Tuesday, August 09, 2005

I Killed Another One...

Yes! I finally had a patient enroll in my alternative surgery study for head and neck cancer (that's about all I can say about the project since I had to swear a blood oath in which I agreed to sell my children into slavery at the device company if I leaked any information).

People often ask if my job is exciting. Well, it can be -- once I was stalked by an apparently very lonely male research patient (whose mom took away the car so he couldn't do it any more) -- and another time, a patient actually picked up my fishbowl (with fish and plant in it) and DRANK out of it, and then there was the time the electricity went out in my building at 5pm while I was interviewing a double amputee and we were on the second floor with no ramp...Oh, and don't forget the needle stick injury (of course, from the bisexual IV drug user...who luckily tested negative for EVERYTHING, as did I).

Oh wait.

Maybe it's "exciting" as in cutting edge, new treatments, late nights at the lab pioneering new fields, scientists poised at the threshold of arcane knowledge? Oh, well, maybe tiny bits of that here and there.

Mostly, though, research is waiting. And paper. Lots and lots and lots of paper.

I have a new study patient. And yes, part of this has been very exciting -- I got to sit in on a 13-hour surgery, a delicate, difficult surgery; too far back in the oral cavity (or "mouth", for non-medical people -- hehe) to go in that way. So the only other way to get at the area while still preserving as much function as possible is to go up from the neck, peel back the side of the face, and cut the jawbone.

One of the reasons I had to be present for the surgery is to write down everyone who worked on the patient, the amount of time each person spent, the medications given the patient...for the entire time. Even though all that will be in the medical record, I've learned through years of doing this that you just don't rely on anyone else to gather data unless they are being paid to gather data.

It's amazing, really, how many people you can fit in a surgery suite, and how many of them come and go, especially nurses and surgical techs. But I did get to watch the attending anesthesiologist do odd tricks (apparently he wasn't getting enough attention) and listen to the docs sing along with 70s tunes. Plus my docs are cool enough that they didn't mind my frequent and sometimes goofy questions...what can I say, I'm a total nerd.

At week 2 of the study, I have already filled 50 some odd pages of data, PLUS pages my own notes and observations, PLUS physician notes, PLUS copies of previous and current tests and history. The file is already pretty thick, and this is a two year study.

Everything went beautifully, my patient is recovering nicely and is in good spirits.

And that headline? It's a tree. All that paper...I killed another tree.


Gone Away said...

All the blood and guts and gore and veins - it would make me squeam...

Jodie said...

Clive, it used to make me feel that way too, and then I had pets and kids... :D

At least in surgery, everything gets draped so you only see the body part that's being worked on. Which helps a lot.

Hanuman1960 said...

I could never work in the medical field! :P

Lita said...

It sounds like you have an amazing job and you have such a good sense of humor about it.

Rhodester said...

What an entertaining and informative post.. it rocks!

Keeefer said...

My lil lady (ok that sounds patronising but she only about 4ft10) used to work in theatres as a medical rep (she used to be a cardiology nurse and worked in infectious dieseases too.....hows that for a put down when you try to pick her up (Hey darling what do you do for a living? Cure leering assholes like you of STDs)).
She has some great tales of the antics that happen in the operating room. I was amazed when i first learnt that Surgeons sing, have mini quizzes, answer their Mobiles and arrange golf tournaments etc etc. But i guess after the first hundred or so cases it is just another day at the office

Sonia said...

Hi Jodie,

Thanks for visiting my site! Your job sounds really interesting - I have a licence to practice surgery on animals but I've always been too squeamish to work on humans. Maybe it's too close to home!

Third Degree Nurse said...

I am so impressed! I don't think I could stand to be a surgical nurse unless I were one of those that doesn't have to stay in one place for hours on end. I get nuts just standing with my lab partner in close quarters in chem lab.

I love the thought of working in research and hope to do this someday. Are you a clinical nurse specialist?

I commend you; research calls for such attention to detail, thoroughness and concientiousness. I hope your results are what you are hoping for.

And by the way, you have a great sense of humor :)

Jodie said...

You are all so nice!

I have an associate RN and a BA. It's not really the degree so much in research as the attitude. :)

PS ThirdDegree, when you're ready to graduate, I can give you a research nurse contact at KUMC. Just let me know.