Saturday, June 09, 2007

Putting Oneself In Others' Shoes

Haven't finish my ramblings of the kkb "trip". Okay, fine, I know we're supposed to go there to learn! And I sure did!

Anyway, something scary happened to me on our 1st day clerking patients in the hospital. Me and my partner had finished clerking our patient - a nice malay old man - when we saw that there was a procedure being done at the bed beside. So we decided to wait and observe how a urinary catheter was inserted.

(jargons from henchforth will be used - so skip if you don't understand okay. I'm just too lazy to explain myself, blek!)

The patient had quite a pitiful history. He was involved in an MVA around a year ago, was now lame in both legs and had shattered his pelvic bone plus other complications. And just recently, he had problems in micturition. So now the doctor wanted to insert a urinary catheter so that he could urinate.

This was the 2nd time they're doing this procedure. It didn't work the 1st time or this time either. Everytime they tried to get something out from the catheter, there was no urine. The patient was in A LOT of pain. His face was all distorted in pain, at that moment, I really could almost feel his pain. (yes, I am an empathic person) The rest of us were wincing visibly now and then too at the thought of the pain he must be going thru. So it wasn't me alone.

It was then when it happened. I had a very acute attack of nausea. Not wanting to disgrace myself by vomitting in the ward (!!), I slowly walked out to find the nearest toilet. Suddenly, immense dizzyness seized me. I didn't know which way was the toilet. The whole world was spinning, my legs felt weak and I couldn't stand properly.

It wasn't like the normal dizzyness where you could still walk around. It felt almost like fainting (not that I've fainted before tho). I nearly lost my footing and fell into the drain. My forehead was suddenly soaked in cold sweat - literally. I was practically scared shitless coz I didn't know what was happening to me. I have always been a very healthty person, so these sort of things had never happened to me before. [hey, I never even had a nose bleed in my life!]

I had to sit down at a corner on the floor - labcoat, stethoscope and all - near the toilet entrance (yeah I managed to find it in the state I was in eh) to get my bearings. I felt so unwell that I had to bury my head as lower as possible. Two people who walked by kept asking me if I was okay. [thks for your concern btw]

After quite sometime, I felt okay enough to try to get back to the ward... but still felt a bit shaky on my feet. When my frenz saw me, they were very shocked. They said that my face and (especially my lips) were very pale. Puifun came rushing to my side. I felt shaky with relief (that at least if anything happened, they're there) and nearly fell down again. blek.

They made me sit down while Puifun went to the canteen to get me some water and glucose! She got me 2 sweets and some mineral water. Luckily Jiayu managed to assure me that smtg similar happened to her b4 so I wasn't so worried (too much of watching House MD I think, lol).

I felt so much better after resting and was normal soon after. Phew~ Thks ya, guys for the concern. =) They were asking me a bit of history and I felt a teenie bit annoyed - so there you go - the experience of being an irritated patient! hehe.

Later I called my dad to enquire why this fainting spell occured. He said it was probably that I put myself in the patient's shoes a bit too much and felt his pain. And that it's normal.

I felt so relieved - that it wasn't some severe debiliatiating disease or that I can't stomach seeing gross scenes thus crippling my chances in becoming a competent doctor. I always tot that I'd have the guts (or would make myself have the guts) to handle whatever gross stuff that will eventually come our way. Luckily, it was probably just too much empathy at the wrong time.

And sometimes we wonder why doctors had to detach themselves from the patients. So much for putting oneself in the patient's shoes, huh...

If it makes a doctor become an incompetent idiot that can't even string a sentence together, then I guess in the end we really need to detach ourselves from our patients (at least partially) to get the job done. Makes one think more, doesn't it?

Anyway, what I learnt from this is that doctors are just humans, so sometimes we shldn't blame them if they're too cold and distant - coz that is how they can function well. Now I must keep telling myself to emotionally/mentally detach when a patient's in pain so that I won't have a fainting spell again!

I was totally fine when I finally got to see part of a delivery the same day, hours later. And it was much more bloody than that. A lot of female students normally get turn away by the thought of giving birth themselves after witnessing a delivery, coz it's scary in a way.

Right, I shld end my ramblings now... Study progress is still kinda slow. But at least I don't stress up so easily now. yeah!

It's a long long journey, the road to have that Dr. in front of your name.

Here's a video of A Day in the Life of a Med Student. It's funny how med students overseas share quite a few similarities to their counterparts here eh...

Mad med students - UNITE! :P


Johnny Ong said...

no wonder the govt organised hospital visits for potential medical undergraduates, to prepare them for such scenarios.

yr dad a doctor too?

good to know an up and coming doctor now so that in future i cld consult online

Zzzyun said...

yeah come to think of it, those hosp visits prepare them for the real thing and not some imaginary cool doctors scenes (think House or Grey's anatomy)...

yup my dad's a doctor too. one of the reasons he inspired me to be one. =)