to be wheeled beside the ward bed, probably wondering the future that lays before him.

We've all been there. Thinking that something (or someone) will be with us until the end of our selfish existence, always available and conveniently at an arm's length away. Until they're not. And then the world feels like it has stopped turning as we stand, shell-shocked. I've pictured this in countless scenarios, but never one starring a body part. I guess we are all under the wrong impression that anything we are born with will stay with us to the grave.


Burn patients. I would always cringe internally whenever I see and care for one. Not because I was repulsed by their appearance, with their scorched flaky skin that needs to be scrubbed off like a wood furniture in need of sandpaper, or the smell of burnt flesh, cloying in the air even after the procedure is done. I recoil on the inside because I could not fathom the pain, the prolonged discomfort and the life changing effects of deformity brought upon by seconds of misfortune.

Then I remember the time I looked in the mirror and saw a colossal pimple right at the center of my nose, red and angry at the world. Everyone at work noticed and made me feel like the most dermatologically ill-fated person in the country with stubborn pores rallying against me. Curse those blemish free goddesses with clear radiant skin and perfect bodies. Why can't I look like them? It turns out, luck was still on my side. Very much so.


Running. When people inside the operating room are running, you know there are urgent matters need to be attended to. When people inside the operating room are running with a patient on a stretcher on tow, you know it's a matter of life and death.

We didn't even have time to properly set up a complete explore laparotomy / thoracotomy set when the patient came rushing in from the hospital corridor one minute after a hurried phone call from the emergency room. Middle adult male, gunshot wound through the chest. Someone continued CPR, another ran for the e-cart and ampules of Epinephrine. He was fluidly transferred to the OR table and surgery started immediately amidst the systematic chaos.

It only took less than half an hour before the surgeon proclaimed the inevitable and death certificates were arranged.

A father of children, a husband to a wife, a son to a mother. He was watching TV in their apartment's living room when hit by a stray bullet from a domestic fight near their home. Intraoperative findings revealed that the bullet tore through two of the chambers of his heart, obliterating any chances of survival.

I could hear his wife's agonized cry from outside of the operating room complex as I concentrated on the novel that was my nurse's notes. Too many thoughts poured through my mind. What a shock it must have been to find a loved one dying in the sanctuary of your own home. And what, in this world of unexplained phenomena, willed a stray bullet straight through a man's heart?


It's a common quote: "I cried because I have no shoes, until I saw a man with no feet." We understand what it means, hell, we've read it on Facebook with matching depressing black and white photo of a pitiful looking man looking sullen. Some even clicked "Like".

And yet, do we really remember, as we whine about unreliable WiFi signal and complain about the bipolar weather? They say "Time is gold" and no one has ever really contested that fact, and yet, why are we throwing away valuable stones by the kilo by spending hours on Facebook and obsessing about how everyone's life is better than ours? Or sticking to mindless, purposeless routines because society tells us to do so, all the while forgetting to live our life, the life we truly want to live?

Because, whatever we are doing at this very moment, what makes us so sure that a bullet is not on its way?

Blog Widget by LinkWithin