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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Using a wall to itch my face and other jaunts in surgery

Surgery, oh Surgery. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. You wake me up before dawn and lay me down to sleep long after sunset. You stole me from my old lover; sleep. I forget what day light looks like; I assume more yellow? Are there more people outside? Do they wear navy scrubs, too? You humble me at every wrong answer and leave me wanting for knowledge. But today you rewarded me with a “good job” and a literal pat on the back from an attending surgeon. I could have died of shock and pride.

You guys… I’m too exhausted to keep this weird poem thing up. Surgery is great. Those are three words I never thought I would utter. For my lawyers, I have yet to SPEAK them, so, no worries. It is exactly as exhausting as you would imagine and I often find myself wondering what a caffeine overdose feels like, but I’m loving it. I think it’s a mix of my first rotation, seeing real live patients, dealing with actual disease, and surgery but whatever it is, I love it.

I began my rotation on the urology service. When I saw my assignment, I will admit, I groaned. I wasn’t thrilled, I thought it would be a whole bunch of prostate exams, penises, and urine. While those things are super true, it’s also a lot of really interesting disease processes, cool surgeries, hands on experience, helping patients, AND penises. Remember that post about how traumatizing the genital/rectal exam was back in basic sciences? Well, that’s my life now. Although, not traumatizing and surprisingly easy to disassociate from.

Disassociation seems to be an important skill in medicine. I haven’t mastered it (I mean, it’s been three days) but I can tell that I will need to. Pain, suffering, and death are all very large parts of this career and I am still very much in a place where I feel for the patients on an emotional level.  The hardest thing I have seen so far is a patient who has lost hope. That one will stick with me for a very long time.

But back to the penis jokes! …I don’t have any. Sorry to disappoint, everyone.

My sleep deprivation is showing in my writing. The schedule on paper isn’t that intense but what it doesn’t show is the “You can go home or you can stay for a few more surgeries” pseudo choice. Yes, I’m sure it would be fine to go home and skip the last surgeries of the day but who does that serve? You have to learn these things anyways and seeing them, doing them, and asking an attending questions about them is easily the best way. Plus, everyone knows you’re not getting an “excellent” grade if you peace out early. More so, all of you know that I will die if I do not get said excellent grade; literally cease to exist. So I will go home and study (< sleep) when the cases are over.

Once I have seen more patients I will discuss themes and compilations of them but I will never discuss any specific cases so I have nothing to say on that yet. Although, today I did learn how to use a scope and guys, let your kids play video games, it will help make them great surgeons. (Thanks Eric for always hogging the N64)

One of the harder things to adjust to is the sterile procedure. Once you've scrubbed in you walk around with your hands at shoulder level until the scrub nurse can gown you and glove you. Then you cannot touch anything that is not sterile. That includes your face mask, hair cover, eye protection, door, toilet, coffee, whatever. It's hard not to itch a scratch or, today I was in a case that required protective glasses for lasers (I KNOW, SO COOL) and they kept slipping down. All I wanted to do was push them up but I had to keep using the handle on a machine to nudge them up higher. It was a vision of grace. 

Whew. This ended up being a lot longer than I thought. 

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