Let’s talk about how my week has gone so far.
The last five days feel like a blur and yet, hours could often stretch for what feels like days. I am in my Emergency-Anesthesia Rotation right now and believe me, it is absolutely exhausting. I never knew how tired I could feel until this week.
It’s partly because I have not been standing for hours on end in the last month, so my body isn’t used to it yet. We have two shifts in the ER, morning or evening. Mornings are from 8AM to 5PM, and evening shifts are from 2PM to 10PM. I have done three morning shifts and one evening so far. We have Monday lectures, Wednesday tutorials and the whole Thursdays are dedicated to Patient Safety Module, which is from 8AM to 6.30+PM.
Anesthesia starts at 7.30AM (sharp) and last till the surgeries of the day are over, typically 3-5PM. Anesthesia is worse in a way, because you aren’t allowed to leave the Operating Theatre at all. And you’re assigned to one med student to one anesthetist. And it’s kinda dull in between putting the patient on general anesthesia and waking them up, because you don’t really have to do anything unless something horrible happens.
I’ll be doing that in a week’s time and I’m not sure if I should be excited or pessimistic. It’s a learning process regardless, so I best make use of it.
What’s the most interesting thing I’ve seen in the ED? The patients who came in intoxicated can be both amusing and alarming. There was an aggressive patient who was restrained to his bed, and there was this other guy who kept telling the doctors to stop suturing his wound. It’s terrible that I found the latter hilarious, but in the situation, it was kinda funny because he kept telling the doctor that ‘nope, nope, it’s fine, doctor, just leave it. i’m okay’, all the time bleeding profusely.
My group and I would be a little blood thirsty and wait for a trauma patient to show up because we’re weirdly morbid that way. It’s not as though the bleeding ones are worse than patients who have a heart attack, but it’s somehow more thrilling.
During my Wednesday evening shift, a group mate of mine kept talking about chocolate cake and milkshakes (we skipped our dinner break so we didn’t have to stay till 10, because we have to wake up earlier the next day, so we were standing around for almost 7 hours), but when this old man was pushed into the Red Zone (aka the ‘bad zone’) without a pulse, it basically wiped all thoughts of cake out of our minds. It was quite an ‘adrenaline rush’ moment watching the doctors perform CPR for a good 15 minutes. They managed to get a pulse back, but it’s hard to say if he would make a total or even partial recovery. We assisted where we could, but I regret not jumping in and helping out in the CPR when they swapped for compressions. That will not happen again.
We did our first Patient Safety Module yesterday, which is lectures in the morning, then hands-on in the evening. The afternoons are the more ‘interesting’ parts because they divide you into groups, give you a situation and you’re suppose to handle it like it’s ‘real life’. A highly specialised mannequin (meaning it can blink, has pupil responses, can ‘talk’) is the patient, and groups of 4 (or in my case, 3) have to deal with whatever it throws at you.
That was both terrifying and fun. The tutors would be behind a one way mirror (they can see us, but we can’t see them), and giving us information as needed or responding as the patient. I was made ‘team leader’ yesterday in my group of 3, which meant I had to step back and coordinate my two team members. “You secure the airway, check for pupil responses. You, place the leads and set up the drip. Run normal saline for maintenance.” That sort of thing.
It was funny because none of us really knew what we were doing, but we were trying our best. And cracking up along the way, because it’s ridiculous but scary at the same time. At some point, you are suppose to call for help, and since we were one man down compared to other groups, I had to make the calls, when other groups still had their ‘team leader’ to monitor the situation. I’m pretty sure all our groups killed our patients yesterday. Or at least brought some harm.
It’s day 1 of putting us in that situation, and it wasn’t real, so you can’t exactly blame us for the freak out, okay? haha
ED is fun if you get your hands dirty, and I do admit that I didn’t do as much as I could have. I’m home for the next five days because it’s Lunar New Year/Chinese New Year here in Malaysia. I am sure that it’s going to be a rare occasion that I get to travel home this year because I ‘work’ from Sundays to Thursdays due to the Johor system, and that clashes with the weekends back home, so it’s harder to coordinate with my family. I still have to replace my Sunday shift (the 7th of Feb) on the upcoming Friday (12th of Feb). Oh well!
Anyway, to anyone reading this who celebrates Chinese New Year, Gong Xi Fa Cai! And to rest of you, have a great weekend xx