Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The LOL Surgical consult

Call nights are long- often filled with incredibly boring periods, peppered by intense moments of trauma codes. This night was no different,  we had more ER consults than trauma codes. A good thing for the people involved, but for us, at hour 19, well, a bit of trauma does the exhausted body good-caffeine? Ha! No need with a healthy dose of adrenaline- stabbing, gunshot or 3, housefire with a pregnant woman- that'll getcha going.

I got a consult on an older AA woman. She had an abscess- but it was not specified where. I have learned that getting in on the bread and butter cases, the ones that the interns and residents don't want, are the ones that I want. I can DO them- and learn from them. 

I did my H & P. the history revealed no major medical issues. No surgeries or injuries save a broken tooth or so. 3 kids, all normal vaginal deliveries. +FM of the typical DM, CAD, HTN- but thus far, she had none of the above. Did not smoke, drink, do drugs.  No waving red flags.  Okay! I can DO this! So, her issuse seemed to be just isolated- painful and isolated.

This poor, tiny 78 year old woman had an abscess on her mons pubis. Big one. Denied waxing, was not sexually active.  She was married, but her "man" had been living with another woman for the past 20 years. She was a-okay with this. No one else in her life-lived alone.  She did call her husband when I was interviewing her to ask him what other meds she took- Vit e was pretty much it.

The PE revealed she had the, yeast infection that I had ever seen, and honestly, guys, hope never see again. It was..."impressive". Put that in your admission note and that'll catch someone's attention. As I said, she  denied DM, however, just as I was beginning to ask all the questions, leading at least my differential that such an infection tends to come from in a woman who denied ever being sick, the RN pops her head in "Her BGL is 511". As I was being told this, she was grabbing her Big Oreo Pack out of her purse to munch on. I told her that Oreos are probably off the menu for a bit.

At least I had one answer to one of her problems.

Clearly, however, the other issue was going to be done in the OR. Poor thing. She had a red, hot, fluctuant mass, about 6cmX10cm.  It did not go thru to bone from what we were able to assess in the ED.

 Here is where it gets funny.

She had never been in the hospital. She wanted to take EVERYTHING home- the empty IV bags, the chucks, her phone was out-she was snapping pictures everywhere. I have one of her-she wanted to have one of both of us on my phone too so I'd never forget her. (Not like I could forget her...).

She was so cheerful, so optimistic, and upbeat. She was sitting up in the OR when we got in, talking to everyone a mile a minute. I am sure she was nervous, but none the less, a truly bright spot in the rotation for everyone who touched her that night.

Later, I found out she had been putting Icy-Hot on her "'fected part". I came into her room for her post op check and she had it out to apply it to the open drainage area.  I can only imagine the pain that would have been. I had asked her on initial interview if she had done anything to make it feel better, I guess I needed to ask if she did anything to make it feel better that failed. That I would consider a fail to be sure. She then admitted to putting cabbage compresses on her "'fected part" too. Her post op went smoothly- her BGL were labile as would be expected, but medicine did their magic and they were eventually controlled.

And now, in all the ways that so many of the rotations went in Detroit, her story is so much deeper, sadder and still astounding to me.

Frankly, Sad.

Remember that phone? All those pictures? She had a chronicle of her life in pictures on her phone. If anyone ever got her phone, the things that they would see. She could hardly see her phone, but she took pictures still. When she was showing them to me, about 1/2 way back was a picture of a man in a casket.

 I was taken aback...what in Gods name did she have that for?  I asked of course (I always ask...just my nature). She knew him- he was her neighbor. He had been shot, in front of her, outside her apt. And yes, she had pictures of him on the sidewalk, dead. She knew who shot him.  While telling me about this, she covered her mouth, asked if she was going to Hell because she had lied to the "Po-lease" because she knew that if she admitted she knew, she might be next. You don't live that long on the east side of D-Town if you're a dummy. She clearly is no dummy.  If there is a God, this woman is certainly not going to Hell. She has been there- but her cheerfulness and joy in the world was bigger and greater than what surrounded her.

She said she had pictures of all the people she had seen at funerals. All her friends kids who had died. All the people in her building who had been shot and killed over the years.

She told me that she slept in front of the window now, watching to see if anyone was coming. I am a white girl from the country and I have one thought about guns besides ban 'em. I want FAR away from them- esp if someone I don't know is carrying them.  Her thought was that if she saw who was coming, she could get away. She was scared but it is what she knew. Me? I'da picked a door. A solid door.

I don't remember her name, I have her picture still. I hope she is okay. She was discharged home after 2 days stay to get her glucose under control. I hope she followed up- and I hope that somehow she has found some peace and quiet in her life.  Yes, I asked SW if they could somehow help, but no- nothing to do. She was A&OX3. Frankly, she was a great example of survivor, strong, beautiful, an optimist in the light of all that is so difficult about D-Town.

This happened well over 2 months ago. I am ending my stint of being in Detroit for rotations. Overall, I have gained such an appreciation of the deep recesses of humanity that exist downtown. Yes, it's a terrible place, but under the layer of grime and filth, there really is something very special about the city. The grit, the simple acts of survival that profoundly effected my rotations there. Certainly I learned something about medicine or at least I hope so, but I also learned a lot about people. I actually do believe that the city can be brought back.

There are a lot more stories- more blog posts to come. It's a lot of driving to get to and from- easy 2 1/2-3 hrs a day. I won't miss that! Makes for no time to write anything. A2 next month....