Sunday, December 18, 2011

Weekly Update: Less than a Week Until Christmas!!

  • Getting the Squeeze out of Life
    • In follow up to my previous post, and in response to the emails of some concerned family and friends, there is no doubt in my mind that I've picked the right profession. There is also no greater reward than taking into hospital someone fiercely injured and sending them home a week or two later largely in-tact again. So despite all the anguish and horror, trauma has been my favourite rotation so far. The only thing that really gets to me is when people survive catastrophic injuries with significant morbidity. At this point, it's hard to see beyond their loss of function and emotional scars. It's hard not to think - as unpolitically correct as it may seem - they would have been better off dead. I think, though, that this is largely because we don't often get to see the long-term recovery of these patients. When we sign off as a surgical service, the patients are still in the first phases of their recovery and therefore still appear as mangled, dysfunctional bodies that entrap the bright and aware minds and souls of their hosts. However, I did manage to find the perfect TED talk that addresses this particular conundrum. I'll include it with some details down below.
    • For me, dealing with some of the rather unsavory personality types that come in via the trauma service was not as difficult as I thought it might be. I met a whole slew of people who did awful, horrible things to others: from serial rapists, to murderers, to gang bangers, to cop killers. You name it, I laid hands on them, sutured them, talked to them every day about their physical pain, and stayed up late at night trying to solve their problems and get them well again. And for me, it wasn't a crisis of conscience. In dealing with these people, I was reminded of a quote from Joan Halifax, "Compassion has enemies: pity, moral outrage, and fear". Anytime it became difficult to treat one of these patients, my reaction was easily identified as one of those 3 responses, and then, once identified, set aside so that the work could be done.
    • It's one thing to limit your practice to "the easy patients" - I mean, if you were given the choice, who would you rather round on every day: a sweet-mannered soccer mom who was in a car accident and broke her leg, does everything you recommend for healing, and sends you and the staff a gift basket when discharged - or-  the impoverished, homeless woman with lice and paranoid schizophrenia who happens to have appendicitis and throws her food tray at your head when you try to assess her belly? The fact is, both of them need help. I, for one, would never want to limit my practice to exclude the latter case simply because it makes my day easier. Medicine, for me, is about treating the breadth of humanity - and trauma has a way of being rather non-selective in its demographics. You are just as likely to get the homeless lady who was hit by a car as you the soccer mom who was driving it.

  • Recipe I've Been Drooling Over
    • So, on average I manage to score about 4-5 hrs of sleep a night... which means eating breakfast before leaving the house is a tough feat. Fortunately, a leftover can of pumpkin puree in my fridge inspired me to look up this recipe: cheddar, black pepper, and pumpkin muffins are the perfect solution to a fast morning routine plus they have a 5/5 'stick to your ribs' quality that is only beat by steel-cut oats. I highly recommend you try them!

  • Favourite Thing on Etsy this Week
    • Christmas is coming! Christmas is coming! And, while I'll be working, it doesn't mean that I've been above cruising the internerd for some great gift ideas. Here are my favourites from Etsy this year:
        • If any man were to wear  a bowtie of this caliber, he would be guaranteed to make me swoon. What a delight!

        • If you can blink your way past the price tag, this piece of art is both profound and inspiring. Not only does it make use of my favourite medium, linocut, but also perfectly captures the best of my favourite season. With that in mind, I think the artist has priced their piece well: good work deserves good value.

        • Last but not least, I can't help but smile when I look at this picture. It comes with a sequel that describes "animals of low moral standing"... but I feel that it is important to point out at the trifecta of animal awesomeness are all included in the high moral standing group: penguin, frog, and rabbit. :)

  • What I'm Reading Right Now
    • Textbooks upon textbooks upon textbooks....  'nuff said. :(

  • TED Talk I Watched This Week
    • What better than a first hand account of what it's like to survive one of the traumas that so disturb me. This woman was hit by a car, remained in a coma for 18 months, and was discharged to a senior's home because there was no long term care or rehab facility appropriate for her needs. When she says, "they had given up on me, called me a gomer... and the hospital really didn't know what to do with someone in my state", she couldn't be more correct. We deal very poorly with people who do not quickly return to their baseline, require very long term rehab, and have morbidities that make us uncomfortable about our job performance.

  • Song of the Week
    • special thanks to scarlett for another terrific referral! I promise to post something more festive next week. :)

  • Thing I'm Most Grateful for This Week
    • Family and friends. And sleep.... dear lord, do I love sleep. It makes everything so much better.

  • Thing I'm Most Looking Forward to This Week
    • Christmas!!!! Since I can't be there in person, Penguin is going to skype me in for his family's Chrismas morning so I can still share in the family fun. xo

  • Bunny Photo of the Week
    • It is with a heavy heart that Hoyle, Penguin, and I wish Jazz bunny a fond farewell. A few weeks ago she became acutely ill and passed away quite suddenly at the vet's. It was a very difficult time for all of us and we miss her very much.
    • Hoyle felt things most acutely for she was his 24/7 friend and, well they are rabbits, lover. Every day, he'd search the house looking for her and when he couldn't find her, he'd start the search all over again. It was heartbreaking to watch. He lost his appetite, lost interest in doing anything but looking for his friend, and was clearly depressed.
    • It took about a week and a half before I realized that my human love couldn't heal his broken bunny heart, so off we set to find him a new bunny. No rabbits were available at the local shelter, so we drove for an hour out of town to meet a breeder of rex rabbits. Hoyle met several bunnies that day and chose, to my surprise, a wee boy bunny whom we have now named Murphy (surprised? I thought not. haha).
    • Murphy is settling in nicely and while they aren't cohabitating yet, they are doing very well together.
    • Hoyle and I still miss Jazz very much but Hoyle is doing much better since Murphy has come home. And Murphy seems to understand that Hoyle is in need of some tender bunny loving and goes out of his way to groom and snuggle Hoyle as much as he can.
With great love for her indomitable spirit and
sweet peaceful soul- we miss you terribly,  Jazz: 2008-2011.

Welcome to the Family, Murphy!

Monday, December 12, 2011

It's not by looking into the light that we become luminous but by plunging into the darkness. - Carl G. Jung

Forgive me if I haven't posted in quite some time... I've been working on the trauma service and the endless parade of human suffering, despair, and hopelessness have been keeping me up at night, even when I'm not on call.

Some nights, if feels like an endless stream of stabbing in the _____ (chest, abdomen, limb, back, etc), ditto for gunshot wounds (self-inflicted, gang-related, shot by police/lover/family member, you name it). All in combination with a variety of alcohol / substance abuse, my favourites so far being: "spray and 7" (hairspray mixed with 7-up) as well as "lemon paint" (paint thinner plus lemonade). Highest recorded alcohol in a conscious, talking, oriented person so far: 84.0 (legal limit: 0.08; toxic level 38.0).

There are so many more stories. Slowly, the trauma service eats away at your sense of humanity. I stare at the ceiling at night wondering why I don't feel more. It should be devastating. These cases should reduce me to tears. But there are just so many and the stories are often just so extreme. It starts to numb you... until you drive home and someone tries to cut you off and you find yourself parked on the sidewalk, shaking in the drivers seat, imaging yourself on the trauma room stretcher staring up at the faces of your team members as they mumble to themselves, "there are injuries worse than death."
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...