Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Watching surgery with my own eyes

Happy first day of summer! It's the first of many days when it's actually HOT and HUMID outside here in Massachusetts. It's really gross, actually. I walked for about 10 minutes to the train this morning and I was already feeling a little nasty...

Anyway this is going to be a really quick post about my day today because I experienced something that I never had before - I almost passed out while watching surgery in person!

Wednesdays are the days when I volunteer in the hospital. I went in to greet my supervisor, talked about some stuff going on with the hospital, got my lunch ticket, and met my friend to eat together. My friend is also a volunteer, at a different department though. We met randomly while we were sent to go get the mail for our supervisor, because you definitely need more than one person to get the mail -___-;;

Coincidentally we go to the same school and when we learned that we connected right away. So during lunch we talk about the good and the bad things about our school, our crazy party stories, drama that has happened to us, etc. Today we talked about the guys in our lives. And you know those silly and funny cliches- in movies especially- where students have relationships with the teacher and can end up in getting good grades? Well.... THEY ACTUALLY EXIST!!! My friend's story was super complicated and funny, and she ended by saying, "I bet you didn't know that about me!" LOL. I guess there is a reason why those cliches exist in the first place!

After we finished, I walked into the emergency room and pretty much stood around, cleaned some rooms which I'm technically not allowed to do because I need training (to clean wtf), and just talked with the nurses. A very typical day.

Then the nurse that I was helping out was needed to set up in the minor surgery room and told me that I could actually watch the surgery! I just wasn't allowed to touch anything because I don't have the proper knowledge or training, which was fine by me.

I just wanted to watch and learn! It would add to my experience as a future medical student. And many of the nurses and doctors were telling me that I'm lucky to be experiencing this now at an early age since most students observe their first surgery once they attend a medical school. To add to my luck, I was the first volunteer to be in the minor operation room and observe a surgery! And it wasn't just a simple, 30 minute surgery where they just remove a cyst in the eye, but one that involved a lot of stitching that was expected to last a couple of hours, but it's still a minor surgery since only local anesthesia was used. It's just a minor surgery so I can handle it.

The patient that came in had many deep cuts around the eye. The surgeon started to put in injections around the eye and cheeks to numb the area even more. Some bleeding happened as expected. I watched amazed with my eyes wide open; this is my first surgery that I get to observe in person! It's different than watching an operation on TV. The surgeon continued to clean up the blood that was dripping and put in more injections, this time in the eyelid and near the nose. But then the patient started to cry out in pain and shake since those areas were still sensitive to pain.

That's when it hit me... I started to feel so bad for the patient and started to imagine the pain that the patient was experiencing. I've never had to get stitches before either, so I just didn't know. And the injections and the blood that didn't bother me at all before started to freak me out.

I started to lose feeling in my legs then to the rest of my body. I got light headed, my vision got a little blurry. Then I started to hear that ringing noise that you hear after going to a concert, but it was 10 times louder than what I've ever experienced. I quietly said that I was leaving then a nurse saw me fumbling and helped me sit down and get me water. 

So yeah. I thought I could handle it, but instead I almost passed out LOL. It was seriously the strangest feeling that I've ever felt. I've never passed out before or get really light headed from anything so it was just.... weird. And I've seen many pictures and seen so many surgeries online or on TV and I'm always comfortable with them. But like I mentioned earlier, seeing it in person is different than seeing it on a screen. It's nothing like watching them perform surgery on a patient on TV. It's because you're actually in the room with an actual living, breathing person that you could'be talked to 10 minutes ago. And usually when you're watching a surgery on TV, they're under general anesthesia, so they're completely knocked out. But I could hear and see the patient in pain and that was what got to me the most. 

Now I'm a little worried about how I'm going to handle a bigger kind of surgery to be honest. I want to become a plastic surgeon and I'm going to have to see the face all cut apart then put together. But the other nurses and some of the emergency doctors all assured me that experiencing what I encountered happens to pretty much everyone with their first time observing surgery in person and that after the first time it gets a lot easier. Couple of the doctors there told me that they fainted completely when they were observing for the first time. And the nurses then were all talking about their first times, and it was really amusing actually. But you just build a tolerance to it and learned to sit down if you have to, not lock in your knees, and eat a little before to let the blood flow and not get nervous. And of course when I was watching, I was standing, knees locked, and I didn't eat much for at least 4 hours.
All in all, this was the mark of the first time I've observed surgery! And it's a good one for me since it was around the eye area and when I go into the plastic field, there's always someone getting their eyes done. It's relate-able. Yay, I'm getting part of the experience done and over with already.

And some other random stuff that happened throughout the day. A ton of people complimented my nails and were amazed how I did it on my own with just the brush the nail polish came with. It's a gradient pattern from gold to a blue-green color and the picture doesn't show how sparkly it really is.  And I think my hands are ugly :( I don't care people always love my nails.

And as I was walking back to North Station from the hospital, someone in the cars that I must've passed by did one of those wolf whistles at me. I don't know whether I should be flattered that someone found me nice to look at, or grossed out, or scared that someone could in fact rape me. I wonder what other people think of when they get whistled at...

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