Tuesday, November 02, 2004
Election Day 2004
Today was one of the more exciting days of my life. I had my first chance to translate the doctor's words to a Persian patient. Too bad the guy was deaf. Next I saw my first intubation. First we visited the patient, who seemed just fine. She had a hip replacement done last week and had recovered and she was going to be sent home tomorrow. Well, two hours after we saw her, we got a page that she was experiencing extreme shortness of breath. So we dashed back to her room in a different building and sure enough she was gasping for air. We sent her to the ICU and followed her down there and settled her in. Her surgeon came in along her nurses and respiratory therapy (and a high school student who was doing her first day in respiratory therapy for clinical rotations). The patient was sedated and the surgeon started to intubate. Now, I'm only familiar with intubation from ER where it only takes about 5 seconds. It is very different in real life. The surgeon placed the tube down her throat and the patient's gag reflex kicked in, causing her to vomit. Once she did that, the air way clogged with vomit, so the surgeon called for suction. The tube has to be placed between the 2 vocal cords so the airway has to be clear enough for the surgeon to know where to place the tube. The airway was cleared, the tube was placed, and the surgeon manually pumped oxygen. Instantly I saw the oxygen saturation jump from 64% to 99%. This revealed to me the miracle of medicine: if the patient had lived in another time, lack of oxygen would have immediately equaled death. But the combination of quick action, communication (via pager, etc), medical technology, and the genuine teamwork between health professionals, her life was saved. We still don't know why she had trouble breathing, but hopefully I'll find out when I go back to work on Sunday. Finally, when I returned home to Plano, I am happy to say that I voted. I am the first person in my family to vote, in fact I am the first to be eligible to do so. I made my voice heard, I broke my silence, and I performed my civic duty. May the best man win. God bless America.