Thursday, October 20, 2016

Get Thee to a Nunnery!

I was especially feeling the effects of the medication I'm currently taking earlier this evening and missed out on the presidential debate, which I had really wanted to catch. Now I'm limited to the reviews. Fox News says it was an overwhelming victory for Trump. MSNBC says it was an equally overwhelming victory for Clinton. The rest seem to think it fell somewhere between the two extremes.

It's a really good thing that I have done nothing that would have exposed me to the possibility of becoming pregnant because were such not the case, I would be almost 98% certain I was pregnant and suffering from hyperemesis gravidarium. There are few advantages to practically living the life of a nun, but I suppose I'm now reaping the benefits.

My job still consists for the next couple of weeks of non-physical contact with patients for liability purposes. I can take vital stats while wearing gloves, but that is the more or less the extent of physical  contact. I can't insert IVs, which is an area of strength for me, and makes it hard for me to watch when someone else is having trouble with a difficult vein, such as a child's or a vein belonging to a dehydrated adult. I'm confident in my skills, and I knew I could have nailed either the little girl's or the sick guy's IV in one attempt tonight , but I'm not permitted to do so right now.

I walked into a messy situation when I arrived a couple of hours earlier than usual tonight. A fatal auto accident had just happened. I didn't even see the drunk driver who didn't make it, but was left to deal with survivors. I held a five-year-old girl on my lap (with a blanket between us minimizing the contact) while her parents were both being treated for more serious trauma than she was.  I sat with her and attempted to keep her calm (with the help of drugs) through the radiology, neurological assessment,  and setting of a bone. Someone had to be with her until relatives from out of state arrived to assume custody of her, and that someone was I.  The family was visiting on a work-related trip from Nevada and had no local contacts. I read to the little girl for a bit, but mostly we just watched TV. She kept dozing off, but anytime I tried to move her to the bed, she woke up and cried to be held again. Her parents will recover from their injuries. Father had  three  broken vertebrae and a more significant head injury, but no resulting paralysis; mother had some internal injuries in addition to [or because of] broken ribs, but she, too will recover. They were hit head-on while driving on a state highway by someone who crossed the center line while driving under the influence. As I mentioned earlier, he didn't make it, so there will be no criminal trial. I was told he had insurance. The family  should be compensated for their medical bills and time off work. They have insurance as well, so they don't have to fight the battle themselves, though they were advised by one of my supervising physicians, once the father was coherent, to seek a competent attorney to insure that their financial needs were met. It turned out that the dad IS an attorney, so he's well aware of the idea of seeking legal representation.  

I was relieved to hand the child off to her grandmother, who flew in from Nebraska as quickly as she could get here. The child was initially reluctant to be handed off, as she hadn't seen grandma in over a year,  but grandma knew how to handle it, and the child was soon comfortable. We put together a gift basket with a stuffed animal, soft quilt, a few small toys, juice boxes, snack foods, books, and little games and activities. We offered the grandmother the option of admitting the child and putting a recliner for grandma in the child's room, or discharging the child and helping them to find a hotel room. The grandma thought they'd both be more comfortable in a hotel, and grandma seemed competent to manage the child's medications. Other relatives are to arrive later today. The parents will probably remain in the hospital into early- or mid-week of next week.

The grandmother assumed I was a nurse, and then was most apologetic when she learned that I was a medical school student. The lady had no idea how flattered I was that she had thought I was an actual medical professional of any kind and not some variation of a candy striper.

I'll be most relieved when this phase of my training is complete. It is incredibly difficult to stand by and watch something be done less well than I am capable of doing it.  This probably sounds a bit overly self-assured perhaps to the point of conceitedness.  I have weaknesses, both related to my future profession and otherwise. Likewise,  have strengths related to the profession (and otherwise), and I'm aware of what they are. I know when to step up, and when to back off and allow someone else to handle something if someone else more qualified is available.  Unfortunately, even when I'm more qualified than is the next person now, I'm forced to step back. I am becoming quite the baby- and child-calmer, the interviewer of teens extraordinaire, the one who is called on to attempt to have rational conversations with individuals under the influence of God knows what, and the long-suffering person to listen to senior citizens when there's little else we can do for them.  Perhaps all of these things are very necessary skills, and maybe I would never have perfected them to the degree that I now might without my current "situation."  That's the positive spin I'm trying to put on my present limitations.

It appears that my barfless night is not to be, tonight anyway. The good news is that the dentist who was handling my orthodontic adjustments here, who lives maybe ninety minutes away, heard of my plight, and he used my most recent molds to make two sets of protective teeth-guards for me to wear while throwing up in order to minimized the erosion of enamel from my teeth. Sometimes all one can do is to count one's blessings, however small they may seem. Right now a teeth guard seems like as much of an inconvenience as a blessing, but the time will come when I am grateful for the preserved enamel on my teeth.

So it's off to lose the contents of my stomach, and then back to work. Such is the life of a third-year medical student.


  1. Vomit, yuck. Here's my (unsolicited) advice... after you vomit, rinse. If you can stand it, mix a small amount of baking soda into the rinse water. Do not brush your teeth immediately after vomiting, as you'll be brushing the acids into the teeth, causing more enamel damage. I'm sure the dentist gave instructions with the trays, but in case he didn't, use a fluoride gel in the trays. Gel-Kam works, and is OTC. Small "ribbon" of gel in trays for 5 minutes, then remove, spit, and nothing to eat or drink for 30 minutes. Of course I haven't seen the trays, but I'll bet you can use them as bleaching trays when you are feeling better.

    1. Thanks for the advice. The dentist didn't send any instructions.

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