Scene I: 7:30 a.m. in the OR at the VA
[Elderly gentleman with too many comorbidities to be induced into sleep. He is given local anesthesia and lies draped on the operating table. General surgery is suctioning a fluctuant mass from his upper left thorax. Case has been opened.]
Patient behind curtain: Oh, God. Oh, God! Errrgggggh!
Anesthesiologist: We’re just gonna give you some more medicine.
Chief Resident: It’s right around your broken rib. There are some nerves there. [Takes forceps and widens wound. Medical student stares at the wound.]
Patient: What do you want me to do?! [whimpers and voice begins to fade] I’m in pain! I’m in pain.
Patient: Oh, Lord! It hurts! It just hurts! Orrrggghhh!
Chief Resident [to the curtain]: You have a bad infection. It’ll only be a little longer.
Patient: Ahhhhh! Make it stop! When is it going to end?! Aggghhhhh!
Chief Resident [looks at the medical student, and speaks to him for the first time in three days as yellow pus and blood pour through the tube]: Mmmmmmm … Satisfying. [Patient howls in background.]
Scene II: Morning in the OR
[Male patient anesthetized and lying on operating table for open inguinal hernia repair. Bearded Chief is finishing opening the case. Tom Petty’s “Free-Fallin'” begins to play on the radio].
Bearded Chief [running the scalpel over skin]: This is an appropriate song.
Attending: What do you mean?
[Medical student blinks.]
Bearded Chief: “Free-Fallin’.” [Glances up and starts to cauterize.]
Attending [hands resting on the patient’s right side]: “Um … I don’t see it. But I hope not.”
Bearded Chief [buzzing some fascia]: More like “free-ballin’.”
Attending: That’s not a song.
Bearded Chief [chuckles]: “It is in my heart.”