Lift me

September 2, 2008 § 5 Comments

Now and then, while waiting for an operation to start, I’m asked to help with the preparations. Nurses rush back and forth, and the schedule is tight, so a couple of idle hands are useful. I’m not trained in OR procedures, but over the years I’ve seen enough to know roughly what to do. I know how to open a sterile package, tie a gown and stuff like that. Today I was asked to help move the patient.

I normally arrive at the operating ward about 20 minutes before the operation starts. I clean and disinfect my camera equipment, and when the patient is asleep and draped I roll my tools into the OR and get ready. Peering through the window of the OR to see how the preparations was going today, I saw one of the nurses signalling at me to get in there ASAP. She had a concerned look on her masked face.

“You gotta help us turn the patient over to the prone position,” she said. “Sure,” I said. “Just tell me what to do.” She placed me next to the operating table and told me to keep a small slide sheet covering the patient in place, for the moment. My mind drifted back to when I attended nursing school over ten years ago. We had practiced several basic nursing procedures like sponge washing a patient in bed, mouth hygiene etc. for a few of months and it was time for the exam. We each drew a task to be examined in. I got “Moving the patient”. I passed. Two months later I dropped out of nursing school.

Now I was moving again. It’s a strange thing to lift and turn a naked, sleeping person. When you agree to surgery you put your trust in a surgeon to operate on your body. But you also put your trust in a team of nurses to treat you with respect and handle you while you’re unconscious, naked and defenseless. I appreciated that trust as we lifted the patient up and turned him around, using the slide sheet. I felt the responsibility. I’m glad I was just lifting and not operating.

(image credit).

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