While there are many television shows that have given sneak peaks into operating rooms (OR) like Grey’s Anatomy, M*A*S*H and ER, Port Washington resident Corinthian Oliphant decided to give others a real-life look into her days working in an OR in her book, Behind Those White Doors of the Operating Room Seen Through My Eyes: A Memoir of the OR. Manhasset-born, Oliphant became a nursing assistant at a local hospital where many of her family and friends worked, learning that the OR isn’t the quiet place everyone thinks it is.
Oliphant began as a nursing assistant who worked on the floor, taking blood pressure and assisting a certain number of rooms, but after five years of working the floor, the hospital decided to juggle their employees around.
“My manager said a lot of people were going to the operating room,” said Oliphant. “I didn’t really want to deal with a lot of blood and I didn’t know if I could handle that, but they said, ‘it’s light, nothing bad.’ But it wasn’t. There was nothing light about working in the OR.”
To work as a nursing assistant in the OR, Oliphant went through two weeks of training where she learned how to keep a sterile field, and then was thrown into the chaos of the OR.
“What was first told to us was that we would be doing basic things like handing the nurse the tools she may need to give to the doctor,” said Oliphant. “But after months of being there, it was more us giving the tools to the doctor ourselves.”
A year into working in the OR and witnessing too many crazy and funny moments, Oliphant had the idea to record what went on during surgery, claiming she felt like she wanted to be a reporter. As she began making notes of everything that she had seen and heard, she decided that one day she would compile all of her notes into a book. Oliphant left the hospital in the early 2000s and only recently had her grandson, Schreiber student Terrell McLean, find her notes in a drawer. McLean helped his grandmother type up her notes and turn them into a book to be published by Page Publishing, Inc.
“I saw it on TV, figured I’d give them a try because I figured a lot of publishing companies won’t take a new person and I got lucky,” said Oliphant. “I was shocked. I showed them half my work, they said it sounded like something they wanted. It was a long process, but I think people will love it because it’s funny and some of the things you just don’t expect. You just think people are going into surgery and then, boom, they’re out the door. It’s not like that. It’s its own little world.”
Behind Those White Doors of the Operating Room Seen Through My Eyes: A Memoir of the OR is what Oliphant calls a gossip book, a short book full of anecdotes from the OR from those that are funny to those that are quite shocking. While the anecdotes include everything from a doctor versus doctor fist fight in the locker room to Oliphant going through hysterical blindness from the smell of contaminated blood, Oliphant hopes that readers will learn to be aware of everything when they go into the OR.
“I love working with the doctors, but they’re only God’s tools,” said Oliphant, explaining what she hopes readers will get from the book. “They’re not God. You can’t think they’re going to go in there and make everything better and perfect. They can try. I have a lot of respect for the doctors. They’re only human. You have to hope for the best when you go in there. Nothing is ever 100 percent when you go into the OR. We do have our faults.”
Behind Those White Doors of the Operating Room Seen Through My Eyes: A Memoir of the OR is available on www.amazon.com.