Spending long days together in tiny operating rooms, completing multiple surgical procedures, my colleagues and I took care of our patients, and each other.
We didn’t have Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, but we knew each other well anyway. News of family accomplishments and hardship, pregnancies, home purchases, vacations and restaurant experiences was absorbed as easily as breathing. We cheered the good, and commiserated the sad, fostering closeness, a bond.
To accomplish our work, we had to be physically close. We positioned ourselves in much proximity, tying each others surgical gowns, leaning into torsos while assisting at the sterile field, reaching around bodies and legs to connect equipment, nullifying any possibility of personal space.
We provided intimate care that could only be acceptable in our setting. Scrubbed in, unable to touch one’s face, that face will almost certainly start to itch. When a masked and gowned person came towards me, head extended, I knew to offer my shoulder or back so a nose, chin, forehead could be rubbed on me, conquering the itch.
A surgeon with a heavy cold once needed specific help. Removing his mask, holding my gloved and tissue laden hand to his nose, I encouraged him to blow, performing a task I thought I was finished with when my son turned 6.
I was a second assistant on one case, holding instruments, so the surgeon and first assistant could efficiently operate.
In this instance though, the first assistant was a surgeon being monitored because of his poor technique and bad outcomes.
Things weren’t going well. The chief surgeon was angry to the point of rage, but couldn’t bring himself to chastise the inept surgeon he was monitoring. He could, however, blame me. So he did.
Trapped, miserable and silent during the endless procedure, tears slipped into my mask and snot from my runny nose dripped into my mouth.
My colleagues comforted me, rubbing my ankle in the guise of adjusting a foot pedal, giving me eye-rolling smiles, miming shooting the surgeon (just kidding, I’m sure), making the situation more bearable. Making me feel cared for.
I think of healthcare workers all over the world, working in difficult circumstances during the pandemic. Masked, gowned, gloved and goggled. Tired and stressed. Worried about their patients and their own families.
I know they’re caring for their colleagues in ways large and small.
I know they are.
I know that bond.
In the late 90’s, the ones in the last century, I mentioned Google to a friend who had not yet heard the word. Google went on to become a household name and to this day my friend thinks I’m a technology genius as if I had something to do with that.
I’ve already mentioned my love of technology in previous posts, so it will come as no surprise that I’m a fan of Google.
While volunteering to help patrons at the public library with computer issues, I use Google to solve problems I’m unfamiliar with. Just typing “How can I” and the problem often gives me the answer I need, while making me look as if I know what I’m doing.
Searching for something good to watch during quarantine? Type “Best on Netflix now”, and lots of options appear.
Hours that a business is open? If a business is open? Google.
Want to settle a bet? Google. Trying to identify a rash? Google.
Wondering about the side effects of a medication? You know what to do.
Recently I ventured out to shop. These days, similar to many of us I’m sure, my wish is to get in, get out and get home, with as little interaction with others as possible.
After completing my shopping, I found myself in my car, wanting to drive home but unable to do so. For no apparent reason, the ignition was locked, something that had happened once before in the distant past.
I had a feeling turning the steering wheel would unlock the ignition, so I tried turning the wheel to the right. Nope. To the left. Didn’t work. The steering wheel itself was locked, and the key simply would not turn.
I sat back and thought about it. What was I missing?
Was I going to have to call AARP Road and Tow for this ridiculous reason?
No, I was not, because I was going to call Google.
I grabbed my phone and typed in “locked ignition rav4” and the answer came back immediately.
Turn the steering wheel to the right while at the same time turning the key in the ignition.
It worked instantly. The steering wheel and ignition unlocked smoothly and I was soon ready to be on my way.
Before I drove off, I decided to make a note of my experience in case I ever wanted to write about it. My phone was next to me on the seat, so I simply said “Hey Siri” and dictated what I wanted the note to say. When I was done, Siri confirmed my request. Almost automatically, I thanked Siri, who said, “You’re welcome, Terri”.
I LOL'd, because just for a moment, Google and Siri and I seemed almost like friends, working together, solving problems, getting things done, no social distancing necessary.
And then I shook my head and drove home.