The Georgetown Heckler

News | March 28, 2017

7 Tips to Staying Awake On the Operating Table


I can’t blame you for wanting to drift off during surgery. Hell, I can’t count how many times I’ve nearly fallen asleep at the operating table. The sterile room, the fluorescent lights, the warm presence of my colleague Martha, the middle-aged anesthesiologist in her blue mask–it’s the perfect environment in which to drift off to the land of sweet zzzs. Despite the seductive calls of dream-land and its wholesome bounty, I have never once allowed myself to fall asleep while operating on a patient. So what if you’re not like me, you’re not a powerhouse surgeon with an iron will. Here are 7 ways to stay awake on the operating table:

1. Drink coffee!

How do the best surgeons, the real national stars and top earners, stay awake, even at times when no one would fault them for falling asleep? I’ll let you in on this old-school trick that all the best surgeons use: drinking coffee. It is full of caffeine and you can have it hot or cold! Delicious!

2. Think of a fun rhyme

I have a go-to rhyme. It is about my colleague Martha. I repeat in my head: “Martha, Martha, she’s not so prude/it’s just she’s never touched a dude. Martha, Martha, we all know Martha/ past first base? She won’t go farther.” Is the rhyme between Martha’s name and the word “farther” a stretch? Sure. But will I be too entertained to fall asleep while the patient is still open? You bet!

3. Count how many ribs they have

Is it 24? It should be 24? It is always satisfying to count all 24. And, in the event you get 23 or 25…well that just sparks my curiosity further! My mind is whirring! How could I fall asleep with such a mystery on my hands?!

4. Find the scalpel!

Uh oh! Where’s it go? When I lose my scalpel, the search is always exciting and the find even more so!

5. Make the patient look like a walrus with a pair of chopsticks

I make sure to snag a few extra pairs of chopsticks everytime I go to an asian restaurant so that, if I feel the beddy-byes hitting me, I can pull a pair out and just crack myself and my colleagues up! This one energizes the whole team!

6. Check your snapstories

I like to see what my surgeon friends are up to. It’s always so funny if someone else is doing the same procedure as me on the same day!

7. Indulge in a cat nap!

Sometimes you just can’t help yourself! Don’t worry about it. Even the best have to let loose sometimes.