February 17, 2008

So easy a monkey could do it.

As a first year medical student, they don't trust you to do a whole lot around the clinic or on the wards (and frankly, I don't blame them). So we make do by finding excitement in the little things. "Dude, you got to TAKE OUR SUTURES today? Awesome!" "I can't believe they let you disempact the patient's bowel!" "Whoa, they actually let you CUT the tendon?! NO WAY!" This week, I got thrown a bone of my own.

I got to push a button.

Now, I know what you're saying. But this wasn't just any button. This button was hooked up to a machine. A defibrillator more specifically. And pushing that button delivered 250 joules of energy through a man's chest, lifting him several feet off the bed and returning his heart from abnormal atrial flutter to boring sinus rhythm. Ah, cardioversion.

It went down like this. It was my last week in cardiology clinic and we had a whole two patients to fill the next four hours of time. So my preceptor, bless his soul, decided to send me up on the hill to follow a patient from earlier who was being admitted to observe his cardioversion. Y'know, last week in cardiology, might as well see the cool stuff. So I find the appropriate room, give the fellow the rundown, and we go in and meet the patient. Really nice guy, with a great attitude and sense of humor. And as I introduce myself, I say "Hi, my name is MedZag, I'm a medical student who is going to be observing your cardioversion. Don't worry, they won't let me push any buttons or anything. Ha. Ha. Ha." Wow, either I'm a horrible psychic or have an incredible sense for irony. We get the pads all hooked up, get him sedated, and page the attending. The attending arrives (*dramatic music*), checks all the numbers, and gets ready to give the go ahead. Just as the moment arrives, he turns to me, standing in the corner (oh my god! he noticed me!), and says the words that made my week:

"You want to do it?"

Now the appropriate response would have been something along the lines of "Yes, sir, I would appreciate the opportunity to further expand my medical experience." Instead, all I was able to mutter was a highly confident and assured... "Sure." So the attending shows me how to set the appropriate knobs and dohickeys on the defib (yes, $40,000 a year towards my education and I still use the word 'dohickey'), shows me the charge button and the big red discharge button, and makes very damn well that I "hold down the button" when I press it. Then the time comes. The countdown... 3... 2... 1... and BAM! I press that button better than any first year medical student has ever pressed a button, held it down TWICE as long as needed to prove that I'm a good listener, and watched as the patient's back arches and his body rises two feet off the bed. The EKG goes crazy then slowly settles down and... normal sinus rhythm. Damn, he's good.

The attending says "good job," I reply with an equally confident "thank you," while my brain is screaming "OH MY GOD! That was freaking AWESOME! OH MY GOD! WOW! JUST WOW! OH MY GOD!"

It's the little victories that get me through the day. Soon enough, I'll yawn at such experiences as I move on to bigger and grander things in my medical career. But I'm really just trying to enjoy the journey along the way (said after a long weekend slaving over autonomic physiology and pharmacology which has subsequently leeched all the joy out of this week). And damn, it's never been so much fun to push a button before.

BTW... 1000 visitors. CHEYYYAAAAA!!!! Visitors from Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, and the Netherlands. New Hampshire, Minnesota, Tennessee, and Nevada. Very cool stuff.


Anonymous said...

Hey I really enjoyed reading your blog. I will be attending medical school in the fall and I am trying to figure out what it will be like. Keep up the good work!!

Loupis said...

Dude, I wanna push some buttons and shock people back into normalcy!

Anonymous said...

An interesting and amusing read, i shall be back for sure.


Ellie said...

I love reading your thoughts on medical school - please keep it up!

David said...

Bullshit, son. You don't throw a shout out to the 480? I'll kill you.