Monday, May 29, 2006

Trauma Surgery Rounds at Harbor

I shadowed the trauma team at Harbor UCLA hospital today.

There was a man who was brought in naked, just the way he was when he jumped (or maybe fell) off the third story balcony of his home, blue pills scattered all over the place. He had multiple fractures throughout his body: left humerus, right pubic symphisis, transverse spinous processes. He had slit his wrist somehow before he left his loft, yet despite all this was amazingly still alive. His perineal bleeding led to his scrotum swelling up to the size of his thigh (i kid you not); I wonder if he thought he was more of a man for this. He crashed while waiting for the interventional radiologists, who were the only lazy bastards in the hospital that couldn't be found - 20 minutes of this man's life added to their already inflated paychecks. A thoracotomy was performed, and the trauma surgeon manually pumped John Doe's heart with the accuracy of any good SA node. I watched Doe's left lung inflate and deflate, inflate and deflate, into the open air of the OR. He flatlines. No good. No pulse. Intrathoracic defibrillators. Still nothing. Ok, wait. A heartbeat. Radiologists continued looking for the ruptured vessels to stop the incessant bleeding. Need more blood. The blood bank says they're running out. Tell them to call the Red Cross. More blood. More plasma. They drip the life of others into him as it drips back out as his own onto the OR floor. He flatlines. Time of death, 21:55. 16 units of blood, 12 units of plasma, transferred from life saving bags to the OR floor and his scrotum. Police say he had been drinking heavily while abusing antidepressants for the past week. He didn't want to live anyway. With slit wrists, blue pills, and a third story balcony, what right did we have to try and save him?


About Me

I'm a quixotic idealist that's readjusting to the reality of the world around him. An aesthetic at heart, willing to not shower a week at a time to go camping, exploring, hiking, etc. I love food, poker, and anything that can be turned into a competition.