Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Alexis in the Sky With Diamonds

what I may look like in twenty-four hours


I was the victim of a freak accident at the very end of my workday earlier this evening, and now I'm in extreme pain. I didn't bother to fill a prescription for pain meds because I didn't think they would be needed. Suffice it to say that I was wrong. Dead wrong.

My supervising resident and I were going over charts. My presence isn't really needed in order for him to go over the charts, as the guy does not allow me  to actually write anything in a patient's chart, but he has been unbelievably reluctant to allow me to leave before his workday has finished even though my workday has usually started roughly two hours before his began. He invents work for me so that he can justify making me stay. He asked me to read all of the charts before he made notations and to comment. He then made his notations and asked me to read them. In most cases he wrote down what I said verbatim. The activity was a complete waste of my time.

For some reason unbeknownst to me, the resident had his laptop in the physicians' computer pod.  Residents don't usually need their personal laptops, but his was there, plugged in and charging. As he was finishing up, he picked up his laptop, apparently forgetting that it was plugged in. The adapter part of the charger flew off the table on which it had been resting. It swung and hit my left lateral malleolus (the wide protuberance of the fibula where it reaches the ankle) very hard and probably, judging from the residual bruise, struck my ankle with one of its edges. It was a relatively flukish occurrence -- probably not even in the top five of flukish accidents involving me, but still a rather freak happening. I don't think the two of us could recreate the mishap with the same outcome if we attempted it a hundred times.

My immediate reaction to the rendezvous between my fibula and the resident's charger was to fall to the floor, clutching my ankle, and to let loose with a string of expletives. The resident was at first taken aback by my choice of words and by the volume at which I unleashed them, and lost no time in rebuking me for having risked offending someone. Then another resident standing nearby took a closer look at my ankle and said it appeared to be broken. "No fucking way!" the supervising resident blurted out at roughly twice the volume I used in my expletive rant. I can only assume that the degree of affront caused by the utterance of expletives is to be considered inversely proportional to the importance of the person from whose mouth they emerge.

My supervising resident knelt to look at my ankle.  "With ankles the size of yours, " he rationalized, "you really should keep them covered for your own protection. My charger could not have hit you that hard.  This was not my fault.
You have defective bones."

"Way to blame the victim, spaz," another resident contributed.

Someone sent a nurse for a wheelchair and someone else got ice. I was taken to radiology and wheeled in ahead of God knows how many people who were waiting. I suppose there should be some advantage to having been maimed by a senior resident. A technician quickly took the necessary shots of my leg. The films were ready almost immediately. The residents huddled around them. My supervising resident was incredulous at what he saw. "It had to have been broken before my charger hit her!" he insisted.

"Right," another resident responded. "Your charger just happened to hit her foot in exactly the place where the bone had previously been broken. She managed to work all day on a broken fibula without once complaining about it. You realize how stupid that sounds, don't you?"

The supervising resident then turned to me. "You know I didn't do this on purpose, I hope," he told me.

I laughed. "You couldn't have done it on purpose if you had tried," I answered.

The jerk actually argued that he could have purposely have done it if he had tried. I didn't even engage him. I looked away and let him talk to the wall. It's the same moron who insisted that there's no such thing as perfect pitch. He would argue with a cadaver if there were no live body present.

"I'm really sorry," he said for the first time.  

I accepted his apology. Someone went to show the X-ray to the orthopedic resident who was on the floor. I was moved from the X-ray room to an empty exam table. The orthopedic resident came in and poked and prodded, then felt my toes to ensure that the blood supply was getting through. He told someone to put a temporary cast on it and said I needed to be seen in two days. He said that someone needed to give me a prescription for hydrocodone. I said I wouldn't need it. He told me to fill it anyway. I didn't. 

He was right and I was wrong. I've been awake with my entire leg throbbing all night. I suspect that in addition to the fracture, I did some additional damage when I fell. Matthew has to be at work at 6:30. He will drop my prescription off then. I'll get someone to bring the goods here for me.

The resident told me not even to think about showing up tomorrow (which is now today). Someone drove me home in my car. I'm not sure how the person got back, but I don't him lurking outside, so I assume that someone must have picked him up. 

I've been watching youtube videos all night in a futile attempt to distract myself from the pain. I had forgotten how much fractures hurt. I still think I'd take a fracture over a perforated intestine as long as it's not a spine, skull, hip, or pelvis fracture, but it's far from a fun way to spend an evening. I don't plan to be in pain tomorrow night. By this time tomorrow I will probably have kaleidoscope eyes.

3 comments:

  1. I hope by the time you read this you are not in too much pain. Your story also illustrates that not all residents are egomaniacal buffoons, but we all know some that are.
    Given the choice between hydrocodone and LSD I think you have the right med on board and I do know the difference from experience. :)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Jono. I've probably said more about this than I should, as the school is treating me really well and I don't want to bad-mouth them by association. It's probably fine to say that the attending physician called me at home about ten minutes after I posted. He guessed correctly that I would be awake. he said the radiologist and an attending orthopedic surgeon had looked at my films and were concerned about the integrity of the artery following my particular fracture. The attending asked when I had last eaten. I told him that I drank 7-Up when I got home at 9:30 but threw most of it up. He said the orthopedic surgeon wanted to operate right away. My brother drove me to the hospital and
      my fibula was surgically repaired. I'm in a tight-fitting boot which I'm not allowed to remove myself, but the surgeon didn't want to cast the leg just yet. I did a bit of a number on the ACL when I went down, but it should heal with the rest that the malleolus will need, and they'll cast it higher for that purpose.

      I'm not feeling much pain at the moment.

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