we’re real doctors… O.R. we?

Yes, I’ve already used that pun. Yes, I’m reusing it because that’s the best I can do.

Anyway, this entry has a 79% chance of sucking because I didn’t actually realize it was Sunday until about three hours ago and was not able to plan accordingly (read: I spent the entire afternoon binge-watching questionable reality TV shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race, which I did feel ashamed about but obviously not ashamed enough considering the number of episodes I watched).

I haven’t known what the date was for any day since April/May, and it’s only gotten worse. Now that it’s summer, I can’t even recall what day of the week it is. Or what time of day, considering how no light filters in from our perpetually shut windows.

That makes my house sound like a dungeon, but it’s really not; my seclusion is largely self-imposed.

Surprisingly, though, I haven’t spent the entire week holed up in my room. Tuesday through Friday I was at a medical summer camp, where I experienced many things—some I could have honestly lived my entire life without—such as: shaking hands with a dead pig (actually, just its foot), accidentally mutilating said pig’s foot, encountering a Greek god in the form of a physical therapist, inexplicably finding a bug bite in a place best left unmentioned, chasing a speedy skunk, sitting through ANOTHER drunk driving seminar, and finding myself the butt of a joke in the OR.

OR stands for “Operating Room,” which is where I, along with two other girls, had signed up for our job shadowing activity. The first surgical assistant (our tour guide) had us wait in the halls while he asked if we could come in and observe an operation. He was inside for a long while; only later did we find out that they’d been orchestrating the prank and not actually having tea over the anesthetized patient’s body.

A Play-by-Play

The door opens, releasing a gust of chilly air. Our guide beckons, and we shuffle in, single-file.

Inside, the OR is exactly what I’d pictured it to be: a pristine expanse, the white backdrop occasionally interrupted by towering machinery pulled flush against blank walls. Three important-looking people, clad in dark blue scrubs, are huddled around the cloth-covered gurney. Nothing but an exposed shoulder is visible of the patient underneath.

“Don’t touch anything that’s blue,” another woman milling around the equipment table warns. “That means you don’t want to contaminate it.”

The three of us nod as one and retreat to the back corner. I can’t see anything—the surgeon’s back is obscuring my view and we are five feet away—so I content myself with watching the zigzagging heart monitor and steady flow of red through the long tube that extends past my neon Converse.

A couple minutes later, I catch a movement out of the corner of my eye. It’s slight, but apparently the head surgeon has seen it, too.

His head snaps to the right immediately. “Did you seriously just do that? Tell me you didn’t just do that.”

The guy—we’ll call him Terrified Intern—looks like he’s wet himself. “What?”

“You touched blue!” Head Surgeon is shooting Terrified Intern a downright murderous glare, not even looking at the shoulder he is still sawing into. An impressive feat, albeit a rather terrifying one.

I hadn’t seen Terrified Intern actually touch the table, but I assume he must have because he immediately takes a giant step backward.

“How did you even make it here?” Head Surgeon spits. “It’s already ******* contaminated. Get the **** out. OUT.”

Complete, utter silence.

Then Terrified Intern, without a word, spins on his heel and leaves the room. The door clicks shut behind him, and my mind reels. It can’t be a joke, I realize. No one would do that in front of visiting students.

The woman in the back remarks that Terrified Intern is outside crying. After that, the quiet persists. And, strangely enough, the lack of whispered conversation brings other sounds to the forefront.

I think I hear Beyoncé in the background. No, seriously. I wonder if it might be the soundtrack to my life, but that doesn’t seem a very apt choice, given the tense atmosphere and all.

“Who’re they?” Head Surgeon suddenly barks over his shoulder.

“The students I asked you about earlier,” says the first surgical assistant easily. He looks back at us, grinning. “Y’all look petrified. He’s really not that bad. Most of the time.”

I can’t tell if they’re just trying to play it off as a joke to save face. Cue nervous laughter.

“I think we broke them,” Head Surgeon cracks a wide smile. “Look, they’re not even talking to each other.”

The first surgical assistant chuckles at our confusion. “Come on, he listens to Katy Perry. How mean could he be?” Oh, so I’m not the only one hearing the music.

I concede the validity of that point. “Well, I feel stupid.” The room shares a laugh at my expense.

So that’s what surgeons do while they’re operating on people: prank the unsuspecting youth.


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