We're a little crazy, about science!

The OR waltz

It’s back to the OR I go! Which means exhausting times ahead, but also very exciting times. It’s been months since our last OR experiment and things have been shelved, literally, equipment has been packed away because we weren’t using it. So it’s time to once again to shake out the equipment and do our familiar dance with the clinical staff.

I think I’ve made this analogy once before. Working in the OR is a lot like a dance and the OR staff are very good at what they do because they do this every day, multiple times a day. We on the other hand have two left feet. It’s not for lack of trying, but working with the OR staff means doing things we’re not used to doing and an etiquette that is still very foreign to us, even after a good dozen or so experiments.

The other issue is we’re a guest in their home essentially and we’re not always all that welcome because as researchers our workflow is so different from what they do it makes everyone a little uncomfortable, including us because one wrong step and we hold up everything. It’s been an experience for sure, I’ve had the chance to sit in a few surgeries over the time I’ve been working at the hospital (and technically before I formally started working while I was doing my fellowship) and I enjoy it to this day.

More often than not things go in spurts, it’s rush, rush, rush, then nothing for a long period of time. It’s an interesting little dance we do. Then there’s the stuff we do that is extra to the things they do, because we do experiments, it’s literally time where the surgeon is just waiting for us to finish. Since this is a collaboration he’s the one who wants us there, but it still feels like we’re invading his space. Like if you randomly showed up at your friends house and started painting a room because you really didn’t like the previous color.

In the end it all works out and we’re constantly reminded that he’s happy to have us there. The surgeon, who is surgeon-PI, as in one of my committee members, is very polite like that, but we also don’t want to take advantage of his kindness or his time. The outcome for him is a journal paper and the satisfaction of doing research with us, which is a lot of fun. He does have surgery, half research anyway so this was a good way to blend his workload. For us it’s a chance to do something we wouldn’t be able to do otherwise. Collaboration is great like that and despite feeling like uninvited guests, it’s been great so far with the exception of the first try, which was an experience (here).

The cool thing about going back in now is that we get to play with our new fancy equipment. I’m excited to see what we can do with it, even though it isn’t exactly why we purchased it. It’s technically for “big idea,” but there are other uses for it as well (or we probably would’ve just made due with the equipment we have now). It will be a easy way to check and make sure everything works properly though, because even new equipment can arrive broken, it’s just less likely to be broken than old equipment. It will be somewhat of a relief to verify though because it’s expensive and the backorder for the stuff we got is months and months (like end of the year backed up).

We also are very close to starting “big idea” for real this time. After the previous false alarm hospital-PI has been following up with the IRB basically daily waiting for the final approval, which according to our coordinator could be any day now. We already have one participant lined up for the project, so this time next week I could have a very one of a kind dataset to work with, which would be exciting! For now though, I’m trying to get all the new stuff setup and run through all the checks to make sure it works properly. There’s nothing worse than going into the OR unprepared.

It’s been a long week and it will probably be even longer tomorrow, but there’s a lot of potential for good things. Fingers crossed anyway.

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