Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Respiratory Revelations

After spending the morning studying (actually studying, with textbooks and notepaper and such), I drive to the next town for my scheduled afternoon session with the Respiratory Physician. I find the medical clinic where I'm told he consults, and after wandering around outside for 5 minutes I find a local surgeon who shows me how to find the front door.

It's a maze of a place, but I stumble across a desk complete with a friendly lady with a Bluetooth headset. She is very knowledgeable, and kindly informs me that the Respiratory Physician does not consult there anymore, and gives me directions to his new rooms.

I find the right street and drive slowly down, staring creepily out of my window as I search for a sign that says "Respiratory Physician". I see signs for accountants, engineers, mental health services, chiropractors and dentists, but not the sign I am looking for. So I turn around and drive back up the same road, even slower than before, pressing my nose against the car window as I search for the elusive sign. After turning around for a second time and starting my slow and creepy drive, I decide that it's probably better going on foot.

As soon as I step out of the car it starts to rain, so I run to the closest office and try to open the door. It is locked shut. As I turn away to try the next building, a voice comes from the speaker:
"Helloooo. Who's there?"
Honesty is the best policy ... "Hi, my name is S, and I think I'm lost".
She laughs.
When she has finished laughing, she directs me to the building next door - I was so close!

I traipse next door and find the place unlocked, but the receptionist takes one look at me and sends me to another building round the back, where the medical types must go.

And somehow I am still on time.

The patients are all follow-ups, so there is nothing terribly exciting about the session itself. I do, however, learn something amazing. I FINALLY learn how they test for V/Q mismatch (ventilation / perfusion mismatch in the lungs)! I’m sure I’ve seen it written somewhere, but I never really got it. Turns out, they get the patient to inhale a tracer chemical (using an inhaler device), and then use radio-imaging to take pictures of the lungs from different angles. And then, they inject a tracer into the pulmonary vessels and take the pictures again. And then they just compare the pictures! Here I was thinking it was either some voodoo magic or horribly scientific process. Amazing.

You learn something new (that you probably should have known all along) every day.

No comments: