Tag Archives: hospital

really?

“Until I get there,” the urology resident instructed me, “you must apply direct manual compression to mechanically disperse the penile and preputial edema.  This will hopefully minimize the swelling and allow for manual retraction by the time I get there.”

So in other words, as my attending so eloquently directed me “grab that thing and hold on tight.”

There are a lot of awkward moments in the emergency department.  Many of them have to do with interactions with nurses (I am really sorry my patient threw up on your leg AGAIN yes he can have some Zofran), paramedics (last time I saw you, I am pretty sure you were making out with one of my co-residents in the middle of a bar), and even correction officers (um, please, just un-handcuff him for the lung exam. Fine, you can keep his feet chained to the bed).

My most awkward moment of late, however, had to do with one particular patient with one particular penis problem.

Paraphimosis is when, in an uncircumcised or partially circumcised male, the foreskin gets retracted behind the glans penis, starts to swell, and gets stuck in that position.  The reason this is an emergency is that this swelling then cuts off blood flow to the head of the penis.  The head will start to turn dark and eventually may become necrotic.  It’s usually iatrogenic in nature, meaning, we cause it.  In this case the patient has a foley catheter in his urethra (secondary to a recent surgery).  He resides at one of the homeless shelters that also provides some medical care, and the nursing staff inadvertently forgot to replace the patient’s foreskin after the most recent foley catheter change. This is actually a great case for me, it’s one of the few urologic emergencies and a case up until now I had only read about.

As great of a case as it may be, the treatment is nothing short of mortifying. Very reluctantly I pulled a chair into the room, and for the next fifteen minutes I sat by my 65 year old patient’s side and “mechanical dispersed the penile and preputial edema,” AKA, I very firmly held his penis in my hand.  For fifteen freakin’ minutes.

Really? I am really doing this right now? Please, just for a moment, put yourself in my shoes.  What are you going to talk about to make this less awkward… football? The weather?

I am a doctor, and this is what I do at work.  Really.

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Filed under emergency medicine, intern year

triage

The average triage note:

35 yo  F 10 weeks pregnancy had seizure, similar to szs in past.

68 yo M with cardiac history here with chest pain, started this morning.

25 yo M sore throat.

Yes, boring. But today things took a turn toward crazy:

48 yo M felt the need to direct traffic today to keep the city safe, given orders by the dept of justice to direct traffic on a different corner.

24 yo F needs to get pregnant.

33 yo F has a painful rectum and can’t stop eating.

Really.  How can you not love this job? In other news, today instead of asking my patient if she has diabetes or hypertension in her past medical history I instead asked her if she has diapertension.  Yes, diapertension.



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Filed under clerkships, emergency medicine, med school, medical school, medical student

mr. bossman

I met my patient when he was boarded and collared, on a stretcher in the hallway.  He is a hispanic man who was recently in a car accident who arrived with a relatively complicated facial laceration.  He speaks a tiny bit of English, I speak a tiny bit of Spanish.  He is a nice man, and somehow we  manage to create a rapport.

A while later he’s been moved into a room and I arrive back with the suture kit.  Now there is a dirt covered, young, white man in the room with him.  My patient’s employer introduces himself to me.  This man, no older than me, immediately (and with a lack of social graces) wants to know how long this will take.  I told him that realistically we have two more hours.  But for him, that just wouldn’t do.  Well, sir, your friend was in a car accident.  We’ve determined he doesn’t have any serious injuries but he has a pretty bad cut in a pretty bad place.  We need to do a slit lamp exam to rule out any corneal abrasions and then will need to sew him up.  By the looks of that cut the suturing alone could take over an hour.

Yeah but he still doesn’t understand why it will take two hours.  Two hours at minimun, I reminded him.  “Okay, but see,” (and he lowers his voice) “I’ve got a van outside full of five guys  outside,” (he glances over to my patient), “and there’s no AC.  Can you ask whoever is in charge if he can speed the process along?”

Um, really? You have a van outside with five men in it with no AC? Are they locked in? Aren’t they adults? Might they step outside for some fresh air? Must be a completely legal and humane operation you’ve got going on. And b.t.w., I am in charge of how long this process will take.

At this point another med student walks into the room, he’s checking to see if I need any more materials.  The boss looks at him.  Oh hey doc,  how long you think it’s going to take you to do this?

As I secure knot number two Mr. Bossman decides to confide in me about how he once sewed up his knee with no anasthetic.  Good work, buddy, you must be really tough.

Suture number three I ask my patient if he’s feeling anything.  “Feeling any pain? Need some more pain meds?” Mr. Bossman feels the need to translate for me, “Hey buddy, hurt-o?”

Listening to the conversation next door I advanced another suture through my patient’s lower eye-lid.  Mr. Bossman, who was hovering over my every move, was apparently eaves-dropping on the same conversation.

… and do you take any medications at home?

AT HOME? YES! OF COURSE I TAKE MEDS AT HOME.  AND I LIVE WITH MY STINKIN HUSBAND. TWO OF MY FIVE WORTHLESS KIDS, FIVE GRANDCHILDREN, TWO DOGS, AND ONE CAT.  AND A SON-IN-LAW, EFFING JERK.

… okay, I understand.  But can you tell me what medications you are on?

YOU THINK THAT’S YOUR BUSINESS? I CAN’T BREATH. WHO ARE YOU? YOU ARE A DOCTOR? YOU ARE FIVE YEARS OLD. I WANT TO GO TO A REAL HOSPITAL AND I WANT TO SEE A REAL DOCTOR.

I have a smile on my face because seriously, how can you not get a kick out of this stuff?  By the pattern of her speech I can tell this woman is having no real difficulty breathing and I know the resident in the room next to me is having the same thought process. I am curious to see how this conversation will play out and to see how he will manage to gracefully worm his way out of her room.  I sense my patient’s employer looking at me.  Apparently he thinks we’re good friends now.  “Wow, you must see all kinds of assholes in this place.”

I secure the last knot and  don’t bother to make eye contact. “You have no idea.”

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Filed under clerkships, emergency medicine, med school, medical school, medical student, Medicine

oh hello, uterus

We were scrubbed and gowned, standing in the OR around a pregnant, sterilized belly.

My attending said to the resident, “you’ve done enough of these, right?  Right.  Okay, then let the med student take a turn.”

My pulse rate doubled.  Shit. And so I reluctantly turned to the scrub nurse, “Scalpel, please.”

Scalpel in hand I sliced through the skin and into the fascia, trying to hold my hand steady and maneuver a straight line.  At first I was too shy, “Come on, med student, CUT.”  But as I neared midline I had the hang of it.  Not bad, I thought, and found myself secretly hoping the procedure called for another incision.  A number of steps later we’re through the rectus sheath, pulling in either direction on the rectus muscle, and there it was, the uterus.  Inside that ball of a compartment is a tiny little human being.  The resident made the cut through the uterus, fluid gushed and spurted, and we saw the head.  Well, I guess they saw the head.  I saw fluid and smooth surfaces, shiny surfaces, dark surfaces and blood.

Extracting the head out of the uterus took some muscle.  I applied fundal pressure on the upper abdomen while the resident pulled.  And finally, a baby. I was so wrapped up in things I forgot to notice whether it was a boy or a girl.

I was sweaty and tired and ready to de-gown but looked up and realized the abdomen was still wide open.  Oh right, not finished.  We pulled out the uterus and plopped it on her abdomen.  Oh hello, uterus.  Wait, what? Really? This is how we do this? Through the blood we stitched it back together and shoved it back inside so we could could start putting her back together, layer by layer.  When we got to the rectus sheath, the only part of the procedure in which the sutures are proven to make a difference, the attending handed me the needle and pick-ups.  Shit.  Okay, I guess I’m gonna sew this up.

Once again, my hands were shaking, my mask was foggy, and by this time I was wondering if they would make fun of me for sweating through my gown.  I was taking my sweet old time (because that’s all I’m capable of at this point) and everyone in the room (scrub nurse, circulating nurse, anesthesiologist, attending, resident) was willing me to hurry-the-f-up with their pissed-off glares.  Sorry guys, I know it’s 2am, did I mention I have never done this before?

But I did it.  I cut her up and sewed her up.  And she got a little baby girl.

To the scrub nurse: “Suture scissors, please.” The resident cut suture 1cm above the knot. “Needle down.”

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Filed under clerkships, med school, medical school, medical student

bad things

A colleague came up to me with a pained look on his face, “Something kind of bad just happened…”

I had NO idea where this was going.  Did you break up with your girlfriend? You missed your patient’s hypokalemia and she started having chest pain? You put a note in the wrong chart? A nurse yelled at you again?

“My stethoscope just fell into the toilet.”

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Filed under clerkships, jokes, med school, medical school, medical student, Medicine

i don’t hate christmas, i’m just busy as shit

A few months ago when I was in my peds rotation and my roommate was on her surgery rotation I told her she was being a crank. She started to cry.

I am 6.5 weeks into my surgery rotation.  I feel shackled to the operating room and thoroughly sleep deprived.  This Sunday will be my first day away from the hospital in 14 days.

The other evening my roommate, who is now in her peds rotation, accused me of not liking Christmas.  What did I do? For no clear reason, I started to cry.

And then both of us, who are actually considering going into this ridiculous field, started cracking up.

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a joke

Yesterday a patient told me a joke:

What’s the difference between a surgeon and God?

God knows he is not a surgeon.

Funny only because it is so true.

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Filed under clerkships, jokes, medical school, medical student, Medicine