We just finished removing the appendix in a laparoscopic procedure. The patient’s abdomen was still bloated from the gas we used for inflation during the surgery. The surgeon looks at me and instructs, “Push on the abdomen. We need to get rid of this air.”

I comply and reach over to press down when he stops me and says, “Push, but don’t push like a girl.”

“Excuse you?” I exclaimed, catching him and myself by surprise. Me, a medical student, on their first clerkship rotation, who pauses in uncomfortable silence when quizzed on surgery topics, exclaiming in such a manner.

He looked sheepish, and his cheeks flushed pink. “I mean, push hard. That’s what I mean.”

“That’s better,” I said, and I looked up to see the nurse’s eyes upturned. I knew that she was smiling underneath the surgical mask, but sadly I knew from the gaze that this was not the first or last comment that would be said in the operating room.

 

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