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November 24, 2019: The Moth and the Flame

My brief forays into the wonderful world of medicine have made me feel like a moth being attracted to a flame. And, I suspect that it is always going to be this way. More so veterinary medicine than human medicine, but too, I am attracted to certain aspects of human medicine. On my part, I enjoy learning the discourse conventions and having limited hands-on-expertise.

I did my second and final clinical E.R. rotation today. It’s now a few hours after the fact, so I (again) am not yet sure what to say about it. Once again, it came to light that I’m not a very hands-on person, and for this I feel really bad. I do wish I could be shown how to do something and then be able to do it, but this is not how my mind operates.

Alys & Bootleg on top of Limekiln Hill
Alys & Bootleg on top of Limekiln Hill

Instead, my more writerly mind goes into record mode – I do best at observing and later fashioning the information into a narrative.

How to explain this to hospital staff? I didn’t because I was only doing two twelve hour shifts and undoubtedly will never cross paths with any of them again.

The day started with the day shift, Head E.R. Nurse, Darby – acting in a very teacherly fashion and going over the basics of assessment – taking vitals and the acronyms of the secondary search. I understood exactly what she was getting at, and I likened it in my head to playing tennis. I, who was the amateur was able to keep up with the professional. I knew what she was talking about and answered most of her questions correctly.

Darby then showed me how to use some of the hospital monitoring devices, and after, she had me take notes in the triage, or the intake area. Darby noticed that I spent too much time with one patient, and for this reason then told me to get the histories and move on. “I want you to observe a LOT of patients,” she said.

I was to work with a nurse who before had shown no interest in interacting with me. The same was true on this particular day. I did observe and take notes on at least 20 intakes, but like last week, I soon found myself on my own, both because I am not hands-on (avoid her!) and because I just wasn’t grasping what was to be done quickly enough. So, interestingly, like last week, I ended up on my own, spending a lot of time with just a handful of patients. The exception was the 94 year old woman who was on death’s doorstep. The family appeared and I made a quick exit.

And so, I made friends with an older couple – husband had heart problems. They might in the spring come out and check out our gardening project. And I made friends with a woman whose four-year old child was having difficulty breathing. She teaches riding lessons locally – we might end up working at Saddle Up together. And I made friends with a woman who was diagnosed with influenza. I might meet up with her and her granddaughter and grandchild at the recycling center – he is into reading and dinosaur books.

There has to be a place in this world for people like me. I just don’t think that the medical world is it.

Next: 326. 11/25/19: Self Exploration

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