In The Operating Room

I thought this might come up in class on Tuesday. Since it didn’t, I thought I’d post about it here.

I’ve always been sensitive to the intensity of certain scenes in books, movies, even training videos. Most people take “sensitive” to mean I get upset easy, or I’m squeamish. And, while I have been brought to tears, once or twice, (damn you, King’s Green Mile!), I think my strongest reaction is what most would call “squeamish.”  Though, to me, it differs a little.

No, I am not a fan of the modern “gore fests” that we now call horror movies. Never was a fan of seeing that which should be on the inside of the body, on the outside. But it isn’t the blood, or the gore, that bothers me. I cook! Death is all present in the kitchen.

It’s the pain. It’s the intensity of the emotions connected with the situation. Ironically, many of the situations, of urgency, have an aspect of medical – life or death – involved.For instance, in high school, I passed out (quietly, unbeknownst to everyone else) at my table while watching “Saving Private Ryan.” The scene that was too much for me involved the medic describing to the men how to give him morphine, how to stop the bleeding, and so on. Sure there was blood and, sure, it was a lot. But I -KNOW- it’s not real. Somehow, though, my brain doesn’t realize the same thing about the emotions, or the urgency of the scene.

I say all of this because even before reading, “In The Operating Room”, I expected that I would need to be on guard. Something about doctors, hospitals, and the things that go on there (needles!) just put me on edge. So, when I got to the third page and started feeling that fuzzy feeling creep up… I was no longer just reading the story but placing myself in it, and trying my hardest not to imagine what it would feel like to have a doctor amputate my leg, during that time period.

I paused for a bit on that third page. I tried to push on, however, and that feeling came back a bit too quickly for my liking. I did not want to pass out, in the foyer of GCC, in public.. at all. Instead, I penned this little reaction, before I decided to go on. I couldn’t get far enough from the scene, couldn’t get away from the reality.

And, it struck me.. of all the things we’ve read, this is the only one to cause such a strong reaction from me. And, not even about the real carnage of what took place on the front lines, the body parts in ambulances, nor the disfigured men that would never be the same.

It’s this scene where the doctors are talking about the patients as if they were just body parts, as if they are lost causes, about blooding spurting through the air that makes me fuzzy and light headed. Weird.

So, how about any of you? Were any of you affected by any of the stories we’ve read enough to cry? Or to stay up late wondering how anyone could withstand those conditions? Anything more than the expected, “Wow, that was rough?”

162 thoughts on “In The Operating Room

  1. I was getting a little teary-eyed in class today when we were talking about how Borden was crying after talking to the blind man and got coffee from the older ones. Scanlon brought up an episode of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood where Mr. Roger said “if someone needs to cry, let them cry.” Part of the reason was probably because I went through a traumatic event a few years ago (and just to be clear, I’m in no way blaming you for bringing up the topic of trauma, Dr. Scanlon), but I was putting myself in Borden’s place. If I treated someone going through the same thing as the blind man and seeing his struggle about feeling alone, I’d be really upset, too. I’d definitely need more than a cup of coffee to make me feel better, but I appreciate the gesture, at least.

  2. I think I kind of understand your experience. Even though I know that these things are simply portrayals of what happened–cinematic or literature–I can’t help but to sympathize and place myself in the scene. I have always been maybe too empathetic, which is why Borden’s stories are starting to get to me, especially with the description of the men as they apologize for dying or as they are treated as broken segments of their bodies–heads, knees, abdomens.

  3. You could not have said that any better! I am incredibly squeamish as well. In my high school anatomy class, I was always that person who had to walk out when any videos were turned on. I pass out so easily at the sight or sounds of anything needle or pain related whether its on me or someone else.

    When I was reading “In the Operating Room”, I had to stop. I couldn’t finish it. The lightheadedness started and I knew I wasn’t going to make it through. Then in class, we were reading parts our loud and man oh man was I going crazy. I always tap my feet super fast and completley zone out to try to avoid anything from happening. But, it also blows my mind that nurses and other soldiers had to tolerate such awful things. Like there was no such thing as being squeamish, or you were going to last.

    So glad you pointed that out and shared! Nice to know I am not totally crazy!

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