“And THAT, kids, is why you never slouch to suture.”

The other night, during an emergency C-section, I was first assist on the case.  (To answer the question “why?” I point you towards the “emergency” part.

And to answer the question “that’s no excuse – WHY?”  – well, believe me, I told the surgeon to call the on-call PA.  I can’t assist worth crap – I can barely retract without somehow managing to obstruct the field.  But when I told the obstetrician this, his face assumed the “CHALLENGE: ACCEPTED” expression that generally indicates we’re all screwed.)

This doctor is, by the way, a legend here – the kind of guy who overhears you confessing that you are totally inept at suturing despite all of your best efforts, and proceeds to hand you the needle-driver and make you suture every single abdominal layer closed – just patiently watching and helping even though you’re making the case last twice as long, so the anesthesiologist, patient, and nurses all want to kill you.

… err, hypothetically.

So there I am, trying to suture a horizontal mattress layer without looking like too much of a drugged-up monkey, and I keep leaning over the field to see what I’m doing.

“Straighten up.  There is no hunching in surgery.”

Every time he said this, I would immediately straighten up.  But I was concentrating so hard on the stitches that I would inevitably find myself hunched over again.

Finally, he asked for a pair of suture scissors, and held them out, pointy-end right below my face.

“This is not meant to obstruct your field; merely to discourage that posture.”

Aaaaand so I finished suturing while staring down a pair of pointy scissors.

To me, the moral of this story is “3rd year is awesome”.  But I must not be telling said story right – because when other people have heard it, they think “3rd year is scary as hell.”  And maybe it’s the Lexapro talking – but I’m pretty sure I’m right.

When someone is pointing scissors at your face, you can either choose to take offense (“This would never happen in an office job!“), or you can see the humor in the guy’s reckless crazy.  And I’m a complainer by nature – I love nothing more than a really good angry rant – but c’mon.

One choice involves wishing for a world where everyone does things exactly by the book, with no surprise whatsoever.  The other makes for better stories.

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10 thoughts on ““And THAT, kids, is why you never slouch to suture.”

  1. This story is a beauty. I love this — “His face assumed the “CHALLENGE: ACCEPTED” expression that generally indicates we’re all screwed.”

  2. This is totally awesome. I agree with you, the story is awesome, the attending is crazy (and we all need a little crazy from time to time), and you totally kicked ass!!! 🙂 Congrats!

  3. Slouching is never okay! You could end up with thoracic outlet syndrome like me. Well. Probably not, since it’s super rare. But I had no idea that there was no slouching in surgery. I automatically ruled out surgery because I figured I wouldn’t be able to do it without slouching.

  4. Loving the posts about your clinical experiences AP. Especially the ones about OB/GYN (totally biased, and living vicariously through your words, thanks for sharing!).

    P.S. I am also a total surgery sloucher. No one has pointed scissors at my face yet, just the occasional, gentle throat clearing when I’m about to actually fall in to the surgical field. If I get into a residency out side of the small-town Midwest I am probably screwed.

    P.P.S. I think third year/working in medicine is scary as hell. But that’s an essential part of what makes it so awesome. 🙂

  5. I got yelled at for the same thing on my anesthesia electives – I was told I’d throw my back out if I slouched and pulled up.

    No pointy things at my face though, so I’d say you’ve got me beat there.

  6. it reminds me of the ‘you can’t leave the table until you finish all your vegetables’ kind of mentality. sounds like a great attending. congrats!!

  7. I wish my senior on surgery had done that. He just threatened to take the needle driver away from me – which was equally effective … in fact, maybe moreso … I think I wouldn’t have been as afraid of the old scissors-to-the face as I was of having to relinquish the needle driver -TS

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