Thursday, December 1, 2011

MEDICINE/ Tiny reminders

The other day I woke up and just really wasn't feeling it.
I have days that I'm not sure I want to be a doctor.
I definitely don't want to be a medical student.
And I certainly don't want to get up and go to a hospital.

But I eventually scraped myself off the bed on the third snooze 
and made a deal with myself that I only had to make it through the day,
I didn't have to feel awake or enjoy it or do it well.
I just had to show up.

I've been working in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU),
 and as soon as I arrived I was informed that triplets were being born by c-section that day.
So much for a slow day.

During the delivery,
there was a symphony of organized chaos going.
There were two ob/gyn teams in the room,
the anesthesia team,
2 nurses for each of the three babies,
the neonataologist,
the physician's assistant,
and me.

I tried to stay out of the way mostly,
and went through the motions of suctioning out the babies' mouths 
once they came out.

Eventually all the babies were cleaned up, checked over, documented with footprints, and stabilized, 
and we were waiting for the transportation to bring them downstairs to the NICU from the delivery room.

After the first 2 babies went downstairs,
I was left with one of the nurses to hold the oxygen mask over the 3rd (and most struggling) baby's face.
I had my hands around the baby's tiny head to keep it in the right position and was holding the mask on with my thumb and forefingers,
when I felt a tiny hand grasp onto my ring finger.

And at that moment I realized that to that baby,
I wasn't just a fumbling medical student,
and I hadn't just "shown up" for work.

I was making sure he was getting oxygen into his underdeveloped fledgling lungs.
And my hand was the first hand he had ever held.

And I looked into his eyes as he clutched onto my finger 
with his tiny almost translucent chest flailing and straining to get air into his lungs,
and I told him he was doing a great job,
and welcome to the world.

So even though I'm still not sure what I want to do when I grow up,
and sometimes as a medical student you get "pimped" to the verge of tears,
not even attending physicians get to help bring triplets safely into the world one week 
and a few weeks later be in a heart bypass surgery.
It's been a wild year.

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