Sunday, April 17, 2011

Trauma, Charlotte Maxeke Hospital, Day 1

Not going to be taken seriously with this pouting pic.
 Started my trauma rotation yesterday. Everything was all hunky-dory until about two hours in when I started feeling really faint, I couldn't stand for longer than 10 minutes and I'd need to sit down. Which, as you can imagine, in a trauma unit is very frustrating and made me feel a bit useless + I'm on a diet (not really, just watching what I eat because I haven't had time to gym). What was worse was that I ended up running to the bathroom and then passing out in the corridor. Thankfully a very sweet nurse found me, picked me up and then continued to follow and dote on me the entire shift, watching me like a hawk in case I fell over again! Here's me a 5ft.2 doctor with a baby face trying to be taken seriously in a serious trauma unit and then I go and pass out! Arg! 
I think I'm used to seeing sick people in all sorts of states but seeing a live person on the brink of death, not breathing and pouring out blood profusely is a completely different vasovagal experience on it's own!

 It's interesting to see the experienced trauma guys on call switch off and go into the zone, they're like terminators on a mission (search and destroy the pathology) which I can imagine must be pretty scary for the patients. Another thing that amazes me is the amount of people who get shot, stabbed or thrown out their cars in this town! I'm blessed that I've received my medical training here in South Africa where maybe our high rate of violent crime deters most but for me it provides an ideal environment to receive the best training in the world in trauma and emergency care.

"In a sand-coated tent hospital, Navy doctor Mark Hernandez, right, checks on a Marine whose leg bones were shattered by an improvised explosive device (IED). The hospital, part of a surgical and trauma unit, was originally designed to break down quickly and follow frontline action. Because fighting has congealed around specific cities and towns, many such portable units have abandoned tents for more permanent facilities." Mantra: I will be as hard core as these guys!
Well I eventually had to get over myself (and my diet), bought a coke and got my hands in. I worked my butt off for the rest shift and got a great compliment from the trauma surgeon on call in the end!

 I remember during an episode of Boston Med how one nurse would treat every patient like they were a relative. Every old man like her dad, every young girl like her sister and she inspired me to do the same. It makes you very protective of them and gets rid of all laziness and mediocracy. Yes it might be tricky if they die or the prognosis isn't favorable but in the words of C.S Lewis:

 "To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable."

"Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person's ultimate good as far as it can be obtained." 

My trauma course packs and Moleskine notebook where I jot down everything I learn. Finding the big (not so portable) A4 guide is a bit silly because I can't carry it around in my backpack - talking about backpacks I'm still searching for the perfect one that's comfy but matches all my scrubs (difficult endeavor).

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