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25 Secrets And Confessions From Surgeons That Show What's Really Going On Behind The Scenes

I've definitely watched every single season of Grey's Anatomy all the way through, but I still don't truly know what it's like to be a real-life surgeon. Since I was curious, I decided to ask the surgeons of the BuzzFeed Community: "What's the biggest secret about your job that nobody knows?"

A man portraying a doctor peers into the camera as if examining a patient

Here's what they had to say, buckle up:

1."There are MASSIVE feuds. It's a super competitive industry, so shit gets petty. Once, two doctors started taking shots at each other DURING A SURGERY. One of them told the other he'd beat him up if he were younger. It was wild. Thank your operating room nurses everyone because sometimes we are the only thing keeping the fights from getting physical!"

—Anonymous

2."My plumber gets paid more for a 30 minute check of a dripping faucet than your insurance pays me to take out your gallbladder."

—Anonymous

3."It is not infrequent that we have flies and other insects in the operating room. A colleague whacked a fly in the sterile field with a sponge and flicked it all into a kick bucket."

—Anonymous

4."A secret about surgeons is when we’re doing our job, people blank out and sometimes will grab a snack for a quick break. Something that is gross to me, but refreshing to others."

—Anonymous

"People getting their period under anesthesia is more common than you’d expect."

Medical team performing surgery, viewed from patient's perspective

—Anonymous

skaman306 / Getty Images

5."If you ever wondered why your body hurts head to tail after many surgeries that would seem to be confined to a specific area, it's because of the way surgeons must manipulate a human body in order to have proper physical access to the area in question. As in, if you go in for an ablation of your heart, you’ll pretty much hurt everywhere even though the actual surgery only took place in on ventricle of your heart."

"With orthopedic surgeries, often times those huge orderlies that you don’t see in the operating room before you nod off, must hold a joint in a state of dislocation in order to properly access the surgical site. Hence, all the post surgical pain in odd places on your body."—R. S. Richert

6."Before any abdominal surgery, we have to clean out your belly button. It is very common (and gross) to find smelly gunk. More than once I have found bugs."

—Anonymous

7."As a surgeon, I work an extra 8 hours every weekend I am off to catch up on documentation. The majority of my time is spent on bullshit instead of patient care. It is killing me."

—Anonymous

8."We get called to pull things out of buttholes often. Just because it fits in that way, doesn't mean it will come out that way."

—Anonymous

9."Patients don’t realize the hours of training and review and number of team members it takes to make surgeries safe. From the sterile environment of the rooms, to team safety checks, and more. Every team member is completely freaked out about the possibility of a surgical complication."

"When it does happen, although rarely, this is reviewed extensively in committee meetings and often, as it should, affect the careers of those involved. The only comparable industries like this are the air travel industry, biotech, and perhaps NASA."

—intrepiddoc

10."When something goes wrong during or after a surgery, it affects us deeply. What a patient sometimes sees as cold or heartless is usually just a surgeon trying to put on a professional face so that they can keep doing their job and not get burned out. I don't know one single other surgeon who isn't impacted by guilt and sadness after a complication."

—Anonymous

11."If you get shot, stabbed or in a bad car accident, you usually will end up in the trauma bay. You get put on a hard plastic board, about 20 people surround you, we cut off your clothes, stick you with needles, and get x-rays and ultrasounds. All usually in under 5 minutes."

—Anonymous

12."Patients have told me some wild things while the anesthesia was still wearing off. One old woman told me that she would rather sleep with me than her husband."

—Anonymous

13."As a group, surgeons are way less professional than you think. One was arrested for buying crack cocaine from an undercover cop, another got a stripper pregnant and another (married) doctor’s stripper girlfriend was seen more than a few times leaving the clinic early in the morning before business hours. Scandalous!"

—Anonymous

14."Primary care doctors literally don’t know any disease processes anymore, and the majority of patients sent to see a surgeon have no surgical issues. Most of them barely have a diagnosis. They just show up because the PCP doesn’t want to deal with their complaints."

—Anonymous

15."Having trainees like residents and fellows involved in your care actually improves patient outcomes. Don’t be the asshole who demands no residents touch you. You will be judged and you will also be refusing standard appropriate care."

—Anonymous

16."I am a trauma, emergency general surgery, and critical care surgeon. There are many things people don’t understand about my job. I think a big one is that the nurses know who is good or bad at what they do. Publications or a well-known name does not mean that you can do the work well."

"The nurses always know who can’t finish a robotic operation and has to open often, who has saved the life of patients near death with quick thinking, who has had a number of complications, and what doctors' bedside manner is reassuring or atrocious."

—Anonymous

17."Vein centers and mobile vascular services are just doing unnecessary procedures to take money from you and take advantage of nursing home patients."

—Anonymous

18."Many cis men will get erections while under anesthesia. It’s just a fact of life."

—Anonymous

19."Everyone expects us to sacrifice our own physical and mental health for the bottom line. Hospital systems don’t even care about appropriate care for patients. They only care about how much you can work yourself to death to produce reimbursements from insurance."

—Anonymous

Surgical team performing an operation with medical instruments
Gumpanat / Getty Images

20."Your surgeon is likely sleep-deprived, stressed, hassled, and hungry. Please don’t be a dick."

—Anonymous

21."Unless your surgery is the first case of the day, it will not go on time."

—Anonymous

22."We don’t judge you for being overweight because of body shaming. We hate that you’re overweight because it makes your surgery a lot harder and longer to perform. You also have much slower recovery and higher risk of complications."

—Anonymous

Two surgeons in scrubs and surgical masks focused on a procedure under bright operating lights
FangXiaNuo / Getty Images

23."Although the surgeon has the responsibility of what happens to the patient while they are in an operating room, there are others who dictate what is done. Insurance companies deny permission for certain procedures, medicare determines payment after the fact, hospital managers are always looking for the best price (not the best care), dictations have to match pre-authorizations (not what was done), residents leave in the middle of cases when their 'time' is up, and then, of course, there is paperwork."

—Anonymous

24."We listen to music while operating, and judge other surgeons by their music choices (and singing voice)."

—Anonymous

25.And finally, "If you have a truly outrageous haircut, we WILL drag you, including during the operation. Some of the harshest burns I've heard in my life came from dusty old surgeons."

—Anonymous

Surgeons — are there any other secrets behind your job more people should know about? Let us know anonymously in this Google Form or in the comments below.

Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.