The surgical scramble!
Today was an… interesting day. Saturday I mentioned that today I would be in the OR again, it feels like I’ve been living there for a bit now and I have to say I’m enjoying it, but things were a little more hectic than I had originally anticipated. I had arranged for everything to be ready well before the surgery took place, but as it turns out that wasn’t what happened and I was left to scramble in order to get everything working.
Research is interesting because everyone wants you to do it, I mean the organizations that fund you, but no one seems to want to let you do it. Thankfully it all worked out in the end, but let’s just say it was a bit dramatic for me. Thankfully hospital-PI was with me when everything happened or I probably would’ve had a full on panic attack. Let’s take it from the beginning since I’m feeling flustered and I think the story would make more sense going in order.
I woke this morning well before I had planned to go in and get things going. This post was supposed to happen between the time I woke up and the time I left for the hospital, but I got an email from my surgical-PI (since I have more PI’s than I know what to do with). He said the participant was ready for consent and that we would probably go into the OR early. How early? No idea, just early. Since he asked that I consent the participant well before I even planned to be in the hospital I made a mad rush to get out the door and to the hospital to obtain consent. Thankfully the person agreed beforehand, was super excited, and I practically cried when he said he thinks what we’re doing is amazing.
Anyway, on the way to the hospital my hospital-PI calls me, for the first time in our three year relationship, and is obviously just as flustered as I am. We work things out, I get to the hospital, grab the paperwork, meet with our participant, go into more detail about what we’re doing, and got consent from them. They are actually very excited to come back and do more experiments with us, so that will be nice in the future assuming the surgery went well.
Since we were in a rush, I ran to grab the equipment and get it all setup. Things went well for the most part, I tested some of the basic stuff and off I went to meet with my hospital-PI who was on the way and barely made it before we got to the OR. We had some time before surgery to double check the equipment, which turned out to be a good thing because we needed to make some software adjustments so it all worked the way it was supposed to. Things felt like they were working out well for us, until that is we set foot into the OR and things went to hell.
In hindsight we needed to coordinate better, but you don’t know what you don’t know and we had no idea we should’ve coordinated with the electrophysiologist on the case. They got super flustered while we were there and actually left the OR while someone else came in, they returned later, but man it was wild. The hospital uses an outside monitoring service and somewhere along the line the tech was messaging the service to let them know we came to do the experiment, they thought we were another monitoring service (we were NOT!) and threatened to leave all together. They took our names and my hospital-PI’s contact info so we could plan better for the next time, but man was this stressful!
After a few minutes we had to remove our equipment because they were having trouble with there’s, we figured out the problem was with the person having the surgery and not anything we were doing, so our equipment went back on. This took almost an hour of troubleshooting before we realized it wasn’t us, it was the person having the surgery. So long story short, we had surgeon-PI waiting around for us to start the experiment (which took like 10 minutes) for like an hour and a half before he could get to work all because they had someone who didn’t respond to stimulation very well.
In the end, we got the data that we wanted, things went somewhat smoother after we figured out what the problem was, and surgeon-PI wasn’t upset. In fact, we plan to do it again soon. Thankfully we learned a lot about how to coordinate. While the data wasn’t great, it was a (somewhat painful) learning experience and now we know for next time how to arrange this. Which, as I mentioned, there will be a next time!
I love doing stuff like this and it was exciting to meet a participant who was excited as we were. Most of the time they don’t exactly understand what we’re trying to do, but I think we’re getting better at explaining it because they was thrilled. They asked us if we could keep them updated on what we find and if they could help us with future studies, so that was very kind of them. Since this project is taking a lot longer and is way more involved than we initially thought it would be, it’s nice to see things coming together.
While today was rough, I really think we’re off to a good start with the new direction for this project. I’m excited to be doing this again soon. Nothing is planned yet, but it should be sooner rather than later. Surgeon-PI has cases pretty much weekly so we’ll be coordinating with them when they find someone who wants to assist us in our study.
I’m exhausted, but in a good way. With a little luck the next one will go smoother.