Saturday, January 29, 2011

Put Your Finger On It and Think

Yesterday, my histology prof (a.k.a Long Bones) was trying (in vain*) to have us identify an arteriole on a liver slide. Her way of describing it was a "fire hose".  Some of the students pointed at bile canaliculi or central veins, until she took the laser away and pointed to a tiny arteriole. Ok, maybe something that looked like a microscopic, tissue colored fire hose.

Many of us chuckled, so she told us not to underestimate the power of an arteriole, or an arterial bleed. I can definitely say that I have respect for the little fire hoses of blood when they are cut, but many of my classmates have never seen such a thing, except maybe on an episode of Scrubs. 

At this point, Long Bones uncharacteristically decided to tell us a story about her days as a junior doctor (I always find it entertaining to imagine these uber-talented-experienced-confident profs as bumbling-inexperienced-trembling interns). Her surgical prof in medical school used to always tell them: when you cut an artery and it starts to bleed, just put your finger on it and think. They used to laugh at the constant repetition of his seemingly trite advice.

Just put your finger on it and think.

One day, young Long Bones was in the ED and received a patient who had been bitten by a sheep. A nice deep bite to the upper thigh, complete with a large hematoma. She got to work scrubbing away, and figured she'd suture it. She saw this giant blob (yes, a clot) which she pulled off. The artery sprung to life and sprayed her face, her hair, and the wall behind her. Instantly she knew what to do, despite never having encountered an arterial bleed. She didn't panic.

She put her finger on it and thought. Then yelled at the nurses to call the surgeon.

I love those stories, the ones that tell you--hey, accept the fact that you will make ridiculous mistakes, and you will learn from them, and you will gain a new appreciation for those pearls which fell in your lap during your education.

Yes, it reminded me that I actually love being in medical school.

*Pun intended, of course. 


Nurse J said...

kinda like the stories bongi tells. love those stories.

Albinoblackbear said...

Funny you say that. After I wrote the post I read it and thought, "I seemed to have channeled my inner Bongi..."

Yes. Love his stuff. Guess I shouldn't have capitalized. =)

James said...

Great post!

Cara said...

Holy shite! Sheep can bite?

Maha said...

I just had a horrible PTSD-esque flashback to having hematuria splashed all over my scrub top when I read about the blood squirting :S