I'll Be Wearing That White Coat
It was more of the nervous feeling you get when you know the outcome of something is going to decide the rest of your future.
As I tied the strings to my scrub pants for the first time, I couldn’t help but think about my nerves. It was not the type of butterflies you get before a big test, speech, or performance. It was more of the nervous feeling you get when you know the outcome of something is going to decide the rest of your future. It felt like I had a bag full of boulders hanging over my head, one false move and they would crush me to death. I was minutes away from finding out if I could handle human organs laying on the operating table. I want to be a medical examiner and perform autopsies, which is kind of like surgery. My mentor for three weeks while I was at internship, Dr, Chelsea, brought me into the lounge and sat me down. I think I was semi conscious at the time due to me staring off into space, thinking about if I could mentally handle what I was about to walk into and my mentor asking me if I was all right. My mentor had mentioned the day before that performing and witnessing a surgery completely changes your view on everything. After we sat there for a while, she told me what to expect. She said normally people who are in the operating room for the first time pass out or get really light headed. If I felt dizzy in any way, just speak up and immediately sit down on the operation room floor. I just wanted to blurt out to her, “How do I know that I’m ready? Ready to change my whole perspective on things, on life?” But the words couldn’t find their way out of my mouth. When she asked me if I was ready, I pretty much assumed that she asked, “Are you ready for the first steps on the road of your future?”
I walked into the operating room with the patient already covered and the first cut already made. This was good- I was going to ease myself into surgery. The operation Dr. Hardin was performing was a hernia repair. She was basically repairing a hole in the stomach wall of the patient where the patient’s intestines were popping out. This is bad because if the stomach wall starts to close and heal with the intestines sticking out, it can cause life threatening problems. When I first walked into the operating room I kept saying to myself, “Don’t touch anything, don’t touch anything, don’t touch anything!” Everywhere I looked it felt like the room was filled with blue and green objects. Blue and green towels, tarps on tables, the surgeons scrub cape, the mayo tray and the operating table. Anything blue or green was sterile and I wasn’t aloud to go two feet near it. I stood behind the blue tarp separating the patient’s torso and head and next to the anesthesiologist. As I looked over the tarp, all I saw was a big blob of yellow stuff. The yellow stuff looked like the fatty part of a steak but just a different color. Coincidently the yellow stuff ended up being the fatty tissues in the patient. I had no idea what was going on and all I was hearing in the back of my mind was the anesthesiologist explaining to me what she does, but I was to much in awe looking at the inside of an actual human being to pay too much attention.
I was handling everything just fine. The only thing that started to bother me was when Dr. Hardin put on the cartarizer. It’s a tool that beeps whenever it’s on and burns away tissue minor bleeding. The sound reminded me of the game operation. It was like I was watching my opponent trying to pull out the object without touching the sides. The smell of the burning tissue bothered because it smelled like cooking meat, since I have been a vegetarian for a year it was hard for me to stand it. I sat down on my stool telling myself I didn’t want to see anymore at the moment. Dr. Hardin asked me if I was doing alright, I responded with what I thought was “Yeah I’m alright,” but ended up being a “mhmmm” with my eyes as big as bowling balls. During the rest of the surgery, I asked questions to Dr. Hardin and the anesthesiologist about what was going on while I stared at the surgery in awe.
When the surgery was over, we stepped out right when the patient started to wake up. This freaked me out the most. It freaked me out because during the surgery I never really noticed I was looking at the inside of an actual human being. It’s so mind blowing to see how almost identical we all are on the inside but each of us are so complicated on the outside. For the next twenty minutes, while my mentor did her notes about the procedure, I just sat there with my mind racing with so many thoughts. I was trying to comprehend everything I just witnessed, I felt like my views on everything just changed, but I couldn’t put it in words yet. She kept asking if I was how I was doing, which reassured me that she was there if I needed anything. I just couldn’t find any words to explain how astonishing everything was that I had just experienced.
The next week whenever we went into surgery my big wide eyes never disappeared. I think they got the biggest when I saw the heart and lungs during a procedure. As I saw more and more surgeries I would start watching Dr. Hardin operate. Dr. Hardin started to become an idol figure to me. Things started to make sense in my head on how surgeons and doctors kind of a higher power our society. Simply because they have a godly aura to them. There the only ones who have enough knowledge to know if this person can survive or not. I started to gravitate more towards surgery. By the third week of internship, I was almost positive that in the back of my mind I changed my interest into wanting to become a surgeon. Either path I choose, medical examiner or surgeon, I’ll be wearing that white coat with stitched name and stethoscope in my pocket.