But Happy 4th of July everyone! I hope you all gorged yourselves on food and spirits and got your fireworks fix.
Speaking of fireworks, I’ve taken it for granted that for the past five years I’ve always lived in a part of Alaska that gets sunshine for 24 hours around this day. Turns out in Sitka, because we are so far South, it does get dark, therefore, they had fireworks last night.
Which completely jolted me out of a sound sleep and continued until well past 1am this morning. Needless to say, we were all a little sleepy in the lecture class this morning.
So, this week has been the biggest learning experience yet. I learned how to give a pelvic exam and do a pap smear and how to examine the male genitalia as well. I also practiced a Nervous System and Mental Status Exam. And can you believe that next week is my last week and I’ll have completed the second phase of this course? Holy shit, where the hell did the time go?
Anywho, I had another one of those “wow…this is where I should be” moments today while examining a patient who suffered from a stroke last weekend. “Mr. M” had been unresponsive since he’d been admitted, in fact, he was the subject of my Nervous system exam a few days ago. I had to perform a cardiac, digestive, and respiratory exam on him today, and of course, having learned this early on, I spoke to him the entire time I was with him, because hearing really is the last sense to go.
So remember that when you’re all arguing around your poor relative when they’re in a coma…they can hear you, I promise. Don’t say anything to them that you wouldn’t say to them were they awake.
Aaaaaanyway, so I do what I need to do and at the end, after debriefing with my preceptor, I turned my attention back to my patient and asked: “Mr. M, can you wiggle your toes for me?”
And his right toes wiggled! My heart skipped a beat and I asked him to do it one more time..”one more time, Mr. M.”
My voice broke as I said “Good job, Mr. M!” and I rubbed his foot and fought back tears. Just two days ago, he was unable to follow commands or acknowledge that he even heard me. I knew I’d done the right thing in explaining to Mr. M exactly what I was doing while performing his exam today. And in some small way, maybe by doing that, I’ve given him hope.
That, my friends is worth all my stress in the end. Happy Independence Day!