You do what all day?

My sister and I had the opportunity before my mother’s ankle surgery last week to accompany her to the pre-op room. I don’t think this is normally allowed (we seemed to be the only family members in there), but we wanted to speak to the anesthesiologist and were permitted to do that in pre-op.

It was quite fascinating. I had been in post-op after my dad’s heart surgery, which was awful (I’ve never seen anybody so white, and quivering from the anesthesia), and in the ICU a few times, but never pre-op. It was like an ER, with lots of “slots” for beds and many people in scrubs and booties scurrying around doing their thing, which included taping the doctor’s name to the patient’s gurney, taping a note if the patient still needed to be “marked” for surgery, taking vitals, administering shots and IVs, and checking and rechecking to make sure they had the right patient slated for the right surgery. We talked to nurses, the CRNA, the anesthesiologist, and her surgeon, who all explained what they would do. Everyone was kind and matter-of-fact as they went about their life-and-death jobs.

All the while, I kept thinking, “How do people do this every day?” It was about as far away from my solitary desk and computer and “oh crap, e-mail’s down” worries as it could be. Nothing I do is even remotely critical (“My God, a typo! What will we do?), yet for these folks and millions of medical professionals in thousands of hospitals, it’s all in a day’s work.

It got me thinking: Along with “take your daughter to work” day, I wish they had “take anybody to work” day so I could see more of what others do day to day. It’s fascinating. Maybe I’d finally discover what I really want to be when I grow up. For sure I’d continue to marvel at people whose skills and talents are so vastly different from mine.

Nothing is really work unless you would
rather be doing something else.
                           ~ James Matthew Barrie


  1. mel said,

    Wednesday, February 13, 2008 at 9:37 am

    chris, this made me think (not for the first time) how sheltered I’ve been in my office working life… and how people (including me, at times) can be so critical of performances by these very stressed, often overworked, life-or-death performing professionals.

    thanks for bringing it to mind. and we’ll be praying for your mom’s full recovery!

  2. WritingbyEar said,

    Wednesday, February 13, 2008 at 10:07 am

    Thank you — all prayers are most welcome!

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