Call of the Sirens (Part VII)
Which, of course, led her to just relax and have some fun and be told she should really go into pediatrics by lots of misguided people. But nonono. She knew better, she did. She could never see the tinytiny eardrums of those tinytiny infants, brought in by their terrified parents worried that they had ear infections. She also knew that she just couldn't take a life of constantly reassuring those worriedworried parents. But most of all, she knew if she went into peds, she'd have ended up in prison for having messily and publicly murdered the first person she came across to abuse a child. Either that or she'd have offed herself after the first time she made a mistake that endangered a child.
No. Peds it was not to be, fun as it was. She did learn how to give a good shot, though. How vaccinations would happen in the out patient clinic was someone would have a small child who needed several vaccines and the call would go out to all available nurses, nurse practitioners and me, the lone med stud. As soon as we had enough bodies, each armed with a syringe, we'd sidle on up to the tot, peacefully resting in the arms of a trusted adult. We'd each grab a limb, syringe firmly grasped in the other hand and, on the count of three, we would simultaneously stab the little angel, instantaneously transforming them into a howling, sobbing devil, complete with bright red complexion, banshee howls and visage of doom and destruction.
They said this was apparently less traumatic than giving each shot separately. Maybe they were right. I think there were studies quoted. There are always studies quoted in medical education. There seemed to be about the same amount of screaming this way as there was when my own two got their shots, one at a time, and there wasn't all the distressing repeat performance for the subsequent injections that happened with giving them in series.
The other thing I remember was that lunch and a show was provided each noon. Lunch was usually some sort of sandwich assortment and the show was usually something along the lines of "Pediatric Eczema and You" or "Meningococcemia: Know it. Fear it." Good times. The peds residents and attendings were also a happy, cheerful bunch, almost to a person.
I'm sure they were all heavily drugged or lobotomized. Perhaps both.
So that's that for the third year of med school. The rotation that was by far the most fun was the one I'd known from the start that I had no desire to pursue. I'm sure there's some sort of life lesson in that but I'm damned if I'm going to learn from it.
Now, the fourth year of med school is sort of like the third, but the rotations are usually smaller bites and you have to decide what the hell you want to go off and be an indentured servant for at the end of the year. You get to take ENT ("otorhinolaryngology" for those who crave big, multi-sylabic words) and learn to use the head mirror (that mirror thingy that olde-tyme docs wore strapped to their foreheads), which is actually really hard to use. At least it was for me. There's this trick to peering through the hole in the middle while focusing the light from the lamp across the room that reflects off the mirror and into the patient's throat, all while using an angled mirror (like the dentist uses) to see around the bend in the throat to examine the vocal chords, while NOT making the patient vomit all over you by inadvertantly bumping the back of their throat with the mirror. Of course, now-a-days, you'd just use a head lamp to see, or, even better, a fiberoptic laryngoscope, so you could actually see 'round the bend of the throat and not make everything thing up. ("Oh, yeah! I see it! That bitty nodule on the miniscule vocal chord. Really. I see it. Promise.")
You'd also do a week or two in ophthalmology (the eyeball guys), and get really skeezed out by all things horrible and eyebally. (The worst? The enucleation surgeries where they removed the whole damned eye for some sort of hellacious tumor or other. Heart rending and really gross. Yeah team.) Why the hell anyone would want to go into that was beyond me, but they did. It was a highly sought after residency. Blech. Two of my friends went into it. I'd always thought them sane, but I had to reconsider after that.
There was a week spent in the auditorium doing Law And Medicine, which scared the shit out of us. "YOU WILL BE SUED." "IT WILL BE HORRIBLE." "YOU WILL WANT TO KILL YOURSELF." "THIS IS NORMAL." "YOU WILL THEN TURN TO COPIOUS DRINK AND/OR DRUGS." "THIS WILL RESULT IN THE LOSS OF YOUR PRACTICE AND YOUR LICENCE AND YOUR FEW SHARDS OF SELF RESPECT." "HERE ARE SOME MORE CAUTIONARY TALES OF REAL PHYSICIANS, EACH ONCE A WONDERFUL, PROMISING PROFESSIONAL, NOW TO BE FOUND UNDER THE BURNSIDE BRIDGE WITH THE DISBARRED LAWYERS AND OTHER BUMS." Gah. "But don't let that bother you."
There were several electives, like dermatology (oozy and dull and all the rashes looked like all the other rashes) and ICU (terrifying but cool); and you also had to take neurology (oh, good GOD the damned neurologists and their 5+ hour attending rounds with nary a chair in sight; oh, how we all hated neurology with all their fiddly tests that never worked like the books said and their confounding and complicated tracts and cross-tracts. Like learning the wiring of an enormous 1910 house.)
And then, there was surgery. And the sirens called. Oh, yes they did.
But I am tired and there are children to be put to bed. So I will leave you here with images of eyeballs and rashes and a line of drooling, incontinent patients (and students) with horrible neurological diseases in your heads.
Because I'm not a pediatrician and, therefore, not nice like that.