I won't go into details as to how this was arranged, but it's one of those things that I've always wanted to see in person. Although I don't want any of it done on me, I really think that modern doctoral wizardry is pretty incredible. As a side note - if anyone reading this can get me behind the scenes anywhere cool, send me an e-mail. I'll write about it (or not, if you prefer).
My friend and I arrived at the hospital super early. It was an old person getting a knee replacement, and old people like doing things really early. I had only racked up a few hours of sleep, but the excitement kept me wide awake.
I parked the RV and went inside. We were a little bit late, so we were given scrubs, doctor's masks, doctor hats, and ushered into the operating room with no warning.
I assumed we'd be in some sort of observation area, but we were standing just a few feet away from the patient's knee, which was cut open with the bones exposed. I expected to be grossed out, but it was really incredible.
The doctor explained everything as he went along, which was an unexpected benefit.
"Now I'm going to drill into the bone to set up a guide. These procedures are much more successful with an exact angle."
He picked up a drill with a huge bit and drilled 9" into the femur. At least I think it was the femur - what do I know? He then jammed a large guide rod down the bone and used a bone saw to remove the surface of the knee.
It was intense.
Bone fragments were flying everywhere. The nurse turned her head to the side to avoid getting chunks of bone and blood on her face. She was somewhat successful. The doctor pulled out a chunk of fat with some pliers and said, "this is what fat looks like...". He showed us the cartilage that prevents bones from rubbing on each other, and pointed out the area where it had worn down.
After half an hour they began fitting the prosthesis. It was a lull in the non stop action of bone sawing and tissue removing that we'd been enjoying.
My eyes wandered across the tables full of instruments. Some of them looked like dentist tools, others like carpentry tools, and some defied classification.
Suddenly my stomach began to grumble. All I'd eaten was a banana. Another grumble. This wasn't hunger, this was something else. My mouth began to taste slightly of blood. I reflexively looked at the blood pooling in the knee and the comparison made my stomach worse.
I need to take some deep breaths, I thought.
No. I need to get out of here and get some fresh air. I began to walk to the door.
I tried to open my eyes. They felt open, but I couldn't see anything. I strained them wider. It was mostly black, but there was something else there. I could hear voices trying to talk to me, but I wa so focused on seeing that I couldn't comprehend them. Panic. Where am I? What's the last thing I remember? How does it relate to this? Am I dead?
Slowly my vision came to me. I found myself on the floor of the operating room. I had passed out and hit my head on the linoleum floor. A nurse brought me back into the doctor's lounge where I sat, disappointed.
It was strange - it never seemed gross to me. I hadn't even considered that I would faint. I was disappointed that I couldn't control it, and even more disappointed that I was missing the rest of the surgery. I thought about going back in, but didn't want to become a nuisance.
After the surgery was over a 70 year old doctor sat down and told me, "This happens to a lot of people. I hope this doesn't discourage you. It just takes some getting used to."
That's good. Hopefully I'll have another chance to see a surgery.
Yes, I'm familiar with waking up feeling like a plonker for having flaked out in the presence of a doctor...several nurses had to carry me out one time. Not my finest hour!
Ah don't feel too bad. My sister passed out twice witnessing surgeries when she interned for a couple of doctors before Med school. Now she's a doctor in the ER!
Right now I'm deciding whether to take a job in the operating theater (?) for that social year you need to do here.
Hmm... It's pretty cool but I can't be doing with knees and stuff. Blood, gore, pus... fine. But show me someone's knee bent horribly the wrong way or being hacked up with a saw and I'm gone.
You might not have passed out from being grossed out. It might have been caused by standing in one position with your knees locked for too long. That will screw up your circulation and make you black out. It happened to me when I was a little kid and was in a wedding.
Hey, at least you didn't throw up.
I've gotten light-headed in a hospital before (visiting someone). Instead of walking away, I immediately crouched down and sat on the ground. It kept me from passing out and falling over. Try that next time. ;)
Today I came home from having dinner with my parents and I picked up my mail. I hadn't checked it in a while, so there was a buildup of flyers, bills, and solicitations. Nothing too interesting. As I came to the bottom of the stack I saw a hand written envelope.
It wasn't written to me, though. It was addressed to the former resident.
I flipped it in my hands for a half a second and decided to open it. I thought to myself that it was my duty to check it. Maybe it was important. Really, I'm just too curious for my own good.
“Even now the light of florescent medical bulbs makes me feel panic. It is to the point where if I need to visit a doctor or go to the hospital they need to give me a Xanax just to get me in the door. Thankfully, most of the people at the hospital are aware of my condition and make sure to leave a note of it in my records. The sound of bells remains terrifying to me as well, and easily the hardest time of the year is around Christmas. I keep the radio off at all times, and have to warn people when I come to a party. I still try to give to the Salvation Army, specifically those ringers of the bells outside of the local store. When I do though, I always have to ask the person I am with or a stranger to do it for me.
I was eight months pregnant when I noticed the bleeding between my legs. I was working at the elementary school, and so the ambulance took very little time to get to me. It was during lunch thank God, so I was eating in the teachers lounge when it happened. I couldn't bear the thought of the children seeing me like that. The school covered my absence well enough that day, though in the weeks that followed the student's questions only made things harder for me. I don't think it surprised anyone when I took an extended leave after the term had finished.
I arrived at the hospital in terrible pain. The doctors said that everything should be okay, but I knew what was going on. There were...complications with my pregnancy. I kept telling them to try and save my baby, that if it came between the baby and my life, that they should save my child. They planned on opening me up as opposed to trying to see if they could induce a natural birth. It didn't take long for them to insert the pain killers. I kept thinking about my baby, and how much I wanted them to live. Then the nurses asked me to count back from five. I was unconscious at three.
I awoke in another room. My body felt horrible, and there were bandages placed below my midsection. I was alone, and for a short time I was in too much of a haze to realize what had happened. Then it suddenly came back, as I felt a wet fear pass over me. I pressed the call button and waited anxiously for the nurse. I tried to sit up, but a flash of pain stopped me, as I felt myself nearly pass out again. What had happened to my body? The nurse arrived, and I only had one question on my mind.
“Did my baby make it?”