Operating with an Impeccable Surgeon

Wow. I was on call on Friday (24+ hours) and it was INSANE. I did not sleep once and spent probably three-quarters of the night in theater. One emergency C-section after another, a handful of ectopic pregnancies – and a team of two: one medical officer and one intern (that’s me).

However, this was probably THE most incredible surgical-time I have ever spent on call. The medical officer I worked with was so experienced in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. I have never seen someone do a C-section or a salpingectomy so speedily – and she is not even close to finishing her training in OBGYN yet.

surgery cool

The downside was that I did not have the opportunity to do a solo Caesarian Section – because we were constantly rushing for the next case, so there was no time for a slow intern to learn – but she (the MO) taught all the way through every surgery. Which is more than I can say for the doctors I worked with in medical school.

What amazed me was that she operated so CLEANLY. I’m not in the business of comparing people more qualified than myself because I know that there is more than one way to skin a cat (or to cut out a baby, if you will), but it was a pleasure to not constantly be in fear of wayward sharps. It so often happens that I assist with people who leave their scalpels lying around or don’t put their needles in safety-position before putting them down, and it just adds unnecessary stress to assisting.

I’m sure it takes more effort to operate like she did, but I’ll definitely try to employ her technique when I start doing C-sections.

Speaking of highly efficient people: we also operated with one of the best scrub nurses I am yet to meet. He is from the Philippines (but has lived in South Africa for longer than I have been alive) and he actually put my gloves on for me like they always do in Grey’s Anatomy! I thought that was just something that happens in movies. It was so cool.

Highlight of the night: an emergency salpingectomy for a ruptured ectopic of TEN WEEKS gestational age. It was incredible (and more than a little sad) to see the live fetus swimming around in the sac when we removed it. Mom had more than 1000cc blood in her abdomen but recovered so well post-surgery. YAY.

Usually I try not to sleep all day when I am post-call, but this was without a doubt one of the roughest calls I have had. So, I slept til 20h00.


  1. Lovely story. Sounds like a great teacher, I hope you can be on with her again.

    1. barefootmegz says:

      I hope so too! 🙂

  2. estemarks says:

    Sounds so exciting. Definitely something to look forward to. BTW, that last picture describes me perfectly!!!

    1. barefootmegz says:

      I feel like there should be a special class just to learn the correct names for the correct instruments! 😛

  3. harveylisam says:

    I had an experience where we took out a similarly-aged fetus (it was a case of twin-twin transfusion and Twin A had died at 11 weeks, and so we had to take it out when we delivered Twin B). I was transfixed and also so sad.

    Also, hilarious that you were so excited by the scrub nurse putting your gloves on for you! They usually do this at home for us.

    And one more thing — holy crap interns get to do C sections in South Africa!? Hardcore! I’m pretty sure that doesn’t happen here (unless maybe you’re an OB/GYN first-year resident or something).

    1. Peace says:

      My thought exactly. Good luck.

    2. barefootmegz says:

      Like a disappearing twin syndrome basically? Fascinating and yes, sad.

      That’s SO LUCKY. We have to scrub in allll by ourselves. And get our fingers unstuck all by ourselves too. Haha.

      Yeah, we get to do C-sections… actually, we HAVE to. I haven’t done any solo yet, but I still have three months on OBGYN so let’s hope I can reach my quota in time. It’s kind of scary though. I have two left hands!

  4. This all sounds so amazing – thanks for sharing your stories!

    1. barefootmegz says:

      Thanks for reading them! 🙂

  5. NB says:

    Sounds like it was an amazing experience. I start rotations in about half a year, I’m excited and terrified at the same time!

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