…is seeing how my brother decided to wrap our gifts this year.
“Call the code!”
My heart jumped into my throat as a stream of ICU nurses flooded our patient’s room. There are no other words in medicine that can freeze your actions as quickly as those three.
“Go get Dr. M,” my resident instructed. I sprinted through the hospital hallways, the thought entering my mind that this might be the closest experience I’ve had to Grey’s Anatomy yet.
Dr. M had just been there, confirming that our patient just needed some extra IV fluids and blood to fix her low blood pressures. Except she had other plans, as her failure to breathe would force us to take her emergently to the OR, now with increased concern for internal bleed from her newly transplanted kidney’s vasculature.
Once stabilized, we mobilized to the OR, where almost immediately upon incision, crimson pools of blood made their presence known. The surgeons rushed to suction off the hemorrhage and identify its source. Luckily, one squirty section of artery was easily found and stitched, and we began our hunt for additional leaks.
“Asystole,” the anesthesiologists’ voice boomed from behind the drape, breaking our concentration. I looked up to see the terrifying flat line on the patient’s heart monitor. My resident seamlessly began chest compressions.
The rest is a blur of chest compressions, pushing epinephrine, giving units upon unit of blood, using electric shocks, crowds of doctors and nurses scrambling to find ways to be helpful, calling medical examiners, moving a cold body to a new stretcher, paperwork, toe tags, struggling to keep it together while the family fell apart.
I was only supposed to be there to help with the renal transplants that night.
Instead, I saw my first code. I did my first chest compressions. I was reminded that though my future job will be to save lives, I won’t be able to save them all.
A collection of my thoughts “BS – before surgery” and “DS- during surgery.”
BS: Ugh, I have to wake up at 5:30 AM tomorrow. Life is terrible.
DS: I get to wake up at 5:30 AM tomorrow! I can’t wait to sleep in!
BS: It would be really terrible to be in a car accident. Physical injuries are undesirable, and I don’t have time to be in the hospital.
DS: It would be really terrible to be in a car accident. I’d be brought to the trauma bay at my hospital and all of my residents and attendings will notice that I haven’t shaved my legs in a week.
BS: I’m going to take care of my body! Let’s do Pilates and eat healthy foods every day!
DS: I thought about doing exercise twice this week. Then, I promptly fell asleep at 7:30 PM with a handful of my trail mix dinner firmly grasped.
BS: Maintaining my social life in medical school is really important to me and my sanity.
DS: Wait, who are you again?
I’ve successfully survived trauma surgery! Tomorrow, I start a two week rotation on “Minimally Invasive Surgery,” which kind of makes me laugh because I’ve been doing laparoscopic surgeries (read: operations with small incisions to insert tools and a camera) for weeks now for appendices and gallbladders gone wild. Realistically, this is the bariatric service, because their main focus is gastric bypass.
Either way, gone are the days of 24 hour call and running to the emergency room for traumas. If only the days of waking up at 3:45 AM would go, too.
…and somehow, even though I know I’m not a surgeon and I most certainly do not love being conscious at 4 AM, I still love what I’m doing. And that makes everything worth it.
I reach over to percuss on each half of her abdomen: one-two, one-two. My eyes remained locked on her face, looking for any signs of increased tenderness that would indicate her bowel perforation has caused an infection of the fluid or membranes within her abdominal cavity.
Without wincing, her eyes meet mine. “You’d better not knock again.”
I raise an eyebrow. “Why not?”
“Because it would mean that you want me,” she announces, winking.
Glad to know her bowel perforation hasn’t infected her abdominal fluid or her sense of humor.
My apologies for my recent hiatus. My involvement on the trauma surgery service paired with the opportunity to travel home for a few days over Thanksgiving has left me with little time to eat, sleep, and shower, let alone blog. But this is my last week of trauma, and I’m very much looking forward to sharing all of the stories of the past month with you all the moment my schedule allows.
In the meantime, you could head over to Your Doctor’s Wife and check out some other medical blogs on this Medical Monday! Or, if you happen to be visiting from Medical Mondays, welcome! I hope you enjoy the posts from this past summer and that you’ll join me for the rest of my medical journey. 🙂