Monday, July 30, 2012

Surgery with Friends

*All names in this story have been changed, I do not in fact know anyone with the name of Joe Shmoe.

So especially towards the end of the rotation, myself and the other med students on my team sometimes opted to scrub in on the shorter rather than the longer cases when there was a choice (thyroidectomy? sign me up!) - not because we were slackers (ok, a little because we were slackers), but because we were starting to get stressed about our surgery shelf exam and wanted that extra time to be in the library studying.

literally could be anyone
But on the last day of our rotation, I decided to scrub into the more complicated GI case knowing it was maybe the last chance I would get to watch a surgery (ever???).  The case ended up being even more complicated than expected, so the attending surgeon wanted another attending with him rather than only the resident (and me, but med students don't count in the being helpful department during surgery).  So who walks into the OR but one of my parents' closest friends, and someone I've known literally since I was born. 

He obviously did not notice me, as he was there to help with the case, and went immediately to the open body in front of him.  Plus I'm in a gown, face mask, and shower cap - no one exactly looks like themselves in the OR.

it was him the whole time!
I was so excited to see him - I wasn't expecting to be in on any cases with him since he usually doesn't operate at the hospital where my rotation was.  But how to let him know it was me since he clearly didn't see me?  Talk about inner turmoil!!  I wasn't going to interrupt the two surgeons discussing the case to be like "Hi, Joe, it's me, Elena!" but at the same time, I couldn't stand there silent for the whole hours-long surgery and at the end rip off my mask and shower cap and say, "Ha-ha, I've been here the whole time!"

So they're operating away, and I'm retracting away, and the chief resident is standing to the side looking sullen because his surgery was stolen, and every time there was a silence I opened my mouth to announce myself, but then chickened out and didn't say anything.  Was it silent because they were concentrating, and if I spoke the patient would die, or was it actually a good time to interject?  I started and stopped myself at least a good five times.  The more time that went by, the more awkward I felt, because the longer it went on, the weirder it was for me to not say anything.

The biggest problem, besides timing, was how to phrase the sentence.  Everyone in the room obviously called him Dr. Shmoe, but I have never once in my life called him anything but Joe.  So would it be weirder to call him Joe and have everyone in the room be like uh, who does this med student think she is?  Or weirder to be overly formal?  I KNOW, serious problems right?

Finally both the attending surgeons stepped back as a third surgeon went in to do her thing (there were some non-GI components to the surgery, so another specialist was there to deal with those).  So finally I had my opportunity, and I said, "Hi Joe, I didn't want to interrupt before but it's Elena."  And then I could finally stop feeling awkward, and the inside of my head could stop exploding, and the rest of the surgery was great.  The best part was that the first thing he said to me was, "How's your car doing?"  because not that I think my chief resident would ever think I lied about that, but it's always good to have proof that I didn't.

some of the things I got to see

The real best part was getting to see him operate.  Surgery continues to awe and amaze me, and it was very cool to see someone I know from such a different, non-surgical setting to actually perform surgery.  And the case lent itself to good teaching - he was able to point out a lot of structures to me which I hadn't really gotten a good look at in any other surgeries I had seen.  Even after he left the room, the other GI surgeon continued to teach much more than he had at the beginning.  It also ended up just being a really interesting case, and even though it lasted 5+ hours, I'm glad I got to watch it.  A really awesome last day of surgery.

Monday, July 23, 2012


At the end of each rotation, the chief resident gives us a number grade and also makes a few short comments about us.  We then get to go over what's said about us with the clerkship director.  One of my comments was that I present information concisely, and am able to get important patient information across efficiently.  As part of our evaluation, we also had to hand in two patient write-ups to the clerkship director, who said my HPI was "concise and well-written."

When I was going over my evaluation with the clerkship director, I actually LOLed (that's right, I laughed out loud) and told him I've never ever in my life been called concise.  Verbose, repetitive, "uses too much flowery language," loquacious, circumlocutory, magniloquent, uses too many details, annoyingly repetitive, tells really long stories, seriously repetitive, "please just get to the damn point" those are phrases I'm used to hearing about myself.  Concise is a new one.  Maybe I'm maturing?

Confession.  To my knowledge, no one has ever actually called me circumlocutory.  Or magniloquent for that matter.  But I prefer those to "annoyingly talkative."  But seriously, try having a conversation with me after a couple beers and tell me I'm not loquacious. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

One Down

I made it alive through my first clerkship!  Sometimes I find it hard to put my feelings into words (hah, yeah right), so I'd rather let Destiny's Child express my feelings for me - they just get me, you know?  And nothing says "I'm a survivor" like Beyonce crawling sexily on the beach.

Side note - prepare yourself, gird your loins, whatever you have to do, for the next couple weeks when I'll finally (maybe?) be finishing and posting all the half-written posts I have from throughout the surgery rotation.

Under side note - gird your loins comes from the ancient Meryl Streep tradition, where men would have to gather up all the extra material on their long Prada robes and tie it out of the way so that they could ride horses into battle without the robes getting in the way.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sucks for Them?

This morning, I walked to my car (for which I pay a hefty sum to park in a garage next to my apartment building), and was a little annoyed when I got there to see shattered glass by the driver's side door, because, well, that's annoying.  Obviously, at 4:30 in the morning (and pre-coffee, I usually drink it on the way to the hospital), I was not on my A game, and it took me a second to realize that the reason there was shattered glass on the floor was because I had no driver's seat window anymore... because it was all on the floor and on the driver's seat in millions of teeny tiny little pieces.

think of all the sea glass this could make!
Why would anyone target my car, on the third floor, full of dents from some unhappy run-ins with garbage dumpsters, scratches from getting keyed in St. Louis (apparently I have an enemy somewhere out there), and two screws sticking up from the trunk where the spoiler used to be (don't even ask)?  Well, I did have a package in my backseat - it's been sitting there for about four weeks now, and it's a bra I ordered from Nordstrom, but I've just been too lazy to bring it upstairs.  The garage owners said two other cars were also broken into last night, and the guy (or girl, I'm not sexist here) clearly knew what he was doing because he avoided all the cameras.  He probably thought my package was something like a laptop or iPad I had ordered.

So my first thought (after my initial crying session obviously, because I'm a mature adult) was:

sucks for them, they thought they were gonna find a sweet laptop, but all they found was a measly bra (which they left for me, thanks).  But then I remembered that it still definitely sucks more for me.

Also my car is chock-full of empty coffee cups and granola bars - I can't believe the thieves didn't want any of those!!

Friday, July 6, 2012

So Sleepy

I love love love surgery but I hate hate hate the hours.  Advice?

Seriously, when have I ever not had time to update the blog?  Never is the answer.  Now I barely have the energy to shower and eat before I crawl into bed at the end of the day.  But it's all so coooooooool.  I want to cut things open and sew them back up all the time!  But also kind of maybe I want something that resembles a life?