My feet hurt

Eight hours standing in a single spot, how do surgeons do it? I’m hoping my endurance will build, especially knowing that some of the procedures I’m going to see in the next few weeks such as the “Whipple” or pancreaticoduodenectomy may take twice as long.

The good news is that I have lucked into working with great people – the misbehavior of surgeons is greatly exaggerated – and have learned lots of interesting things. The coolest yet was running the camera on a laparoscopic or “keyhole” surgery – it looked something like this.

Although what we did was more complicated (and harder to reach) it was both physically and mentally challenging. Basically, you are operating a camera in a 3 dimensional space, and the hand movements that will direct the position of the camera are reversed (usually). It’s a little bit like flying a plane, meanwhile, you’re standing for hours in a single spot, unable to lean on anything, maintaining a sterile field, and trying to track the position of the surgeon based on the movements of the instruments and a fair amount of mind-reading. It goes from exciting, to grueling pretty rapidly. Meanwhile the attending is standing in the same spot, running everything, not even bitching at me when I end up off target, perfectly content, like a stone wall, while my feet are killing me. How do they do it?

More soon.


  1. Are you gellin’?

  2. Mark,

    My 14-year-old wants to be a surgeon…I’m going to have him follow this series. Please keep posting about it!

  3. It goes from exciting, to grueling pretty rapidly.

    Sorry about your grueling time! The body is an amazingly adaptive organism. The old saying about you can get used to just about anything seems to have proven itself true to me and many others. The getting used to it period can be rough, but it can help to know one day it may not bother you at all!
    Dave Briggs :~)

  4. 8 Hours?

    My neighbor is a senior Surgical ENT resident. He has a rotation where he removes head/neck tumors (from guys that are like 30 pack-year smokers) and then grafts skin from the legs.

    The procedures are routinely 14+ hours. He has repeatedly said it is his least enjoyed and most dreaded rotation.

  5. Dude, crocs. Or geta. Or clogs (career ballet dancer I knew swore by them). Hell, wear stilettos if they help you. Good luck.

  6. You have very interesting site.Thanks for all.

  7. QrazyQat

    Practice. I used to own a Ferrari repair shop and one of our clients was an orthodontist who was in much better shape than my partner and I. So one day while we’re working on his car he does some detailing in the other side of the engine compartment — we’re all leaning over the fenders not touching the paint. It’s an awkward position to hold. But the orthodontist starts aching after 15 minutes while we could go on for a couple hours. Same for holding your hands in the air while wrenching underneath a car. Try holding your hands up for a half hour sometime. If you’re not a mechanic it’ll probably be grueling, if possible at all.

    It’s just like getting to Carnegie Hall. And at the end you’ll be making surgeon money, while others standing for the same length of time will be making starvation wages behind a Walmart cash register, so as Ann Landers would’ve said, Quit ‘cher bitching. 🙂

  8. I think the problems comes from not moving. You might try just shifting your weight back and forth between your two legs. Relieving the pressure in the tissue on the sole of your foot for a few heart beats would allow blood flow.

  9. Clogs. A blog-friend who is a nurse swears by Dansko clogs. I’ve also noticed that chefs tend to wear them.

    I like the Calla line–not the heelless kind, have a back.

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