20 August 2011

A knot-able occurence

I continue to be amazed by what random pieces of knowledge from my past are coming in handy these days. The other day, the taut-line hitch I learned in the Boy Scouts saved me from spending anatomy lab in my boxers.

While putting on my scrubs for anatomy lab in the changing room, I found to my horror that one end of the drawstring had somehow gotten pulled into the bottoms. In a panic, I yanked on the other end of the drawstring, burying the lost end even further into the no-mans'-land of my waistband. The scrubs are several sizes too big, and awkwardly clutching my bottoms (like one of the "cool" kids in my middle school with baggy pants) for the 5 minute walk to anatomy lab was all I could manage to keep them from falling down. Class was starting and dissection is difficult with only one hand free. What to do?

I wiped the "grime" off of some dissection forceps and tried vainly to grab hold of the string. Somehow this made the situation even worse and probably smeared the inside of my scrubs with formaldehyde.

The taut-line hitch
My salvation came in the form of some string that the lab provides for bundling muscles and tying together skin flaps. To tie the string into a belt, I used the taut-line hitch, which is pretty much the only knot I remember from my Scout days. Heck, I still have troubles with my shoes, which become untied so often that I've pretty much given up on them. The beauty of the taut-line is that it makes a very strong loop, the length of which can be simply adjusted even after the knot's been tied. Upon fashioning a belt that loosened and tightened, I was so proud of it that I was sad to have to tuck it out of sight under my scrub tops.

That night, the taut-line came to the rescue again when I fixed, using dental floss, the poorly-designed IKEA hanging file rack that holds my lecture notes. Now my notes smell refreshingly minty.

It's nice how med school draws together together loose ends from our pasts. I just hope some of my Scout training remains purely theoretical--like the merit badge requirement that involved jumping into a lake fully-clothed, inflating one's jeans and long-sleeve shirt, and using them as flotation devices. At least when that day comes I'll be prepared.

[Images are shown with permission via Creative Commons license: scrubs attributable to wenzday01, taut-line schematic attributable to David J. Fred]