A Nurse With Attitude

Where Dark Cynical Humor, Nursing Issues, and Politics Seem to Merge

A Trilogy of Horror



    Today is Friday and I’m working in the Neuro room.  Of all the surgery that I do, Neuro is my favorite.  The surgeon that I work with is known as one of the best in the nation for functional neuro-surgery.  I can’t say any names, (please see my disclaimer) but Dr. B pioneered the procedure for trigeminal neuralgia.  Everything he does is really cool and, if you show the least bit of interest, he loves to teach.   Today we’re doing  DBS cases,  (Deep  Brain Stimulator) which is a standard surgical treatment for Parkinson’s disease.  Because we had worked hard, had rapid turn-overs, and got the surgical suite and the patient ready in record times, we were rewarded by getting an add-on case.  It was  GYN to boot. 

 Dr. B said, “Hey, they aren’t gonna just let you guys go home early are they?” 

“Heck no,  we’re getting an add-on case.  Apparently, it’s one  that no one else is willing to do.”

“That’s not right… hey, what are you getting?”

I pulled up the chart on the computer,  “It’s a GYN case.  I think it’s an Incision and Drainage (I&D) of a vaginal lesion.” 

Dr. B said, “that’s just wrong.  Why can’t you guys go home when I’m through… or at least when the case load is done.  Add-on cases should be for those who are not pulling their weight, not those who bust their butts to get the room finished ahead of schedule.”   Then he looked back at me like I was going to disagree.  “Hey, you’re preachin’ to the choir here.  I mean,  Hep C,  Condyloma, HIV+,  smoker, IVDA, it just keeps going… the good news is that she’s not four hundred pounds.  My scrub chimed in, “hey, meth users are not known for having a weight problem.  They’re  usually on the skinny side.  I feel bad for her,  it’s a trilogy of horror… depression leading to drug abuse, alcoholism, multiple partners, STD’s and eventually terminal illness… it’s just terrible.”    

 The Neurosurgery resident chimed in,  “trilogy of horror you say.  That’s nothing… I’ll tell you a horror story.  I was in clinic just yesterday.  Oh, and by the way, you won’t see this guy…  he won’t make it to surgery.  Anyhow, there was this nice man who had his future, loving family, house, dog,  great job,  you know, everything  possible going his way.  First he suffers a strange unexplained “sense of moodiness”.   He gets depressed, his wife divorces him and takes everything, including the kids.  He gets worse,  and he is eventually fired from his job.  He gets even worse and ends up in jail for assaulting a police officer who was trying to write him a traffic ticket.  The court makes him get a psych evaluation and he is then referred to me.  He comes into the clinic and I discover he has a frontal lobe tumor causing personality changes… and now the bad news… it’s terminal.  This poor smuck is going to have a deteriorating personality disorder and eventually die blind and paralyzed.”

The room was silent as the resident continued, “It just goes to show you sometimes things really are worse.  I mean we all should be thankful for what we have.  And for you guys here in surgery,  the worse cases can be the ones that never make it to surgery. And yes, there are things that are worse than death”

Trying to break the silence and the sudden incredibly dark mood, I said, “it should make you take pause and to be thankful for what you have.  I mean, every new day… every day that my eyes open up,  I feel that it’s a blessing.” 

The surgeon looked up again,  “Amen to that.”


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