Monday, August 14, 2006

What's the antonym for consent?

The 17-year-old looked at the doctor with a face that showed everything up to but not including sheer horror.

"Prostate exam... so does that mean you're gonna have to stick a finger up my bum?"

His girlfriend, sitting on the chair by his bed in the exam room, burst into laughter.

Let me put it this way: He wasn't a big fan of the doctor's answer.

In fact, he refused. In a sense, we gave him an option: if it is a urinary infection, the antibiotics we give him will knock it out in a week. If he still is having, ahem, trouble, in a week, he'll need the finger.

Today was my first shift in the ER of the hospital where I used to volunteer. It was great to go back. I signed up for a rotation, hoping for OR, but they're a bit busy and the doc is swamped this summer, so I took ER instead just as happily. In fact, I spent all day thinking about a nagging question - if I want to do ER over OR. I spent a ton of time in the OR in Nigeria, and that gave OR a lot of points in my mental checklist. But now, I'm starting to think some more about the option. I've got tons of time, though.

Being a rural location, they're trying to lure docs. They gave me - courtesy of the physician search committee - a goodie bag with a bunch of stuff including a tshirt, notepad, mug, tea, etc. etc. I also get all my meals free, and a parking pass.

I promised you stories. I don't have much time, but I'll tell you a few.

Watched the ER doc suture up a thumb laceration of a well-known brain surgeon from a world-famous hospital in the city - the doc doing the procedure was only a little nervous. ("I've been using power tools all summer doing renovations on my new cottage, and how do I cut my thumb? using a knife to separate frozen hamburgers).

Later I did my first procedure: reduced a dislocated shoulder. The guy was very grateful, and announced that (and everything else that crossed his mind, including his opinion of the cute nurse) to the ER. Might've been the alcohol. Later I followed a patient to the OR to get a battery pulled from his stomach. We also had to tell an 88-year-old woman that she'll be dead in a few weeks. Other than that, a few casts, a few sutures, and one incredibly average night in the ER. I had a blast.

It's 12:30 am now, and I need to get some sleep. My next shift start at 7:30 am. My first short night of many, thanks to the whole me choosing a life of medicine thing. We'll see if I'm excited to get up when my alarm rings. If I am, then that's another point for ER.

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