All good things (s/p surgery)

Signing out of the (general) surgery suite with a happy heart, a full stomach, and maybe more brain cells. ✌️

Highlights of the week include obligatory photoshoots in the operating room. This is what we do when there are no more pending procedures. I’m actually really happy to be here. (It may or may not have taken 20 minutes for me, Shaira, and Erika to be satisfied with our photos.)

Throwback to 2020

Sometime early in 2020, a bit before the lockdown officially began: we were clueless clerks waking up at ungodly hours to report to the surgery departments of East Avenue Medical Center, then Ospital ng Makati, then The Medical City.

At that time, I had no love for surgery. In fact, I actively dreaded scrubbing in for procedures. The feeling was born from my healthy fear of scrub and circulating nurses, the rumors I’d hear about scary residents and attendings, the way everyone kept moving too fast for me to follow. I like to go my own pace.

In fact, I think I dreaded surgery so much that my body knocked me out for five whole days with a bonus medical certificate for sinus infection.

Read: Nine Things I Learned in Clerkship

But we never cross the same river twice. Maybe it’s the air, the passing of time, or even myself that evolved, but I actually looked forward to time in the OR suite this 2021. Only the ephemeral is of lasting value, and all that. I finally unlocked the secrets of getting along with the scrub and circulating nurses (in one memorable moment, the secret is shared love for KPop). And none of the residents or attendings inspired the fear of god.

The pace was just right.

2/17/2020. Watching the whiteboard back in clerkship. Now even this area’s changed –renovation meant a bigger locker room for female doctors, taking over this little kiosk area, and the pandemic meant no more standing around in groups.

Fast forward

I don’t know if it’s the thought of boards happening in a couple months’ time that’s messing with my perception of time, but moments either come by too quickly or not at all. I blink and I’m in the OR suite, scrubbing in for a 8-hour case (I will never forget that first day). I blink again and I’m scrubbing out.

Blink, and it’s two shifts in the ER. Then the floors. Then it’s done.

How is it almost July?

Simple interrupted. Got to stitch a small laceration in the ER, which is already a blessing because our ER duties were otherwise benign. Maybe too benign… Shaira and I probably only saw around 15-20 trauma/surgery referral cases over two days.

Making the rounds

Rotating in the surgery suite meant some lull time in between surgical procedures and errands. I got to meet many new clerks (aka fourth year medical students) also rotating in surgery. I’d talk about the three clerks that apparently fainted during our first week of rotation, but I’d rather not immortalize a sensitive issue.

Intellectually I know I was also as close-to-clueless when I was a clerk, but there was something precious about seeing others don a sterile gown or try closed gloving for the first time. (I did my best to help, I promise). Even writing SOAP notes was an adventure. I’m really rooting for you, batch 2022. I’m sure you’ll be great interns next year! Claiming it!

Surgery floors intern + stellar surgery floors resident + really precious surgery floors clerks. I’ve always disregarded floors work as a hospitalist-averse, but I had two really smooth duties! And we also maybe had free milk tea from Doc Anton. ❤️

I don’t know how floor SRODs (surgery residents-on-duty) keep their head on. At least forty patients spanning four floors? And somehow the energy to educate watchers and families, update consultants, coordinate with nurses, report to seniors, and feed errant interns and clerks?

My muscles are flagging just thinking about it. My brain also.

But there was something even more impressive than their ability to power through endless hours of work and equally endless tons of pressure –it was the ability to reflect only the best, and to let the worst of things go.

Here in TMC, or on #medtwitter, there’s a movement to be kinder and to be better than the giants who’ve come before. Younger consultants treat their trainees with respect and compassion, senior residents instruct their younger colleagues with more understanding, our residents keep telling us to take breaks for meals and rest.

All the good things, etc. Hoping to pay it forward someday soon. ❤️

Meet and greet: CEIP version! Finally got to meet one of our surgical CEIP faculty members in real life!!! I was almost afraid to disappoint, but Doc Sumo was just zen in the OR suite. ❤️ The laparoscopic cholecystectomy was done in under an hour too.

While “retracting” (essentially just holding the trocar in place), Doc said not to be too tense, but also not to be so lax as to lose the position and the critical view. Goldilocks in surgery. There’s a metaphor here somewhere.

Basics of wound care with a non-basic boss. Thank you Nurse Van for letting me tag along and help during your rounds. :) And for taking the time to teach more about wound care, all the different adjuncts and management options, and the TIME concept. I hope this rotation stays post-lockdown/next year for both interns and clerks.*

*I need to remember to write this down on our rotation feedback form. Practicals of wound care an absolute must for those in clinical rotations. We can’t really survive on that one hall lecture alone, though it was a good foundation for the theoreticals.

I can’t believe I spent those six weeks in surgery clerkship pretending like I knew what “wet-to-dry” actually meant. (The technique in COD in those days was just to copy how the last duty team members did the dressing, and hope for the best.)

Signing out

I had a couple of misgivings over surgery since the schedule seemed more intense. Not as intense as the 36-hour duties of our EAMC and QMMC days (I hated how my skin would break out after 24-hour duties.. we wore masks to hide our greasy faces long before it was cool), but definitely not as boards review-friendly as our pediatrics rotation.

Read: With the cool kids (s/p Pedia)

But it turned out fine. I still have a mountain of backlogs for boards review, but my sanity and my soul’s intact.

The real star of the show, Doc Shaira Dy. Thanks for being an excellent (and chill and benign) duty partner! And photographer, and model. Saktong aral, chika and trabaho lang po.
The real real star of the show: free Coco drinks from Batch 2017!!! Wahh I really love the One Big Family feels in ASMPH. #21BigFlight #SkyIsThe21mit #Heartstro17g
Unexpected endings. For our last night as surgery OR interns, we played Just Dance with our RIM Doc Maya (not in picture as she had to go do rounds at some point). Mei, Jas, me and Shaira — in our defense, there were no more procedures scheduled for the night. Also unexpected: I topped the scoreboard at least twice. Dancer Jari who. 😌

The end of surgery rotation means there are only a couple of weeks left until the end of internship, and then only a handful of weeks until the board exams. I’ve been gripped with an increasing urge to document experiences, try new things, and reconnect with more people. We’re about to leave the nest.

So I’m trying to say yes to as many things as possible, which is horrible for my boards review but great for my mental health. It’s just pesky exams and inconveniently timed duties that get in my way. And also the ongoing pandemic.

Mood upswing! The night before our exit exam for surgery and orthopedics, I tried a hot stone fully body massage at The Spa Sedona, and met up with some people for drinks that same night. Worth it.

P.S. Follow me on Instagram! Or recommend me more Instagram shops… online shopping is really how I cope.

Thank you!!! Who knows when next I’ll get to scrub in a major procedure? Unless maybe family medicine residents scrub in procedures……. I have no idea what I’ll be doing this time next year. 🤪

Until next time! ❤️

(Which is either three weeks from now, when I write about my minors/elective rotation, or in a couple of days, when I finally post some book reviews I’ve left on the burner.)

For similar posts, check out my medical school tag.

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