When I was doing my training to become a nurse back home in the Philippines, it was a toss-up as to which area of study I hated the most: the operating theatre or learning about the musculo-skeletal system. I failed abysmally in those two areas (well, I barely managed to scrape together a pass mark, which to me still counts as a failure) and I always thought my career in nursing would have nothing whatsoever to do with those two things.
Which is why I find it rather ironic that here I am, ten years later, working as an ORTHOPAEDIC scrub nurse on top of my role in education (education, on the other hand, I always knew I would get into. Its in the blood!).
No one is more surprised by my thriving career in orthopaedics than me. 7 years ago, I barely knew what a torque wrench was or that there were different kinds of screwdrivers depending on the type of screw you need. If you had told me 6 years ago that I’d be putting jigs together to do a total knee replacement, I would laugh in your face. Honestly, I only volunteered to be in the orthopaedic theatres in the first place because there was a good-looking company rep teaching people how to use power tools. Lol
I can’t say enough just how much I love this speciality. Its not the easiest in the world to learn, and the people in it are not exactly known for their patience in teaching. But for some reason I can’t explain, it gives me such an adrenaline rush to do it, especially the big arthroplasty cases. I love to the challenge of scrubbing for a difficult case even if it means I have to open a million heavy sets.
I love that our patients always walk away happy because we’ve corrected some kind of deformity in their hip or knee. Sure, ortho isn’t life or death most of the time. But if you think about someone who’s been in pain for a long time and for whom simple activities that we take for granted (like walking) are so difficult, and then think about the fact that one operation can help with that and improve their quality of life…that to me, is a minor miracle.
We’ve come so far with orthopaedics in the last couple of years. There’s been so much research to come up with ways to be more precise with joint replacements for example, with the hope that such precision will lead to improved patient outcomes.
This week, I’ll have the chance to work with the team doing (I think) the first robotic joint replacement in the NHS. I had a little moment when the robot was first delivered where I thought, omigod, the future has arrived and it is amazing. I’m sorry, I just can’t pretend to be blasé about this, I am beyond excited to have this kind of technology at our workplace.
We organised training today and I got the chance to play with Wall-e, which is what I’m naming the robot until I come up with a better name. So here’s a video of me trying to calibrate the robot arm with the sensors.
The future is here. Are you ready for it?