One of the companies I work with makes the lenses that are used by eye doctors and eye surgeons for exams and surgery. They’ve developed a new piece of equipment, basically a lens holding and positioning device, that they wanted me to come and take some photos of. I floated the idea of getting some shots of the equipment “in use” as these photos are much more illustrative and interesting than a plain lens or hunk of metal sitting on a backdrop.
Notice the quotes around “in use” as we typically fake up these shots so that it looks like equipment is being used but not really (Stand there, pretend like you’re pushing that button and thinking really hard about water treatment…). Basically what I wanted was an OR with an operating microscope we could attach the equipment to and someone in a scrub top to lean in over a “patient” on the table.
So I got up to Cleveland and found out that we had been set up to observe an actual surgery. You have to understand that when I get my eye publications (yes, there are fascinating titles out there like Ocular Surgery News, Ophthalmology Management and EyeWorld), I flip through them with one hand, while the other is splayed over my eyes, in case I should turn the page and come to a close up of an eyeball with a needle or scalpel sticking out of it (a disturbingly frequent occurrence). I will live with my substandard contact-corrected vision for life as my doctor only got as far as “they make an incision and peel back the flap” in his lasik description when my stomach heaved. (PEEL. a FLAP. In your EYEBALL!) I cover my eyes during the gross parts of ER and Grey’s Anatomy. But all the eye company people were acting like it was no big deal, so I had to sack up and get through it.
After learning that I had never been in an OR before when I wasn’t a patient, my colleague advised me not to go in on an empty stomach. After grabbing a bagel, it was an hour ride up to Youngstown.
So we headed on down to the outpatient surgery center and marched up to the nurses station, encircled by gurneys filled with people waiting for various kinds of procedures; it felt very intrusive to be standing around there with my camera bag (“Hi! Would you like me to take your picture?”).
But then the best part happened. The nurse took us into the back and stopped in front a flat machine against the wall, which read, I shit you not, “Scrub-o-matic.” It was a vending machine–for scrubs! The nurse asked our sizes, and fearing that I be tripping in overly long scrubs if I did a larger size, I optimistically said “Small.” And then she waved a card at the thing, pushed some buttons, opened up a door which had one little compartment open behind it, and pulled out a set of scrubs. I felt like the Jettsons. It sounds a little lame now, I’m not doing it justice, it was hella cool…
Until I started to pull those size small scrubs up over my hips. How embarrassing would it be to go back out there and be all “Um, hey, can we visit the Scrub-o-matic again? I have a fat ass.” Luckily, the top was long enough to cover up the tightness and VPL in the butt/upper thigh area. We added a little shower cap, mask and shoe booties to complete the look.
Then there was a lot of standing and waiting around before the surgery actually began. But even that was exciting as there was some seriously hot gossip in the hospital that day! Apparently, a dental surgery resident had gotten popped selling Oxycontin scrips, and when they came to arrest him at the hospital, he fled! Jailbreak! And there was now a warrant out for his arrest! Every time a new doc or nurse came up to the station it was all “Did you hear? He was such a nice guy. What a waste, his life is over. How’d he get away from the cops? Did he bust through the emergency exit? I heard he was having trouble with his ex-wife and needed money. Etc., etc.,” Just like a TV hospital drama!
And it took my mind off the fact that I would be soon standing in a room with a real live patient about to have his eyeball cut into, and I was supposed to take pictures of it. Every time I let myself think about it, I got a little lightheaded. I just didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of everyone.
Part II, the actual surgery, to come later.