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What Really Happens in an OR

I wrote that I would tell about the journey I took getting this social media website up and running. However, I changed me mind.   Changing my mind doesn’t make me wishy-washy or flim-flammy. Changing my mind is a woman’s prerogative. It is just exhibiting my privileged right to change my mind.  This right is exclusive to women. Guess men never change their minds.

So, now that it has been explained why I am not flim-flammy or wishy-washy, I will change my mind. After all starting the website has very little to do with OR nursing. Even the quick run-down is boring. Maybe I’ll talk about it more once you have learned more about me. Just know it was a very impulsive action, but an action I want to see through to the finish.

I think I am going to write about the OR and how it really is. Or, better put, how it was for me. I have often wished that I could tell people more about what actually goes on behind those double doors.

Now I can and I will share all the misogynistic, sexist, racist, down-right abusive reality of the operating room. It is only now that I do not rely on an OR to pay my bills that I feel free to say these things.  I will use this blog as a means to talk about what happens in an operating room. I realize not all ORs are the same, and these stories are just that, stories loosely based on reality. Names and faces are changed to protect the innocent (and not so innocent).

AORN and ANA have many guidelines regarding how a nurse should care for a patient.  Nurses know these guidelines. You must treat all patients with dignity and respect.  Personal judgements have no place in a care-centered profession. In an OR, the RN needs to ensure basic patient care guidelines and ethics are followed.  

The saddest experience I have ever been involved with involved a gentleman in his mid 30s.  He had multiple tattoos all over his body. Now you would think this would not be cause for prejudiced in this day and age, but it seems to me that medical professionals dislike tattoos.  They seem to think the more tattoos a person wears the bigger scum they are.

This man was covered in tattoos and overweight.  Not a sight surgeons like. Once we were in the room and the patient was asleep the surgeon, anesthesiologist, and tech began talking about the patient.  None of them had spent any time getting to know this man, but all were quick to assume the worst.

They started talking about him, suspecting him of being a drug addict who lives with his Mom.  I had spent some time getting to know him. The more they spoke the angrier I became. Here were the people who were going to be ensuring this man’s health and well-being completely degrading him.

I started telling them the truth about this man.  He had had a fairly hard life, but he was trying. He was a drug addict at one time but then he had a daughter.  He stopped taking drugs when she was born, but his ex-wife could not stop. She was endangering the life of their child so he divorced her and was now a single dad trying to raise his 3 year old daughter.  

I’m not really sure if the rest of the crew felt reproach or not after finding out the truth.  I know I felt bad knowing I had to say something or they would have continued trashing him all case.   I’m disappointed that they thought I wouldn’t care about them trashing him. I don’t know if it was more disappointing to know they thought I wouldn’t care  or their thinking I would be intimidated into letting it go.

In a different facility in a different state I had another patient who was covered with tattoos.  I think the only place he was missing tattoos was on his face. Unlike the other tattooed patient, this one was very lean and muscular.  He acted a little like some “surfer dude”. Very relaxed and respectful. I got to know him a little and learned he was a world class motocross racer.  

Back in the OR room, once the patient was asleep, the verbal trashing began.  He had tattoos all over! (Like that is a bad thing.) They bet he was a meth man.  Same scenario as last time. Surgeon, anesthesiologist and tech all trashing this person for no other reason than that they have tattoos.  I told them that he was a world class racer and the attitude changed completely. That was somewhere in southern California where people liked to “know” people and name drop.  Suddenly he had value.

It has always made me sad if I let my personal opinions interfere with my care.  It is difficult to break out of lifelong beliefs and find a new way of thinking. But it is also a good thing to do everyday.  Find love and the things that unite us. We are all individuals to a point and then we all need the same things; food, water, air, etc..

Have a happy day, Kari


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