Monday, January 31, 2011

Baloney Amputation

"You're on Vascular hey, have you seen any cool surgeries?" asks my friend.

"Oh yes," I reply, "I got to assist with a baloney amputation today"

"Baloney amputation??" he puzzles

"No, silly!" I reply, "A ba-lo-ney amputation. Where they cut off part of the leg BELOW the KNEE"

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Greatest Biscuit Recipe in the World

This is my favourite biscuit ("cookie") recipe. I'm not really a food blogger, but I received this recipe as a chain mail fwd and feel obliged to pass it on.

It's quite labour-intensive so I recommend making these biscuits with a friend.

1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 cups plain flour
2 1/2 cups blended rolled oats (blend into powder in blender)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp carb soda
250g choc chips
1 x 250g block good quality chocolate, grated
1 1/2 cups chopped nuts

Cream butter and both sugars
Add eggs and vanilla
Mix in flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder and carb soda
Add choc chips, chocolate and nuts, mix well
Roll into balls, place 2 inches apart on a baking tray
Bake at 180C (375F) until golden-brown

You can use whatever type of chocolate and nuts you like - my favourite is white chocolate with peanuts; I think the original recipe said milk chocolate with walnuts. The biscuits will store for over a week in an airtight container and have been known to survive long trips via Australia Post in a padded envelope. As an added bonus, this recipe also has the proven ability to bribe nurses. Greatest biscuit recipe in the world.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Little Lids

"They're like little lids, to the ulcers" - Nurse admiring a pathology pot full of scabs.

Ward clerk, retching, "I'm going for a walk"


RMO on phone, "Yes yes, Mr X in Bed 8 ... what was that? He's not 'buggy'? Oh ... yes, yes he is. He's MRSA"

Hearing Aid

"I have a hearing aid, you know. When I turn it on, like this, I CAN hear you" - 80-something lady on Vascular Ward.

Consultant, leaning in, "Can you hear me now?"

Patient, "I beg your pardon?"

Friday, January 21, 2011

Jelco Junkie

The interns are flat out today. One of our patients on another ward requires a new cannula, and having been judged as almost competent, I am sent off to do it.

As I enter the patient's room, two nurses look me up and down and say, "this must be the Jelco lady. Heh. Heh." When I ask if he is difficult to cannulate, one just says "look at his skin". I glance at the man's arms - crusted skin and bleeding sores. Beautiful.

I busily started preparing the equipment - open the packets, loosen the bung, draw up the saline flush. The 80-something patient proceeds to tell me about himself: "I'm ready to die. If I fell over in the parking lot, I wouldn't mind. Well I WOULDN'T mind, coz I'd be dead, but you know, I'm ready. My wife and I don't worry about dying, because we know the other one would soon follow. Our house is paid for, even our funerals are paid for - we're ready." He doesn't look like he's about to die, and he's in for an elective procedure, but I appreciate the information. "I'll try not to knock you off with this cannula" I inform him, "But at least now I won't feel so bad if I accidentally do". He considers this for a while, and then laughs.

Tightening the tourniquet, I begin searching his arms for a usable vein beneath the crusted sores. He decides that he recognises me from ward round, remembering the buckles on my shoes, before declaring that black suits me ("credit where credit's due" he says). He also admires my tan and tells me that I'll make someone a good wife one day. Oh, good.

There are no visible veins on the backs of his hands, nothing on the wrists, nothing on the backs of the forearms. I search and search, twisting his arm into awkward positions until I spot the "Duchess vein" (I'll tell you about this sometime. An intern taught me about it this morning). Perfectly straight, it runs from his wrist to his elbow. He obligingly holds his arm in an awkward twisted position as I insert the cannula. Success!

Eager to escape back to the Vascular ward, I gather the equipment back into its plastic tray, inform the nurse that the cannula is in (she looks pleasantly surprised), and hurry towards the door. Swerving a large yellow object, I find myself flying through the air as my feet go one way and my head goes the other way. I let go of the plastic tray and crash to the ground in a loud clatter of spare cannulae, sharps container and human body.

Nobody sees me fall, but I have made such a noise that by the time I stand up there are at least 6 nurses hovering in an anxious circle around me, "Are you ok, did you hurt yourself, are you sure you're ok, (she went down on her knees you know), you have to make sure you're not hurt". I am so embarrassed that I can only excuse myself and run away.

It is not until I glance balefully back at the 'yellow object' that I realise it is a Wet Floor sign, and not until I get back to the ward that I notice my scraped hand and bruised knee. But at least I got that cannula in.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The right left

The registrars are standing by a patient's bed during ward round.

"He had the graft on his left leg?" asks the first

"I thought it was the right leg" replies the second

Turning to the patient, they ask "where was your graft done?"

Pointing to his right leg the patient replies, "my left leg"

And that's why registrars don't talk to patients.


By the grace of the fourth-year rotations allocator, I will be spending the next 5 and a bit weeks with the Vascular Team. At first I thought, "Oh no - 6 weeks of yucky ulcers", but it appears that, as the Medical Student, I do not have to look at the ulcers at all. I carry a backpack full of dressings as I follow the registrar and his entourage around the wards, occasionally peeping in through the drawn curtains to pass in some gauze or a green sheet.

After the ward round, the yucky ulcers are all bandaged up in layers of gauze and foam, nicely hidden from sight. When the interns do their patient reviews later (this is the part where the patient gets to talk and we all remember that they are human), the wound is not uncovered. They check obs, feel abdomens, listen to chests, try to find pulses and ask questions. Not so bad.

The best part is the compulsory coffee break after ward round, with coffee paid for by somebody with a paycheck (I.e. never the medical student).

The best-and-worst part is that I have to / get to do stuff all day. I do admissions, write discharge summaries, place cannulae, do examinations, and take blood.

The worst part is taking a quick lunch break and running into classmates as they leave to spend the afternoon in the sun.

And so begins fourth-year.