Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My List: A Cure for Idle Doctor Chatter

There was a front page article in the Vancouver Sun last Friday about how surgeons have been told not to chatter during surgery. A complaint was launched by a patient who felt that when his surgeon talked with the scrub nurses about hockey during his operation, there was a chance that the doctor could have become distracted, lost focus, and made a mistake. Now all BC Surgeons have been warned to cut it out. (Pun intended). In what was dubbed a “useful, important reminder with a proactive message”, they have been warned by the College of Physicians and Surgeons to stay away not only from the topic of hockey, but also to avoid other subjects that could potentially upset patients.

I don’t get it. Let it go, dude. Surgery in a hospital is one of the few times in our lives where we truly must relinquish control and trust our surgeon. When the operation day comes, we are stripped down to nothing but a thin, backless gown and groovy hairnet, anaesthetized, and put in a room full of relative strangers who can do with us as they please. Why do we do this? Because these surgeon people are quite smart and skilled. They have a lot of schooling and have been carefully vetted by their peers before they start slicing and dicing. And there’s a ton of people in the operating room, so aren’t they going to keep each other on track? In my experience surgeons generally have a good sense of responsibility anyway, and probably won’t engage in a quick iphone game of angry birds, mid-operation, just for kicks.

That said, you never know, so I’ve decided on a list of conversational demands should I ever be in the position to have surgery again. (Cross your fingers for me that that will NEVER have to happen.) Of course it’s highly unlikely that I would even be aware of what was being discussed during surgery, but just in case, I’ve got my list made as a “useful important reminder” for my surgeon. Here it is:

Things That Can Be Discussed:

- the symmetricalness of the earring holes in my earlobes (or any other positive physical traits they may discern)
- Soccer (I like soccer. Had you noticed?)
- How cute/smart/polite my kids are
- how tragic it is that someone with as bright and sweet a disposition as mine has to be cut into this way. Sympathy tears by the surgeon are also permitted, providing that they don’t seep into the incision area and cause infection.
- How smooth my legs are
- The TV Show Modern Family. That thing is hilarious!
- The operation, I guess

Things That Cannot Be Discussed:

- Jokes about throwing in some much-needed liposuction during the surgery as some kind of 2-in-1 combo deal.
- Charlie Sheen. (He is really just so over.)
- Anything about golf (yawn.)
- Clowns (self explanatory.)
- Whether or not my boobs are real or fake. (Hold on--wait--forget it. I’m moving this to the “Can Be Discussed” category instead, since if people are questioning it, it usually means your boobs are too good to be true, right?)
- Hockey (kidding. But can I stipulate that it be playoff hockey? So much more exciting. Go Canucks!)
- How stubbly my legs are (it all depends on what time I woke up that morning, you see.)

Also, my sister once told me that chewing gum during tests helps you to concentrate better, so I would also like to stipulate that my surgeon chew gum, just to make sure I’m getting him or her in top form. (But not that crappy cinnamon flavoured gum. That stuff is just gross. Peppermint only.)

See? Useful. Proactive. You should make a list too. (And, you can use it for the plumber as well, when they come over to fix the pipes under your kitchen sink- just to make sure they don’t get distracted.)

Oh, and I forgot one thing. I want my surgery for free. Oh I get that already? Right. Sweet.


  1. How about the importance of consistent capitalization in lists? (Or (for example) can they debate the relative merits of dependence on italicization, nested parentheses and ellipses...)

    (why does your funny writing always bring out the snark in me??)

  2. Meg! You could win a snarky contest! There are, for once, no nested parentheses or ellipses in this post. aNd WHat IS wrONg wITh mY cApITaliZATion?

    Dependence on italicization-- okay, you win.

  3. I posted a super long (winded) thing on this from my phone but the image didn't display correctly (to prove I was a human) and when I clicked back, it was all gone :(

    anyhow my post was basically that I disagreed with you. Any/Everytime I'm in surgery I want NO ONE IN THERE talking about ANYTHING that doesn't affect the surgery. eyes on the prize.

    just because some dork barely graduates his class and FINALLY gets a job somewhere, I don't need him thinking of some concert/ golf ticket thing while he has to surgerize

    and all organizations, while on the surface are there to police their industry and members, most of the time they're just there to protect them. Incompetence usually gets hidden and covered, not outed and reprimanded.