This case started like many others, and by this I mean I spent a lot of time standing around amid the organized chaos that goes on before each and every operation, doing the Medical Student Shuffle* while the nurses set up the operating room in the appropriate fashion and the anesthesiologist intubated and sedated the patient. The attending physician came in, and he decided he wanted to adjust the orientation of the room. Specifically, he wanted the lights rearranged in a very specific way, and he asked me to adjust the position of one of the lights. Easy, right? What follows is a close approximation (to the best of my ability and memory) of the dialogue that subsequently ensued:
Attending: OK so the light is bent the wrong way, you’re going to have to move the whole lever.
[I begin moving it]
Attending: No, that’s wrong…you have to throw it.
Resident 1: Just move it to the left first.
[I adjust my movement of the light and begin pushing it in a different direction]
Nurse: No that’s all wrong.
Resident 2: No, push it the other way.
Attending: Throw it.
Nurse: No, here let me move it.
[Nurse moves in and starts pushing the light in the opposite direction, with my hand still on it.]
Resident 1: Now it’s even worse. You have to move the whole arm and push it the other way. Push it up a little.
Resident 2: Move it the other way.
Attending: You just have to throw it.
Nurse: Let me move it a different way.
[I continue trying to move the light in the position they want]
Resident 1: No, it’s all wrong, now the light is blocking the other light.
Nurse: Oh I guess I did that. Let me help him push it the other way.
Resident 2: Now pull. Pull.
Nurse: OK push it like I said.
Attending: Just throw it.
Resident 1: Move it leftways. Leftways.
Resident 2: OK first move it left, then pull, then-no no not like that!
Nurse: Let me move it more.
[I try a different method to rearrange the light once more]
Nurse: Don’t pull, push.
Resident 2: Pull it!
Resident 1: Now move it up and over the other light.
Resident 2: See you didn’t pull it.
Nurse: Look just push it, OK?
Attending: Throw it.
Resident 1: Wait, this is all wrong.
Attending: THROW IT!
Nurse: Here let me try some more.
Attending: THROW IT!!!
At this point, I grasped the handle firmly, channeled all the strength I could muster (which admittedly isn’t that much), conjured up all the experience I had as the greatest baseball player in the history of my local Maccabi Baseball League (all true), and threw the light apparatus as hard as I could.
It therefore will come as no surprise to you all that it came within 2 centimeters of decapitating the innocent anesthesiologist standing in the light’s way. Everyone then pointed and laughed at me for a long time, the attending came over and moved the light himself, and the surgery proceeded uneventfully.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what being a third year medical student is all about.
*The Medical Student Shuffle is a unique tribal dance that dates back to the first ever operation performed in Ancient Greece thousands of years ago, and has been used by medical students in an OR setting since that time with great success. This dance can be achieved by following a few simple steps, and there is no doubt that it is the key to impressing your superiors (and maybe, just maybe, picking up women at sleazy clubs):
1) Raise your arms up in a “surrender” position
2) Take a few steps back (extra points for adding style to the steps), moving as far away from the action as possible
3) Rest your back firmly against the wall
4) Keep your arms raised, but do not move again until spoken to