12 January 2011

Surgery begins

On Monday I began my vascular surgery month. It's now Wednesday night and I have already worked 31.25 hours. They have us track because we aren't supposed to go over 80 in a week. Legally we can, but they don't want us to have it worse than the interns. How generous. Not that they would actually send us home if we hit 80; they just want to know.

Regardless, I spent day 1 in lectures and the simulation center; days 2 and 3 involved rounding and then hitting the OR. The OR is an interesting mix of incredibly cool and unbelievably boring. There are moments when you are helping, being quizzed (or taught) or watching something insane. Those are the cool parts. Then there are long stretches of time when you are largely ignored, uninvolved and staring obliquely at something which is probably an organ or blood vessel. You try your best to stay out of the way, remain sterile and ignore the aching in your back and feet. And the fact that you are hungry. And need to pee. Those would be the boring bits. Thankfully, the vascular attendings are somewhat more enthusiastic about teaching than reputation would have you believe and they like playing music and cracking jokes in the OR. This helps the time move more quickly.

In fact, one of the patients today was under sedation (rather than anesthesia and thus is partially awake) and requested Barry White be played. We complied and he sang along! This while we were debriding his horrendous foot ulcer and stenting open his right leg arteries by sending a catheter down his left arm. Bonus, one of the nurses showed me where she keeps her stash of peanutbutter Dove chocolates... score!

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