Widget

My preference in surgical cases was for orthopedics, hand surgery, and plastic surgery. But Miss Piggy, our OR supervisor, would tell you in strong terms that it was her job to run an OR, not to cater to a technician’s foibles. So, I’d trot off to bronchoscopies to peer into the inner workings of bronchioles.
Miss Piggy ( her own choice of nickname) did not tolerate haughty surgeons any more than she put up with my requests for certain types of procedures. As much as possible, she nourished her staff, the surgeons, and the anesthesia team. But she had no qualms about chopping a head off for the sake of good order and discipline.
An Operating Room always is in the process of evolving in terms of equipment and procedures. Surgeons arrive with unique new widgets that make a procedure easier. They ask the OR supervisor to procure three of them for their personal use. Since the gadget is expensive, and Dr. Callahan is the only one interested in using it, only one is procured.
The device proves challenging to clean and sterilize, and technicians receive inadequate training in setting it up. Result? Dr. Callahan has a temper tantrum in front of the entire surgical team and the still awake patient.
Hearing the scrimmage in one of her operating rooms, Miss Piggy descends on the unsuspecting surgeon and staff. Calling for calm, she asks Dr. Callahan into the tiny scrub room that contains the sinks we wash up in before gowning and gloving for a procedure. Unlike in movies, the ones in our surgical suite are tiny – there is barely room for the bulk of Dr. Callahan and the heft of Miss Piggy. The voices start as a murmur that swells to a rumble. There is a staccato drumbeat of threats from the surgeon, followed by the low thunder of Miss Piggy’s explanation of exactly how it will be. Finally, Miss Piggy silently leaves through the door into the next room. A moment afterward, Dr. Callahan emerges and begins explaining the setup and function of the widget. His enthusiasm gradually spreads to the rest of the team. After the procedure, Dr. Callahan mentions that he will contact the manufacturer’s rep and have them come out for more training.
After the caseload has been completed, the staff sit down for a fast debrief on the day before heading home. The blow-up in room three hardly merits a sentence. Just another day in the OR. Today it was Dr. Callahan taken to task for poor preparation. But It could have been my friends Marilyn, Rob – or myself. Miss Piggy is an equal opportunity head chopper. Her favorite procedure is decapitation – performed with flair, a touch of dignity, and forgiveness afterward provided that you ” go forth and sin no more.”

2 Replies to “Widget”

    1. I described her exactly as I remember her. She was a fantastic boss, one of the best I ever had, and I’d be pleased to wind up in any OR she was running because I’d know that I’d get the best of care.

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