It was a dark and stormy night, and I, as a hospital intern/scut monkey, was called to assist Dr. Cerveza or whoever, in surgery. It was a trauma case and I could smell the alcohol pong wafting off the hapless victim on the table. But then….. “Ok, young intern, you make the insssishin will ya.” Now, please don’t extrapolate this to mean that all surgeons are inebriated all the time. There is lent.
Under the “How Much Money Was Spent On This Study” file, comes the actual headline HUNGOVER SURGEONS MAKE MORE MISTAKES. This study, done in Ireland, involved doctors who were asked to either drink to a nice Dudley Moorish buzz or abstain completely, the latter category making this a very difficult study in Ireland. In simulated surgeries, those who drank excessively the night before performed poorly.
Stop the presses! Surgeons who drink to excess the night before they operate are more likely to make errors the next day, even as late as four in the afternoon. The message, published in the Archives of Surgery actually stated “Surgeons should not drink excessively the night before operating. The definition of “excessively” is an issue that needs to be defined by the surgical profession.”
Unlike airline pilots, who have had to follow a “bottle-to-throttle” mandate restricting drinking before flights, surgeons have no “bottle-to-scalpel” rule. So if you happen to notice that your kidney is now dangling from your earlobe, it might’ve been safer to fly Aer Lingus standby.
I always think it strange when I’m asked to give an “expert” opinion on hangovers, as I am an admitted teetotaler. It’s a major character flaw that I realize I need to address, but it’s like asking me how it feels to give birth. All I know is that having a hangover and having a child both cause headaches, nausea, loud noises and often involve alcohol.
Hangovers are caused by increased levels of alcohol breakdown products called acetaldehyde, which is an unpleasant sounding word unlike say, peppermint or playoffs. Alcohol, a diuretic, leads to dehydration and causes electrolyte depletion. Dehydration means that the body now can’t easily rid itself of the irritating acetaldehyde and other byproducts of alcohol. Result…hangover, as in hanging over the porcelain phone leads to hanging over at a friend’s place and hanging under large ear mufflers.
To treat a hangover:
-Try to drink water or beverages like Gatorade or bouillon soup to help replace lost electrolytes or lost soup
-Pace yourself. Don’t drink large amounts of alcohol quickly. No more than one drink an hour, since that is all the alcohol your liver can handle. Those of you with no liver can drink as quickly as you wish.
-Exercise. It raises your metabolic rate, which helps you clear toxins associated with metabolizing alcohol. Chinese checkers is not exercise.
-Eat a meal before you start drinking unless you cook flambees without the flam.
-Use Tylenol. If you consume more than three alcoholic beverages a day, be very careful with acetaminophen, which itself can mess up a liver.
-Drink more alcohol. It doesn’t help and it’s only enhancing the existing toxicity and making dehydration worse. Hair of the dog is only good if you’re a Pekingese.
-Drink caffeinated beverages. Will further aggravate dehydration.
-Drink dark drinks. Complex organic molecules called congeners to create more toxic byproducts and are found in greater concentrations in darker drinks (e.g. whiskey, brandy, rum, even red wine)
compared with clear drinks (e.g. vodka, gin, white wine, Fresca)-Operate any heavy scalpels at 3 AM.