Wednesday, 11 December 2013

One Day Matters

At my school, they run a program called 'One Day Matters', where first year med students get to shadow a surgeon for a day and watch their surgeries. I got to participate in the program back in November, but am just getting around to posting about it now (oops). I was lucky enough to get paired with an orthopedic surgeon for the day, which is super cool because bones are my thing! I was really excited to see some surgeries, but was also terrified that I'd pass out at the sight of the scalpel (and it wouldn't be my first time passing out, haha).

About a week before my placement, I went to the hospital and checked the schedule, which said that I was going to be seeing two hip replacements, a knee replacement, and a first MTP debridement (the first MTP is the joint between your big toe and your foot). I made the mistake of watching some videos online in the days leading up to the surgeries, and man, let me tell you - a lot of the videos you can watch online are actually way worse than what it looks like when you're in there! So I psyched myself out nicely, and was pretty stressed the day before surgery. 

The morning of my day in the OR, I got up and forced myself to eat a decent breakfast (that's pretty much the #1 thing they tell you - do NOT go into the OR on an empty stomach!), and headed out. I got there super early (I'm always paranoid about being late), and got changed into scrubs and was told to wait for the doctor I was working with in the surgeons lounge! I felt so out of place, the lowly little first year med student sitting amongst a bunch of surgeons (most of whom were men, but who's counting?). The surgeon I was working with got there fairly quickly though, and she (yes, I was lucky enough to be paired with a kickass female surgeon!) was amazing. She was super nice and welcoming, and after she changed we went to see our first patient of the day, who was getting a hip replacement. We went to the OR while it was being set up, and chatted a bit. At first, she wasn't sure whether she was going to have me scrub in (which is when you're completely sterile and can be at the operating table), or just observe (when all you have to do is wash up and wear a mask, and you just stay back so there's no risk of you contaminating anything). She decided to have me scrub in though, which was super cool. I actually stood right next to her the entire time and got to participate! I didn't get to do anything that could be screwed up (as it should be!), but she let me do things like hold retractors, cut sutures, wash out a joint, and even hammer a couple things! Such a cool day. 

This is a screencap from Grey's Anatomy and not a photo of the surgery I was in, but it's good to show what ortho surgery looks like (though the OR I was in was about 1000 times brighter, they make everything look dark and mysterious on TV. Also, there were way less screens everywhere - if you're looking right into the joint, you don't need to project what you're doing on a screen, haha). With orthopedic surgery, it's incredibly important to control the risk of infection as much as humanly possible, because if an infection gets into bone it's bad. Really bad. Bone infections aren't something you want to mess with. So, in addition to gowns and gloves, you also wear these crazy hoods! The best part of the hoods though is that underneath them you wear a helmet-like contraption that plugs into a battery pack and has a fan in it! So that actually kept me pretty cool the whole time (because the gowns and gloves get pretty warm!). It was awesome. 

A close up of Callie in the hood. 

I couldn't believe how quick and efficient the surgeries were, either! The surgeon was amazing, and definitely didn't rush at all, and still each surgery I was in lasted less than an hour. It's awesome to be part of something that's going to improve someone's quality of life so drastically. I was also super proud of myself when I made it through the whole day without passing out! I did get a little woozy at the very end of the first surgery, but was totally fine during the rest of the day. Pro tip: between each surgery, I was lucky enough to have a small snack and a juice box to keep my blood sugar up, and run to the washroom. Eating and drinking regularly is super important. 

So, my first day in surgery was pretty awesome. I don't know if I want to actually be a surgeon, partially because the lifestyle can be ridiculous and I want to be able to balance work and family. I think I could maybe see myself in a specialty where I'd be in the OR maybe 2 or 3 days a week and in clinics the rest of the time, but I'm not sure how feasible that would be. Good thing I have time to figure it out! 

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