Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Things I have learned in my 3 months at St. X's Hospital:

Interventional cardiologists have balls the size of mainland China. You kind of have to, if you're going to be essentially killing people and bringing them back to life all day long. That's what you do during bypass surgery; you cut into someone's heart, for God's sake. This ballsiness sometimes spills over into other areas of their lives.

From stories told by nurses: anyone who shows up with something weird stuck in his or her rectum (and is there anything not-weird that you can have stuck in there?) will inevitably say they 'fell on it.' Weirdest item removed, that I've heard of: a Maglite flashlight, still on. Was this an attempt at bargain colonoscopy, or what?

Nurses and doctors, for the most part, are in separate corners of the ring and operate under the assumption that the other party does nothing while they do everything.

If someone is a smoker and able to haul themselves out of bed, they will find a way to go outside and smoke. I've seen people in wheelchairs; with full spinal braces; with nine-month-pregnant bellies; dragging along their IVs; carrying oxygen tanks. Yesterday, hand to God, I saw a twenty-ish looking guy with a chest tube lighting up outside. There was reddish drainage in his tube, too. I wanted to tell him that if he was recovering from lung or heart surgery he should probably be laying off the cancer sticks, but even with a chest tube and one hand carrying the drainage pump, he looked like he could kick my ass. And I am nothing if not non-confrontational.

It is possible, though not necessarily desirable, to construct sentences made up 50% or more by acronyms and abbreviations. Ditto long, incantatory-sounding Latin words. Para ejemplo: I need an ABG, CBC and Chem-20 on the AMI we got in from the ED last night--he's in the CCU. Translation: Do these blood tests on this person, who just had a heart attack and was moved from the emergency department to the cardiac care unit last night. OR, She's para 1, gravida 2, and this time it looks like placenta previa. Translation: She's given birth once, she's been pregnant twice, and this time it looks like the placenta's going to be delivered before the baby (a dangerous condition that usually necessitates a Cesarean).

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