Thursday, September 17, 2009

didn't update my blog for a while because surgery ate my life!

Now for a long list of "One time I's".... because I just couldn't choose a winner for the title: In no particular order, one time I...

-got ridiculously sick from being around kids and working my tail off for fewer than 3 days.

This is the current situ. I write you from my couch, having spent an entire day at home (shock) trying to rest and beat whatever has attacked me back into place. I began my peds surgery rotation on Monday, and boy has it been a hot mess. I am NOT in kansas anymore! To start, I am the only med student on the rotation--not fun. Crazy amounts of pimping (pimping: when attendings, fellows, or residents ask you very pointed questions, related to medical knowledge, a patient's history or current data, 80's music...anything, really; usually preceded by someone saying, "where's the med student? get her up here!"), VERY early rounds (5:30 two days of the week), foreign computer programs full of inaccessible patient data, and a seemingly limitless OR schedule welcomed me into the arms of pediatric surgery. Don't get me wrong--the residents are very nice. Anyways, just as I was starting to get my bearings around the catacombs that are Children's Hospital, about midday Tuesday I started feeling pretty crummy --fever, aches, chills, headache, sore throat, the whole bit. Woke up Wednesday at my 3:00AM wake up time still feeling ill, and resolved that I'd tell my residents how I felt, do my notes, and go home. Well, I got to the first step and told my jr resident...and he just stared back then continued his work. Later that day, as I continued to work (taking extra germicidal/germ-containing precautions), an attending asked me how I was doing after a coughing fit during surgery. When I responded saying I was pretty sure I was sick, he responded with "Yeah, it's pretty normal to get sick after the first couple days around kids." No precautions. No "Go home" or "Get out of my OR." I got home late that afternoon feeling horrible, and forced myself to reread the flu/fever protocol email we got from our dean of students, who happens to be an infectious disease doctor. As I reread this email (which says clearly that we are not to report to work if we have a fever and not to return until afebrile for 24 hours) and began the internal struggle to call my sr resident to tell him I wasn't coming in the next day, I was struck by something I'd been told my whole life from my doctor-parents and grandparent, by word and occasional example, about physicians not taking good care of themselves. After discussing my plan of action with my mom, dad, and even a peer over gchat, it was a near act of congress for me to actually page my resident to let him know the news. Looking back (ha as it was just last night), I have to laugh, thinking to myself "who am I kidding? what do I actually offer that is important enough to outweigh the risk that I pose to contaminating these already-sick kids?" However, I can't explain how real my feelings of inadequacy were/are for having been afflicted in a totally human way. I actually apologized when I was talking to my resident. And he accepted. Still processing this, but for now I'm working on becoming a doctor who does not demand superhumanness, of myself or others. And I'm working on getting better.

Moving on...

-got to take care of my cousin (Tally) at Children's, including scrubbing in on her surgery!

Tally is my dad's sister's daughter, a very sweet, cool teenager. It's not cool that Tally had to have surgery, but it is kind of neat that I got to children's just as she got admitted. Not sure how much I should share about her on the internet...HIPAA and all, but it was a quick and successful minor procedure that should make her feel much better. Got to put her to sleep and wake her up (none of which she'll remember)--and she didn't even do anything goofy! That aaaaaaand next time I see her at Christmas, I'll think about what her insides look like :)

-got to amputate a lil baby's extra "finger" (aka nubbin)

Little cutie with loads of other issues was on the OR list for other repairs with a tag-on "REMOVAL OF RIGHT EXTRA DIGIT." As the attending finished up the complicated stuff, he said to me/about me, "Yeah the med student's gonna remove the little nubbin'." I thought, "yeah, right." I'd heard all the action you get on peds is removing staples and spreading out blankets (That's right, people. unlike at UAB, at children's, your kids' surgeries actually stay in the hands of fully trained professionals...or at least fellows.). Needless to say, I was surprised when he handed me the suture and told me to take care of business.

-saw my first circumcision.

After attending the international AIDS conference last summer where there was lots of research talk about the potential protective effect circumcision might have on contracting HIV, I realized I'd never actually seen a "circ," as they're called in the biz. There was lots of chatter at this conference from the opposition regarding the unknown lifelong effects of such traumatic pain during the first few months of life. Anyways, not going to debate all that here, but I must looked unpleasant. Luckily this baby was under general anesthesia because the circ, too, was a tag-on to another procedure, thereby preventing the crying that usually goes on. But man...that did not look pleasant. One of the guys I was working with remarked that the rate of circ's in Holland has dropped at least by half over the last couple years, because it's no longer covered by insurance companies. What would happen here if we did that?

-acquired a pair of the much-sought-after navy scrubs available only (probably not) at children's hospital.

Ok even though there's more...I must go to sleep. At least rounds are at 6 rather than 5:30 tomorrow.


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  2. Hey!! Did you know that Andy was sick starting Sat night with same symptoms and Richelle has had it this week as well. I had a version of it and had to miss 1 1/2 days of work this week! Wonder if Ken is sick??
    Love your new blog! All the stories are great as I can totally see them happening to my med students on my team. keep it up - Jessica