Sunday, April 3, 2011

Finding Pneumo

Excited to finish my last core rotation and move on to my first elective, I wanted to make a quick stop at the doctor's office for a prescription. Unfortunately, the cough I had was not readily treatable by prescription and would have to be further evaluated at the hospital.

The "Patient" Rotation

Reluctantly, I made my way to the hospital to have the spontaneous pneumothorax treated. A chest tube and days later I still find myself suction tied to my room awaiting a change in pulmonary status. The first time I was given oxygen I almost recoiled as though they intended it for another patient and must have made a mistake. The nurse responded and said, "it's hard to be a patient, huh?" The truth is that I don't know what it is like to be a patient. Over the last few months I have been contemplating what it must be like to be stuck in the hospital bed waiting for providers, asking for medications and not on your own turf. What do patients feel with certain medications? How do they manage to clean up on their own? Is the patient food worse than the food medical staff get? Does it really take that long for call lights to be answered? Now I am learning first hand what patient life is really like.

Because of the suction device attached to the wall, I get a moving radius of 15 feet, almost like a dog tied to a stake in the yard. No walks in the hall and I can't even get to the other side of my room to use the waste bin. Fortunately, I have a window overlooking The Strip and the sun shines in its little square of heaven for a few hours every day. Despite an occasional delay in response to my call light, I've been very well cared for. Perhaps it has helped that I am a medical student and the staff are potentially peers. Perhaps they are just that good and I have been lucky to have such nice help. Either way, every part of this experience is new. There is no doubt in my mind that this short stint of time is teaching me more about medicine than I could ever learn in my medical training.

I am not refusing the experience or wishing it wasn't me. Rather, I am accepting it as an opportunity to learn what the other side of being a doctor is all about. I want to absorb it and unfortunately eat, breathe and sleep it. One thing is certain, patience is mandatory, both with self and others. It is not an easy process with  ups and downs around every corner. I was looking forward to starting a new rotation tomorrow in Emergency Medicine at an out of state facility. Plans have changed and I may no longer have that experience, but I feel it has been replaced with an experience just as meaningful. 

Question of the Week
Which of the following statements is true regarding spontaneous pneumothorax?

A. Primary spontaneous pneumothorax typically occurs in tall, thin, older adults.
B. The definitive treatment of a pneumothorax involves the placement of an intercostal drain.
C. Catamenial pneumothorax typically occurs during the end of menses when a patient is taking oral contraceptives.
D. Hemothorax occurs in up to 20% of patients with spontaneous pneumothorax.
E. Pleurectomy is preferred over mechanical pleurodesis for recurrent pneumothorax.

Answer & Explanation


  1. First of all... one of the all time best titles ever for a post. Secondly - having been a patient as a resident, it's a lesson you will look back on as a formative event in becoming a physician. Hope you heal quickly!

  2. Dr. Brandt, thank you for your wise words. I have truly been changed as a result of this experience and will definitely use it as my career in medicine continues.

  3. Hello, I love reading through your blog, I wanted to leave a little comment to support you and wish you a good continuation. Wish you best of luck for all your best efforts. Medical suction pump, Suction pumps medical.


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