My Super-Gross Surgery

December 19, 2008

This is a post that I was planning on posting a month ago, but got too caught up in school crap. Nothing like break to catch up on the important things…


 A month or so ago, we watched a movie in class of a real-life hip replacement. The camera was all up in the ‘grossness’ and honestly, it was a little nauseating to watch. The worst part was when the surgeon snapped the ball right off the joint and you heard a loud ‘crack’ sound. And then, to add insult to injury (literally), the surgeon then shoved a long rod down into the femur, causing waves of bone marrow and blood to gush out. 


It was awful and gruesome and made my stomach turn.


Real life movies are soo gross


This semester my clinical group took turns spending two nights in the OR. (and we don’t sit in the galley like on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, we jump right in and view the surgery from two feet away). Originally I had been a little skeptical about how I would handle it, but after seeing that movie, I was terrified. But as any nursing student has learned to do, I sucked it up and decided I had to deal with it. I mean, come on… I’ve already had to dissect a cat, then REUSE that cat again the FOLLOWING semester (Mmmm, fresh…) and spend weeks cleaning up elderly people in a nursing home (strangely, this compares to dissecting a cat, except maybe the cat was more fun?). Anyway, I figured that I could suck it up and make it through a few nights in the OR. And so I did…


Weds night the OR was dead. I scrubbed in on the ONLY surgery of the night, a laparoscopic hernia repair.


I was told to sit on a stool and leave the OR if I got ‘woozy’. The stool was uneven on the bottom, so every time I shifted my weight or moved the slightest bit it would tilt to the other side…yay instability… exactly what someone who is feeling ‘woozy’ doesn’t need. And the room was excruciatingly hot. I know I always think it’s hot, but this time it really was. (Donning a mask for 90 mins didn’t help with the heat either). The surgeons and nurses were complaining about how hot it the entire time. So it wasn’t just me.



Laparoscopic Hernia Repair

Laparoscopic Hernia Repair


Anyway, the surgery, although hot and on and unstable stool, was a pleasure to watch. It was ‘clean’ and precise and looked absolutely nothing like the hip replacement movie. The incisions were really small, the abdomen blown up with CO2, and I really don’t think I saw so much as a drop of blood. The whole surgery was visible on what appeared to be Hi-def TV.


They put tubes inside the abdomen, where the Laparoscopic instruments go in. I thought they looked like the thermometer on a Turkey

They put tubes inside the abdomen, where the Laparoscopic instruments go in. I thought they looked like the thermometer on a Turkey


  It was really cool to watch and I had a great time.


The only thing was, I wanted to see more and there were no other cases all night. The nurse told me that Thurs nights were usually busier, and that I would see more tomorrow. I made a hugely embarrassing mistake by asking her if there were any “Kidney Transplants” SCHEDULED for tomorrow, and received a dumbfounded look as she explained that kidney transplants weren’t really scheduled. I was mortified as my own stupidity, shrugged it off and followed my patient to the PACU, hoping to see more action tomorrow.


Thurs morning: I wake up with pink eye. No joke.

 I have no idea where I got it from. I’m really hoping it wasn’t from the surgical nurse’s bathroom, as I would HOPE they washed their hands a lot. But alas, I missed my second night of surgery. I called my professor and begged her to let me go again next week. I desperately wanted to see a kidney transplant or an operation on an infant or something cooler than a hernia repair. She agreed to letting me go the following Thursday. Sweet!


The NEXT Thurs night: I was so ready!


 I was so excited to go back to the OR. I showed up to the OR for assignment after I did a quick 5 minute report on my patient from the previous night. They told me there wasn’t really much going on, and that it had been busier LAST night (of course, my luck), but that she DOES have a HIP REPLACEMENT I can scrub in on.


Here I am thinking, “Are you fuckin kidding me right now? This was the ONE surgery that I was trying to avoid! And seriously, how many fuckin procedures do you think they must do in a hospital any given day?”

So here I am, with odds roughly similiar to being struck by lightening, with all but one second to make a decision…

Read On….

So I follow the nurse to the OR room where the surgery is taking place (what else could i really do? I wasn’t about to say “no”). It’s busy and filled with surgeons, nurses, and several others. They ask me to wait in the Sub-Sterile room until they are done setting up. No problems there, being I had absolutely no desire to be in the actual OR at all for this. Watching from the window was fine for me!



See the guy with the Mallet/Hammer? How's THAT gonna feel in the morning?


The surgeon comes into the sub-sterile room to scrub in and he’s really nice. Then another guy, I was presuming a surgeon, came in and introduced himself. He was being nice to me (a lil too nice?), and I quickly realized he wasn’t a surgeon; so I assumed maybe a circulating nurse. Awesome, Someone who could fill me in on what’s going on, without speaking down to me. So I ask him what he does, and he says that he’s a salesman. I laugh, instinctively. You know, haha, you’re obviously not a salesman in the OR. He doesn’t laugh with me. Instead, he goes on for about 15 mins about how he sells, no joke, surgical implants, and how much money he makes.
 I feel hoodwinked. I’m looking for medical education from someone on my level and instead I’m being hit on by a weirdo salesman in the OR who sells surgical parts. Fuckin great.



"Would you like to buy my ball and socket? Come on... i'll let you touch it..."



 So finally weirdo salesman, who at this point is arguing with the ‘also cocky anesthesiologist’ about who makes more (come on, the anesthesiologist starts at like $200k… do you really believe you make MORE than him?!?) leaves the room. Ok. Whew. Surgery is about to begin. I’m actually a lil relieved.


By now I realize that, other than the OR and circulating nurse, I am in an OR surrounded by some of the cockiest men in NJ. All young, cocky pricks. Except for the middle-aged surgeon… he was really cool.


The surgery was nothing like the laparoscopic hernia repair. From the first incision, this surgery was bloody. I watched for maybe an hour from the sub-sterile room window, which was about 4-6 feet away from the table. I didn’t want to be closer. I heard the bones snap when they dislocated the hip, but I was lucky enough to NOT hear the hip ball being broken off. I saw the blood spilling down the table, and pieces of flesh flying out of the open wound. It was like watching a pack on lions tear apart a gazelle.



It was like watching a pack on lions tear apart a gazelle.


 I know you’re probably thinking I am overexagerating this some… but I assure you, I cannot even come near to explaining the horrors of this surgery. There was so much blood coming out of this person’s body that it was actually dripping down the sterile clothes on the table right to the floor. In puddles. PUDDLES. The surgeon looked like on of those scary halloween costumes of the evil surgeon, covered in what i pressume is usually ketchup or some sort of food coloring. Except this was real. The blood was slowly spreading down his scrubs and onto his bootie covered shoes.


Everything sterile blue was slowly turning deep red.

Now, don’ take this the wrong way… I’m not writing this blog to scare you. I’m just writing this to tell the story of my experience. The surgery was not a “round-of-the-mill” hip replacement. It was complicated because of other fractures and what-not. The “normal” hip surgery lasts an hour or so. This one started at 5:30pm and I left at 10:30pm, when they were just starting to close up. They went through 5 units of blood– a hugely abnormal amount…



I don't even know what this IS, but it looks similiar to the hip opened up-- except it's missing all the fresh blood and flying flesh pieces...


But, If you were to ask me if I would ever get a hip replacement… I mean EVER…. I’ have to say “Hell NO!”


 I got some of my pictures for this blog from “The Image of Surgery” website. It’s artistic views of surgery, and really neat to look at. I highly recommend you check it out.





  1. That sounds horrible. This makes me a little nervous to start nursing school in the fall, but I think my biggest hurtle will be getting over my fear of dead bodies. Too many late night zombie movies have scarred me for life.

    • Hahaha. I have yet to see an actual dead body, tho my first week of clinicals in nursing 1 was at a nursing home, and we were like an hr late missing this lady die. My prof wanted us to see her, but the staff wouldn’t let us. (close call). The coroner was called, and he came looking like some sort of creature of the night.. Pale, big black trenchcoat, and a black hat. He was WAY creepier than the dead woman, whom they rolled out draped (never DID get to see her).
      I’ve also heard that in some hospitals they put the bodies of the deceased in a special “bed”, that actually hosts a “Trap” compartment underneith for the bodies (so you don’t see dead bodies rolling down the hall, but instead see an empty bed).
      I don’t know if it’s true, but i have yet to see a dead body rolled down the halls of the hospital…..

      makes you wonder….

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