Friday, March 17, 2017

Gross Room

8:15 a.m. - a phone rings in my office from the gross room PA.

"OB surgeon wants to do a frozen on a cervical cone. It's a tiny specimen, I could probably get it all on one slide. But freezing a cervical cone? What do you want me to do?"

"You are right, that's weird. I'll call the OB. What OR is she in?"

"OR 6."

"OB? Can you please tell me why we are freezing a cone?"

"I'm so sorry, I should have called you. I know this is unusual. I'm giving her a hysterectomy. I just need to know if there is cancer or not. It will change what I do."

She detailed the history, the previous procedures, and the decision making process that carried her to this point. She's an amazing surgeon.

"No problem, we are happy to do it."

I wander slowly to the gross room. It will take 15 minutes or so to freeze an entire cervical cone. I lament on the way there to a phlebotomist about the current construction that necessitates double the amount of walking. The worst of which is part of the way involves the main entrance hallway, where it is easy to get stuck behind patients or generally slow general visitor population. He empathizes with me, and tells me he hears it will be about three more weeks before the back way opens up again. At least I don't have to push a cart like he does, I think.

I finally enter the gross room full of five P.A.'s and look up at Jessica. "Oh! You look fantastic. I love your glittery hat and your shirt. I knew it was St. Patrick's Day all week, but I forgot this morning. Thank goodness Baptist Hospital color is green. It's on my name tag, my only green in my outfit. Your hat is amazing - love how it contrasts with your strawberry blond hair."

"Thank you! See - it says I'm a wee bit Irish. And it's a wee little hat. I found it at Kroger last week. No forgetting in my family - it's a National Holiday. In fact, I really should be carrying around a pint of Guinness all day long."

"Can I give you permission to do that? If so, I'll grant it." I move in closer to Jess and Laurie.  

"Look at this ring I got in Chinatown! Five bucks. I love the vintage look. I've been wearing it all week, and it hasn't turned my finger green yet - I take that as a good sign. I've never worn more than one ring on my ten fingers, I'm kind of liking it."

Jessica replied, "When I met Houston I wore a ring on every finger. I was crazy flashy. Now I only wear my wedding one."

"It's beautiful. Y'all did good. And I almost forgot to show you my new Swatch watch! Brand new series."

Laurie asked, "Do they still make Swatch?"

"There was a whole store!! The kids weren't very interested, so other mom took them to the next stop. I was there over a half hour, trying on every watch that fancied me. This glittery band series, it's super lightweight, had three colors - gold, silver, and rose gold. I was drawn to the rose gold, but when I put it on it disappeared. Seems my skin is rose gold."

"But that would have been kind of cool!" cried Jessica. "It would have looked like the watch was growing out of your skin."

"Yes and no. I chose the silver. Nice contrast."

Laurie looked up from the uterus she was grossing. "I had the Swatch with the white band and the red, blue, and yellow face. I loved that Swatch."

I looked at her incredulously. "That was my Swatch. I had the same one. I loved how when I got tan in the summer the white band contrasted with my skin like a beacon. You could have seen it from miles away."

Laurie and Jessica both laughed. Laurie is a dark haired alabaster skinned beauty, and Jessica is a pale fiery Irish redhead. Jessica said, "The one time I tried to tan I ended up in the ER with severe burns." Laurie concurred, "Tanning is not something I'm good at."

Steve H. interrupted our reminiscing. "Frozen is ready."

"Oh thanks. Man, wow. This is amazing. It looks like an H&E. You got great mucosa on every slice. It's clean as a whistle. No cancer. I'll call the OB."

The sigh of relief was palpable over the OR phone. "Thank you so much. I'll proceed now."


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