A rat sitting on the operating table
A rat sitting on the operating table

Have you ever had something come along in life and snatch your joy away?

While working at a new job in a rural hospital overseas I had a hard time trying to get used to the new scrubs. Instead of a top shirt and bottom pants, it was simply a surgical gown which they explained with the extreme heat you needed a little ventilation. However since I was about a foot taller than everyone else at the hospital even their largest gown only came down to my mid thigh and there was a slit up my leg that almost exposed my underwear so I had much more ventilation than I wanted. The first time I sat down in the doctor’s lounge waiting on a surgery to start I couldn’t decide whether to cross my legs, keep them together or tug my gown down. I was also a little embarrassed as I sensed many in the room were staring at my hairy legs. Among themselves they had never seen such hairy legs and arms before, and I felt conspicuous as there seemed to be a lot showing that I couldn’t cover up. It didn’t help when I caught a whispered comment, “I didn’t understand evolution at school, but I get it now.”

Feeling out of place and trying to hold my gown down I was concerned when I saw a rat run across the lounge into a corner behind a fire extinguisher. Nobody seemed concerned and didn’t stop their smoking or talking. I mentioned to the chief surgeon, “Should we do something?”

He nodded at a medical student who went over there and kicked the extinguisher startling the rat to run into the on-call room so everyone was satisfied.

The chief went on, “You’ve got to watch that rat. He’s a lot of trouble. The other day I was doing an appendectomy and heard a crash on the back table. Looked back, and there was that rat, running away with the appendix flapping in his mouth. It was very embarrassing because you know how we must present to the families the results of our surgery– the gallbladder, stomach, colon, – to prove it was a real surgery. Well, we didn’t have anything to show them and we sure couldn’t explain what had really happened. Pathology was also very unhappy that they didn’t receive a specimen, so keep your eyes out for that rat.”

I did. Every time I heard a loud crash while operating I spun around looking for that rat. It made me jumpy and took away the joy of surgery.