Monday, May 25, 2009

nursing = tiredness

So tired! I've spent the last three days on my nursing attachment, meaning I follow nurses around in the hospital and get baffled, bored, and bewildered in equal measure. The worst part is that it involves getting up before 7am. 7am is my break-even time for sleeping. If I know I have to get up before 7 I am always tempted just to stay up all night and run on adrenaline. This is actually a really bad idea so I just slept shortly and badly and ran on awful Imperial Roast coffee.

Saturday I followed a nurse around on the regular wards, which was briefly interesting but mostly a vindication of my decision to study to be a doctor rather than a nurse. Sunday I was in the emergency department dealing with lots of non-emergency situations and taking incredibly shoddy histories from patient patients.

Today was especially high on the bewildered scale because I spent the day in the operating theatre with a urologist (not, as it turns out, a neurologist) who was reaming out a lot of prostates. He was a really nice guy but I understood very little of what he said. Partly this was because surgical masks take away the visual cue to understanding speech, making everything sound like "ba ba - ba ba - ga ga". But mostly it was because I haven't even thought about the urinary system since October last year. So we had a lot of conversations like this:

This next bloke is interesting. His PSA is 1.5 which in a bloke of 78 you'd be pretty happy with. But if you'd relied on that and hadn't palpated the prostate you'd have missed the hard nodule on the right which is probably going to be Gleeson's type 7, 8 or 9. So always put your finger in it!

What's a prostrate?

The procedure itself involved taking a little circular wire, sticking it up the Johnson inside a frightening large caliber tube, heating up the wire until it's red hot, and scooping out little nuggets of prostaty goodness. The room filled up with the aroma of searing meat. It made me quite hungry and then quite nauseous shortly afterwards at the thought of it. Luckily lunch was vegetarian pasta.

The anaesthetist was great and let me poke various tubes down people's gullets and he even said "well done" to me, which must surely be the height of generosity because I can't really see how it could be done poorly. Still, I'll take the compliments as they come.

I felt like a complete fish out of water in the OT. I could tell it was going to be an awkward day because I managed to make a twit of myself in the first minute by trying to put hairnets on my feet and a shoe-cover on my head. Still, it could have been worse - I could have been trying to jam a wellington boot on my head. I tried to just stay out of everybody's way, and failed at that too. I have an innate knack for stepping in the wrong direction when trying to avoid someone, and we inevitably end up doing the two-step back and forth for a while.

It was a good experience though, because by the end of the day I was a little more familiar with the room and all the expensive machines and how it seems to work. My moment of glory came when I suggested removing the tourniquet from the arm of a patient whose failed cannula insertion site kept wanting to bleed. They all looked surprised when I did my Happy Dance but some of them joined in eventually. I also solved some of my long-standing body-image problems. Spend enough time in the company of naked elderly men and you'll feel much better about yourself quite soon. Finally, I learned to listen carefully to the theatre music. The fact that the first deprostatification began to the strains of "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" by Cyndi Lauper was highly amusing to me.

Tomorrow I'm back in the emergency department again for my last day. It's been interesting so far, but I'm really looking forward to sleeping in on Wednesday.

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