26 June 1996

 26 June, 1996



Four piggies died today, that you might live. 


You think I'm being silly, or perhaps making some insane reference to the sausage industry but I'm not.  There they were, under general anesthesia, spread-eagled on the table before us.  We took our vorpal-swords in hand...

No.  This is serious stuff, actually.  I'm in the midst of the Advanced Trauma Life Support course that all of the incoming surgeons and emergency-medicine types are required to take.  It's fairly dry, with lots of emphasis on things like treatment algorithms, working numbers for what this amount of blood loss will do to you, when it's appropriate to stick a breathing tube into someone's face that kind of stuff.  Dry, dry, dry.  Memorize it quick kids, 'cause there's an exam tomorrow, and by all accounts its rather a bitch.  "You guys better study tonight..."

Dry indeed until somebody's blood is dripping onto the floor in the trauma bay, and incidentally all over your new sneakers.  It seems the Powers That Be figure that it might be better to sacrifice a couple of pigs than to have us practice these tricks for the first time on your spouse or kid or parent.  Go figure.

So we cut various and assorted holes in pigs, coached along by a remarkably gentle and encouraging upper-year surgery resident.  We went through the procedures at a nice leisurely pace, helping each other out and stopping in the midst of things to let the other people on the team stick a finger here to feel lung or a beating heart through the space one of us just created between ribs.

That piggy (may her little piggy anima rest in peace) did all of us a service today: you, me, and everyone who I'll ever take care of.  Nervous as I'll be the first time I actually have to do one of those rapacious life-saving procedures, I'll know that I can in fact do it, because I have done it.

I don't like killing things, not a bit.  Much as it will offend the PETA folks though, I'd far rather ace a pig than stumble around like an idiot when you, or maybe somebody's little girl, are brought into my emergency department. 


The nice thing about this ATLS course (and the ACLS course that we finished yesterday) is that it gives me a chance to meet and work with a lot of the new interns in a relatively unpressured environment.  As best I can tell thus far, my fellow 'terns are a nice bunch of folks.  I can only hope that I've made as good an impression on them as they have on me. 


27 June

I passed the ATLS course.  Wheee!