Saturday, February 23, 2008

Happy Birthday, Blawg

I’ve got a couple of exams next week. Oh, what did I do to deserve SPM and Ophthalmology exams two working days apart? Speaking of working days, I’m posted in Dermatology now. The seven year itch. Gah.

The images in the textbook are guaranteed to give you nightmares for a week. I am still stuck in the conjunctiva, and I have the rest of the eye left. Not to mention the optic nerve. I have two hundred pages more. Two. Hundred. Pages. And that’s just the eye.

And I have a 103° F fever. It came free with the cough that scares away all the stray dogs in my street. Oh, and a headache. Hell would have a blizzard before it rains here. I’m not allowed to shower because of the stoopid fever.


I’ll be back after the exams, if I live.

UPDATE: Those swines at the Department of Ophthalmology set us questions for SIXTEEN MARKS from topics that weren’t included. *insert all the swear words you know here* They aren't even pretending that they intend for us to pass. If you hear of angry students lynching some ophthalmologist, that's us.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Labours of Pancruleas

I knew I would say this sometime, but I wanted to give it some time. Well, labour room was fun. We got to do a lot of cool stuff that only *cough* doctors get to do. You know, like, “Adrenaline, stat!” and “Damn, here comes the next patient.”

The 12 hour shifts had a funny (ha-ha) way of warping time, so I usually never knew the day of the week or the hour of the day. Or my own name, for that matter. The time left until the end of the of the shift was measured by the state of my feet (not-so bad, uncomfortable, painful, agonising, kill-me-now, I-must-have-died-and-this-is-hell). Oh, and the level of disorientation. I distinctly recall getting an infusion set ready when I was asked to check a patient’s blood pressure.

Did you know that we don’t notice the sex of the baby unless we remember to check? The nurse is the person who notes things like that and tell the patient. It’s an automated process for us- take baby out, hold it upside down, clamp the cord, cut it, hold onto clamp at baby’s end and place baby on tray held out by the nurse, check for perineal lacerations/extension of episiotomy wound, wait for the placenta to be expelled, deliver the placenta with ‘rocking movements’, make sure the placenta is intact, throw away the placenta, place vaginal pack, suture episiotomy wound, remove pack, remove clots, clean the area, extend back to get rid of cramps, throw away gloves, and find a chair so you can finally. Sit. Down. By which time the next patient's uterus thinks it would be a great time to contract in earnest, and you do all this all over again. It was a masochist's heaven.

And now, you can release that breath you didn’t know you were holding, because I shall now proceed to justify the horribly not-so-funny-as-punny title. Things that I did during my labour room posting.

* Catheterised patients whose urine output needed to be measured. And terrifically awesome li’l me did not insert it into the wrong opening (which is a common mistake for all first-timers). I am awesome, no?

* Inserted an intravenous cannula. Foley’s catheters are mere playthings when compared to a cannula, I tell you. You have to find a good vein with a straight course, and make sure it goes into the vein, and not above, under, beside, or through the vein. It took me a lot of tries (yes, you’re allowed to sympathise with the patient, but I poked her while she was having a contraction, so she barely noticed the needle), and I would be really disappointed at each failure. And when I finally did get it right, I kissed everyone in sight. (Read: Skoda, who had threatened to hamstring me if I did not.) The side effect of this is a vampire-like interest in the veins on people's arms. Every time I see a good vein, I get this almost irrepressible urge to establish IV access.

* Assisted the post graduate student in a twin delivery. This was an unusual occurrence; twin deliveries are assisted by PG students themselves. It was awesome. And they were identical twins (or MCDA, as we *cough* doctors refer to it)!

* Sutured episiotomy wounds. It’s done in 3 layers- mucosa, muscle, and skin. Continuous stitches for the mucosa, interrupted simple stitches for the muscle, and mattress stitches for the skin. I got over my suturing phobia, and LEARNING A COOL SURGICAL KNOT might have something to do with it.

* I learnt to TIE A COOL SURGICAL KNOT that makes me look very skilled and experienced. *cough*

* Delivered a first of twin in a breech presentation. I was going to assist the medical officer (MO), but I had gotten ready before she did, and was with the patient when a little butt started coming out. And the other MO (who was not prepared- did not even have gloves on) screamed at me to get it out. This was a horribly complicated case- the patient was only 26 weeks along, but her blood pressure had made friends with satellites and was refusing to come down. One of the babies was already dead, so they decided to terminate the pregnancy by giving her a drug to make her uterus contract. I was very upset at having to deliver a dead baby my first time, and was almost in tears. By then the other MO had worn all the protective gear and she took over. So I didn’t really deliver the child, but I did hold it for a while. Imagine my joy when the baby cried after being born. It was the live twin! The dead one came out a few minutes later. Macerated babies are a horrible sight.

* Delivered a baby. No, it didn’t hurt one bit, why do you ask? The womanpower* shortage during the strike turned out to be a blessing for us interns. I had a baby boy, who weighed 2.99 kilograms, at about 4:15 PM on the 7th of February, 2008. I hope he will turn out to look like the COOL *cough* DOCTOR who brought him into the world. Isn’t he cute? Say he is cute.

* Gave an amnioinfusion. It is a procedure in which fluid is infused into the uterus through a needle inserted through the abdomen and uterine wall. One of the indications for an amnioinfusion is meconium staining of amniotic fluid. The MO on duty inserted the tube into the uterus, and asked me to keep it in place with my hand, and I got to feel the baby’s head while it was still inside the uterus. It felt awesome. This is a dangerous procedure, performed only by experienced doctors. What can I say? The strike strikes again, folks.

* Got a patient’s relatives to consent for a Caesarean section. They decided that it was too risky to induce labour in the patient I gave the amnioinfusion, because it would still take a lot of time, and we could lose the baby any moment. So they sent me to get her relatives to consent for a C-section while they got the patient’s and prepared her for surgery. The patient had been married only a few months, her husband was abroad (somewhere in the Gulf, the capital of Kerala), and her younger brother was the only male available. (We do not generally ask the womenfolk’s consent, because they have a habit of wailing and beating their chests and becoming incomprehensible when the word ‘operation’ is mentioned). He visibly shook when I explained the situation to him, but he pulled himself together and signed the papers for the surgery.

* Scrubbed in as the first assistant for a Caesarean section. The MO told me I could assist her with the C-section for the patient I had just given the amnioinfusion to. I was thrilled, and also: rather worried. I have a history of screwing up at things I eagerly looked forward to. I scrubbed in with some apprehension, and entered the theatre as they were anaesthetising the patient. I need not have worried, because you know what? The MO said that I HAVE A NATURAL INSTINCT FOR SURGERY! Woo hoo! I totally rock! I mopped the area at all the right times so that the surgeon had a clear field, retracted the abdominal wall perfectly, used the suction judiciously, gave proper assistance with the delivery of the baby (he looked as if he was wallowing in shit, which he was) who was immediately whisked off to the neonatologist, held the catgut taut with just the right amount of pressure, and was generally indispensable. Go, me! I learnt that wielding the knife is a completely different experience from merely observing a surgery being performed, and thus I managed to get over my antipathy to surgery. I still hate ObG, though. Some things never change.

* Gave injections. Only qualified doctors are allowed to administer drugs to patients, but I gave quite a few injections during the strike. Intravenous injections are child’s play when given through an in situ intravenous cannula, but if you aren’t careful, an intramuscular injection can even cause paralysis. Nebulisation, on the other hand, is quite easy.

* Stayed up an entire night in the ICU. There was a seriously ill patient in the ICU, and there were too many patients in the ICU for one PG and a nurse (they were the only people on duty in the ICU) to take care of, so they recruited me to look after her. Also, the ventilator would occasionally die, and then I’d have to manually ventilate her until it kicked back in. I didn’t sleep a wink that night, but I found that I loved critical care. It was FREAKIN’ AWESOME! I can honestly say that the patient would have died if I hadn’t been there. It feels wonderful to be able to say that.

So, those were some of the previously impossible things for me that I am now *cough* proficient in. I would see about 30 patients each day, which means that almost a thousand patients were admitted to the labour room in a month. And the most surprising thing is, we did not lose a single patient! How fantastic is that? And given that all of us were in a constant state of disorientation, and quite a few of the procedures are done by students (heavily supervised, but you know… People like me. Scary thought, no?), this is plain awesome. I LOVE BEING A *cough* DOCTOR.

*Most ObG's here are women.

PS: I seem to be coughing a lot. I hope it isn’t cancer. It would be awful for a *cough* doctor to die so young.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


I feel like a Holocaust survivor. I nearly kissed everything in sight when I came home that fateful night, like liberated hostages do on TV. I’m done with the labour room, peoples!

I survived 12 hour shifts, back breaking work, chori, two strikes, petty fights, starvation, chori, sleepless nights, ear piercing shrieks, chori, and a whole lot of other things (it’s impossible to summarise the events of an eventful month into a few words), and returned with my sanity* more or less intact. Chori (irritating, scratching, annoying, makes-you –want-to-punch-them, the English language needs a word for chori) is what the PG students posted in the labour room are. Ob-G practitioners are usually excellent choris. I have no clue as to the reason, but I believe it has something to do with the view. No normal woman would consciously choose to spend her life among other women.

One of the Orthopaedics PG students (there I go again, talking about Ortho PGs. Cut me some slack, people, this has a point.) got beaten up by a drunken gang of engineering students. The hero, who, unlike most orthopaedic wannabes, was not built like Hulk Hogan and the Hulk combined, was on duty in the casualty one night, when a group of drunken engineering students came in with broken bones, acquired after a bout of drunken driving. He gave one of them a test dose for a painkiller injection, and asked them to wait for a few minutes while the allergy to the drug (if present) manifested itself. Those intellectual beings promptly beat him up (who was up at that hour just so he could treat effing creeps like them). He’s still in the hospital, his broken neck still in a brace and minus his spleen. This was the second incident in a month. If it can happen to one doctor, it can happen to any doctor, and the PG Association protested by calling a strike. The House Surgeons’ Association immediately declared their support and joined the strike. This left the entire labour room in the capable hands of 15 interns (us, in case you didn’t realise) and 3 medical officers. And guess what? We had FUN! I delivered a baby, gave an amnioinfusion to a woman girl (she was freakin’ 20 years old.) whose baby had crapped while still inside the uterus (it’s a very dangerous condition, the baby might aspirate that stuff and die), I scrubbed in and assisted (woohoo!) the Caesarean section for that same woman, and generally had a blast.

Medicos did not participate in the strike. This says a lot about the thinking abilities of the college union members. Why is the fate of medical students left to the votes of nursing students and lab technician trainees? I hate politics, or I would elaborate. I did get to do a lot of cool stuff I normally would not get to do, so I'm not complaining, but I wish someone would explain to me why we do not join the strike. I would have loved the break. I mean, I was in that *multiple expletives deleted* labour room every single day (Sundays included) for a month. For at least 12 hours a day.

I have to go study now. Because some retard has decided to start our exams this Saturday. My oh-so-important internal assessment exam. The one which I really need to pass. GAH.

*What I had to begin with. Which wouldn’t fill a thimble.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

I'm No Masochist

I smell of the hospital. I cannot manage to wash the smell out of my hair. I don't know what kind of fluids live on my stethoscope. Not a single day has passed in which I did not have blood fall on some exposed part of my body. The house surgeons treat us like their personal slaves. The PG students act like we exist solely for them to vent their frustration. The teachers pretend we don't exist. Out of the 12 hours I spend in that bloody place, I sit down only to eat. I don't know what day it is. I think I have another week in the LR left. Time has lost all meaning. And people want to know why I hate the labour room.

All of us are giving way under the strain. Many talk in their sleep. A couple were bitten by the God bug. Me, I just lose my temper over small things. Like my mom switching off the light in my room because she thought I was in another room. I threw a tantrum that day. And kicked at everything that was lighter than my body weight. Oh, and that reminds me of another funny thing. Ha ha. My weight has hit an all time low in 6 years because I don't have time to eat.

I can't stand many of my fellow interns now. I hate slackers who expect the rest of the world to do their jobs. Only, the rest of the world happens to be me. Even my inner workaholic is overworked. Pulse, BP, results, monitoring, consents, blood, foetal monitor, pitocin, cannula, Ringer's lactate, transfusion reaction, non stress tests, contraction stress tests, partographs, catheterisation, injection, placenta, prostaglandins, leggings, post partum haemorrhage, apron, abruptio placentae, pre-term labour, gestational hypertension, obstructed labour, twins, pre-eclampsia, forceps, vacuum, gloves, infusion sets, normal saline, foetal hypoxia, post natal monitoring, couvelaire uterus, hepatitis B, unmarried primis, premature rupture of membranes, second trimester abortions, intra uterine death, neonatal deaths, cleft palate, TORCH complex anomalies... I've had enough.

I think I'll go see what hara-kiri feels like. It's bound to be less painful than this.