Signing out of the (general) surgery suite with a happy heart, a full stomach, and maybe more brain cells. ✌️
Throwback to 2020
Sometime early in 2020, a bit before the lockdown officially began: we were clueless clerks waking up at ungodly hours to report to the surgery departments of East Avenue Medical Center, then Ospital ng Makati, then The Medical City.
At that time, I had no love for surgery. In fact, I actively dreaded scrubbing in for procedures. The feeling was born from my healthy fear of scrub and circulating nurses, the rumors I’d hear about scary residents and attendings, the way everyone kept moving too fast for me to follow. I like to go my own pace.
In fact, I think I dreaded surgery so much that my body knocked me out for five whole days with a bonus medical certificate for sinus infection.
But we never cross the same river twice. Maybe it’s the air, the passing of time, or even myself that evolved, but I actually looked forward to time in the OR suite this 2021. Only the ephemeral is of lasting value, and all that. I finally unlocked the secrets of getting along with the scrub and circulating nurses (in one memorable moment, the secret is shared love for KPop). And none of the residents or attendings inspired the fear of god.
The pace was just right.
I don’t know if it’s the thought of boards happening in a couple months’ time that’s messing with my perception of time, but moments either come by too quickly or not at all. I blink and I’m in the OR suite, scrubbing in for a 8-hour case (I will never forget that first day). I blink again and I’m scrubbing out.
Blink, and it’s two shifts in the ER. Then the floors. Then it’s done.
How is it almost July?
Making the rounds
Rotating in the surgery suite meant some lull time in between surgical procedures and errands. I got to meet many new clerks (aka fourth year medical students) also rotating in surgery.
I’d talk about the three clerks that apparently fainted during our first week of rotation, but I’d rather not immortalize a sensitive issue.
Intellectually I know I was also as close-to-clueless when I was a clerk, but there was something precious about seeing others don a sterile gown or try closed gloving for the first time. (I did my best to help, I promise). Even writing SOAP notes was an adventure. I’m really rooting for you, batch 2022. I’m sure you’ll be great interns next year! Claiming it!
I don’t know how floor SRODs (surgery residents-on-duty) keep their head on. At least forty patients spanning four floors? And somehow the energy to educate watchers and families, update consultants, coordinate with nurses, report to seniors, and feed errant interns and clerks?
My muscles are flagging just thinking about it. My brain also.
But there was something even more impressive than their ability to power through endless hours of work and equally endless tons of pressure –it was the ability to reflect only the best, and to let the worst of things go.
Here in TMC, or on #medtwitter, there’s a movement to be kinder and to be better than the giants who’ve come before. Younger consultants treat their trainees with respect and compassion, senior residents instruct their younger colleagues with more understanding, our residents keep telling us to take breaks for meals and rest.
All the good things, etc. Hoping to pay it forward someday soon. ❤️
While “retracting” (essentially just holding the trocar in place), Doc said not to be too tense, but also not to be so lax as to lose the position and the critical view. Goldilocks in surgery. There’s a metaphor here somewhere.
*I need to remember to write this down on our rotation feedback form. Practicals of wound care an absolute must for those in clinical rotations. We can’t really survive on that one hall lecture alone, though it was a good foundation for the theoreticals.
I can’t believe I spent those six weeks in surgery clerkship pretending like I knew what “wet-to-dry” actually meant. (The technique in COD in those days was just to copy how the last duty team members did the dressing, and hope for the best.)
I had a couple of misgivings over surgery since the schedule seemed more intense. Not as intense as the 36-hour duties of our EAMC and QMMC days (I hated how my skin would break out after 24-hour duties.. we wore masks to hide our greasy faces long before it was cool), but definitely not as boards review-friendly as our pediatrics rotation.
But it turned out fine. I still have a mountain of backlogs for boards review, but my sanity and my soul’s intact.
The end of surgery rotation means there are only a couple of weeks left until the end of internship, and then only a handful of weeks until the board exams. I’ve been gripped with an increasing urge to document experiences, try new things, and reconnect with more people. We’re about to leave the nest.
So I’m trying to say yes to as many things as possible, which is horrible for my boards review but great for my mental health. It’s just pesky exams and inconveniently timed duties that get in my way. And also the ongoing pandemic.
P.S. Follow me on Instagram! Or recommend me more Instagram shops… online shopping is really how I cope.
Until next time! ❤️
(Which is either three weeks from now, when I write about my minors/elective rotation, or in a couple of days, when I finally post some book reviews I’ve left on the burner.)