Friday, May 11, 2007
If there's such a thing as mild OCD, I think I have it. For a surgeon, I'd say that's generally a good thing. In my practice, I was pretty obsessive over making sure everything was as it should be: the right instruments available, all lab and paperwork hand-carried to the OR the night before surgery. I liked the look of putting sutures in perfectly spaced, each bight the same size as the last. I took certain stairs, walked the hospital halls in ways that required the least amount of retracing steps, achieving maximumfficiency. Back stairs to the top floor, down a particular hall where the first patients were, then to the nurses' station, then another hall, down the front stairs to the next floor. Like that. The down side is that I often over-reacted if things weren't just so: if during the thousandth time I was doing a particular case, the suture (for example) that I always used wasn't readily available, it could drive me nuts. Less in terms of going ballistic (oh, there were times) than getting stressed out.
If I walk by a book on a counter, I'm likely to square it off with the edges. In other posts I've mentioned my on-timeliness, to the OR, to the office, seeing a patient. Arriving only on time is in fact, far as I'm concerned, the same as being late. I'm usually early. Running behind in the office upset me greatly; enough that it was a pretty uncommon occurrence.
On the other hand, it's not a problem for me to say it's all BS and not rearrange books. I have no weird hygiene or grooming habits. In fact, one time in the youth of my practice, my mother asked my wife why she didn't get me to dress better. (Different generations!) My desk was generally a moderate mess. So maybe it was closer to OK than not: compulsive about details of patient care, mildly and controllably crazy in a few personal things, and so careless about how I dress that I saved a lot of money on clothes. When science gets to the point of dialing in various levels of gene expression, I volunteer my OCD gene as a starting point for surgeons. Tweaked here and there, it could be just about perfect.
[Confession: I realize this particular post is mostly fluff. I'm killing time while I work on a series of posts, the aim of which is to detail what it's really like to do an operation, from start to finish, before and beyond. I think I'll have a couple ready by next week. Like the TV show "24," it'll probably be scripted on the fly, starting the series before I know if it works or turns out well enough...]