1. If you aren’t in scrubs, we don’t want to see you come into the OR. We don’t like strangers; they scare us. We are extremely protective of our environment because sterile procedures are conducted in every operating room and your presence brings new strange germs that we don’t care for, so go back to your own department and leave us to be happy in our own familiar germs. If you feel like you’ve stepped into the territory of Appalachian mountain folks when you enter the OR, and all eyes are on you, you’re probably right!
2. Many of us sleep in our scrubs. No, not the same ones we worked in, but we enjoy the comfort our scrubs offer us, and we really don’t care if they’re sexy or cute, we feel at home in them.
3. We practice sterile technique at home. When we open a 2 liter of coke, we place the lid down upside down. We scrub our hands before we cook like we’re about to assist with surgery. Our countertops are spotless, and our dishes are darn-near sterile.
4. We will hate you for life if you dare reach over our food while we’re eating, (it’s the germ thing again). Which is why we have a problem eating out. The waitresses love to reach over food, and all we can think about is all the germs she is transferring to our meal. If you want to call us phobic, then the shoe fits. Buffet style restaurants blow our minds. There’s no way you’ll drag an OR nurse into one of these Petri dishes. People grabbing the same spoons over and over, coughing over the food and there’s that problem of reaching over food again. Yuck, just yuck!
5. I guess you could say we’re pretty weird about our shoes too. We don’t want our shoes in the house, and I usually leave mine at work. If we do bring them home, they stay in the garage. There are so many nasty germs on shoes that we can’t see, and you have no idea what kind of horrific nastiness we get into during a shift. If you did know you probably wouldn’t even want to touch us again.
6. OR nurses probably have the cleanest belly buttons in the world. Why? Well, part of our job is to clean navels prior to surgery. Many surgical procedures are performed laparoscopically, and the device used to inflate the abdomen is introduced through the navel. So, if the navel isn’t clean, all those nasty germs go right into the abdomen creating a great environment for infection.
You wouldn’t believe the things I’ve found in patient’s belly buttons. People may shower and bathe, but they lost the memo about cleaning this area. Please, folks, clean your belly buttons already.
7. We talk with our eyes. This may seem a bit weird to you, but we spend most of our shift with a mask covering our faces, so our eyes are the only way we can express ourselves. Most OR nurses learn to use their eyes to convey messages to other members of the surgical team. This practice runs over to our everyday life. Even when we don’t have masks on we express our feelings and opinions with our eyes, (and our eyebrows).
8. Ask us for a screwdriver or a pair of scissors and expect to get them slapped into your hand in a position that is optimal for immediate use without readjustment. We have learned to pass instruments that way, and it carries over to everyday life.
Here’s a bonus “weird things that you never knew about surgical nurses,” although this one is pretty guessable even by a lay person. We love blood and for the life of us, we can’t really figure out why anyone would pass out with the sight of it. The bloodier the case, the better. A good deep abdominal case that we can get our hands stuck into is our idea of fun.
When I have blood drawn, I watch the needle go in instead of turning my head away, and I love to watch the blood pouring into the vial. I wonder what Freud would say about this? Maybe we were all vampires in past lives. There’s no room for people who “dislike the sight of blood” in the OR. Be gone and let us roll in our weirdness.
Love us our hate us, we only want the best for our patients and the weirdness we have can always be explained. They say once an OR nurse, always an OR nurse, and I can certainly say this is true. You can call us weird, but I guarantee you that the minute you need emergency surgery, you’ll be glad weird surgical nurses exist!