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Thursday, June 7, 2012
Humor in the Hospital
Hospitals are funny. And humor is healing too. This is one of the signs on one of the doors of a patient room on post-partum. We OB anesthesiologists had taken it over. Why? Because there had been a flood in the call room suites in the basement that winter. I had been in the call room at the time, and silly me, had thought, well, the doctor's dining room next door, and Medical Records are flooded, but not the call room!
Water seeks it's own level! Duh!
As the water came in under the door, as deep as my ankles, I had the sense to raise the computer up on a chair, and grab my stuff. I think I still have picture of my scrub pants with the water line. Good thing I wear clogs! LOL
Humor is important in medicine. There are many different types of humor. Some is just plain folk wisdom, helping to teach people and foster the team spirit.
Last night I was talking to my cousin, who is a stuntwoman. She was going to play a red-headed doctor who was nodding off behind the wheel at night in some R-rated made-for-T.V. movie that I would never watch anyway because she dozes off and plows into a bunch of people. I had to make sure they were computer generated ones, and not stunt people, getting hit by the car.
We laughed because as I was coming out of surgery on Tuesday, I was pretty loopy. My crazy uncle, her father, and my sister had been there. The dilaudid was working, and I kept announcing, 'I am going to go to sleep now!'. then I would pass out for about thirty seconds, and repeat the whole thing over again. I made my cousin laugh by mentioning using me as research for her part in the movie!
She didn't know that we laugh in the hospital. All the time. I shared with her one of the old ones I first leaned in the O.R.: all bleeding stops eventually.
She thought that was funny. It took her a while to get it, but she laughed and laughed! It does. Most certainly. We either fix the problem, or the problem wins.
Variations of that are, 'What this patient needs is cold, hard steel' (an operation).
In Trauma Surgery, 'The life you save may one day live to take your own'.
Surgeons and Internal Medicine doctors have a rivalry. Surgeons say, 'we do everything an Internal Medicine Doctor does PLUS we operate!'. Internal Medicine thinks they are smarter. For example, many anesthesiologists have taken internships in Internal Medicine before starting their Anesthesia Residency Training. They call the ether screen (the part of the drape that folds up by the head of the patient during surgery) the 'Blood Brain Barrier'. We are on the 'Brain Side'. ; )
Well, Surgeons don't take that lightly. If you look, you will never see one wearing a stethoscope around the neck like they do on T.V. Real surgeons would never do that. They keep it in their pocket. Why? Because surgeons like to refer to the stethoscope around the neck as a 'Flea Collar'. You may ask, 'Why in the world would they call it a Flea Collar?'. Because fleas are the last thing to leave a dying dog.
Think about it. And let me know when you get it. If you do. I bet George Takei would get it! LOL
My humor has its own place in the bedside. I go around to check the day after my inpatients have major surgery. One of the things I do in pre-op that usually upsets them, is I examine their teeth. I document the condition of everything, where a cap or a veneer or implant is, and caution them because, 'In surgery you never know. If I have to choose between keeping your getting oxygen and your teeth, I am choosing oxygen' (usually I don't put it that way, but they understand that things can sometimes happen, and loose teeth and prosthetic teeth aren't as strong as native ones in good repair.)
When I visit them the next day, I act all surprised that we didn't knock any of their teeth out. "Man, we were SO lucky weren't we?' They get the giggles all the time. Partially because I had the ability to knock them out in the first place, 'You...you...the LAST thing I remember was you telling me you were going to give me a little margarita in my i.v.!!!' and that I got them through all right, with no nausea and no pain in the first place. And all their teeth intact and their voice not hoarse or anything.
Anesthesia is a blessed thing. It truly is. I didn't want to remember the inside of the O.R. when I went for my robotic laparoscopic surgery. And mercifully, I did not recall the inside of the O.R. or transferring over in the first place from my pre-op gurney to the Operating Room Table. (It would have been lumpy, there was a bean bag on it for positioning in the steep trendelenberg position for the case.). Anyways, I had my best friend in there with me. She was doing Chinese Acupressure on me as I went to sleep. I asked her if I said anything funny. She said when I woke up I couldn't believe how quick the surgery had been, and I was happy and smiling. 'Sweet as your usual self" she smiled and said. My anesthesiologist had done anesthesia for other members of my family. He is a friend. He came in just for me that day, on his birthday. I am so lucky to have had all the members of my team that worked on me. They protected my privacy and helped me very much.
Sometimes we have a problem that needs surgery. I can't wait to share more about the many opportunities I had for Reiki in my recovery, and in the hospital as a whole. This new energy medicine/Reiki combination is going to be GREAT! We have so much work to do on this together.