For those of you who think I work in a hospital and office that resemble the Magic Kingdom at Disney, where everyone is cheerful and smiling, 24/7, I thought I’d share what happened today.
I walked into the pre-op area on schedule to speak to my patient before we began surgery. The nurse looked up in surprise.
“Wait! We got a message that you were running 20 minutes late!”
I stopped walking, looked at her and said, “Well, I don’t know who is spreading that rumor, but here I am. Let’s roll!”
Needless to say, after pushing my start time to the back burner, it took them every bit of those 20 minutes to get back to business. Grrrrr.
After a slow start out of the gate, we proceeded, feeling a bit behind from the get go. Finally, as I began my last case, my team and I were back in gear.
Or so I thought.
I was in the middle of the surgery when I noticed the patient’s bed was slowly sinking, (i.e., it was losing its hydraulics). Every 5 to 10 minutes (seriously!), I had to ask the nurse or anesthesiologist to pump up the bed manually. Otherwise, we would have been sitting on the floor doing the case.
Three months ago, I had been given this same wacky bed. I had called the supervisor, and she tagged it and sent it off for repairs. My team and I added a secret label on it ourselves that said: “Do not give this bed to Dr. Fitch!”
Well, guess what tag was still on that bed? Yep. Unbelievable.
So, there I stood, fuming, in the O.R. in the middle of a procedure with the incredible sinking bed.
I called in the supervisor for a second time and told her in the calmest voice I could manage that the bad bed was ba-a-a-a-ck.
When she assured me she’d take care of it, I told her I felt I was having a “deja vu” moment. The room got quiet.
There was still 30 minutes of surgery to go. It was time to choose: Lose my marbles and get huffy, or start humming (as is my habit when I am irritated or stressed and don’t want to show it)?
Then, I remembered a great story that I had wanted to share with my staff: Just last week, I had met the son of a wonderful mentor from 25 years ago.
I told him about a case his dad and I had shared years ago. I was amazed that he knew all about it, and had even met the patient.
I have no idea what made me think of that case in that moment. But, that story lightened the mood in the O.R. for the remainder of the case.
My team and I talked about the story and I was able to shift my focus from the sinking bed to something more positive.
When the case was over, I looked up at the anesthesiologist with a smile. “Now, That’s how you love medicine again!” I said.
Sometimes, all it takes is a change of focus to transform a frustrating situation into a fun one.