Stitches and Sutures

I'm a 25-year-old second-year medical student living in Ontario, Canada. I'm pretty sure that the only way to stay sane in medical school is to have a life outside of medical school, and knitting is one of my chosen diversions.

Location: Ontario, Canada

Friday, January 27, 2006


Today was my first day of actual clinical time in my anesthesia rotation. For the first four days of the rotation, we did classroom and simulator stuff. It was very interesting and fun, but I was really looking forward to seeing real human beings.

I worked with a really nice anesthesiologist today, who let me do lots of stuff (intubating being the most exciting - that's where you stick a tube down someone's trachea so the ventilator can breathe for them while they're unconscious during surgery) and treated me really well. Once she found out that I had once been a nursing student, she let me draw up all the drugs as well. (This is one of those things that will only be exciting the first ten times, then I suspect it becomes a chore.) Some intravenous drugs come in these disposable glass ampules. To open them, you grab the top part in one hand and the bottom in the other, and snap the top off. It seems a little crazy to be breaking glass with your bare hands, but I have done it many times (more in nursing than med school) and it actually works fine - usually. Of course I was trying to look all suave and not like a totally clueless med student today, so when my supervisor asked me to draw up a med from one of these ampules, I jumped to do it. Except when I snapped the top off of it, I crushed it, and I put a huge cut in my index finger. There I was, bleeding all over the place in the OR. My supervisor was scrambling for gauze and one of the nurses had to go digging for a bandaid. So much for cool!! "Pride goes before a fall," and all that, I suppose.

Other than the ampule incident, it was a pretty uneventful day. It was pretty much "private parts" day for me - gyne and urology surgeries. It was a nice mix of long and short cases. Long cases are kind of good because there's lots of time in the middle while the patient is sleeping (provided that they don't drop their blood pressure or something) for the doc to do some teaching and for me to ask questions. However, the most interesting parts of anesthesia are putting the patient to sleep and waking them up, so a day of only long surgeries would probably mean quite a bit less hands-on experience. Short operations are less involved in terms of drugs and have less time for teaching, but I got to do three intubations in two hours this afternoon, which is definitely a plus. It was a good mix.

I have my first "on call" shift on Sunday - except it's not some crazy all night thing, I just have to be there 0800 to 1600. Pretty sweet. I can continue to dread "real" call for at least another week.


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