May 30, 2011

Never fear, the crippled doctor is here

So I'm crashing with my mom for a while until the big move... She's a nurse, for context, which keeps my doctor god complex in check while allowing for all the other complexes to seep in.

As you know, I injured myself and have been transitioning from full crutches to one crutch to "f- it; I hate crutches" so I was hobbling around on a camwalker, which was hurting a bit, but not enough to put me back on a crutch. Since I was too cheap to justify buying a cane for myself, mom got me one.

OMG you guys, I'm House. It took four long years, and I didn't get a cane when I sprained my ankle because it's Grenada, but now I have one, and I already feel more curmudgeonly and like I can hit people on the subway in the shins with it. Not because they've done anything... just cuz.

Helps too.

Anyway, I was on my way to dinner in the city when my train refused to leave the station because while the people on public transportation have been awesome to me, the public transportation itself has been almost purposely screwing with me lately.

I thought this unscheduled delay was due to a fairly aggressive panhandler on the train being hunted by the conductor who was on his radio and going up and down the stairs leading off the platform, so I moved to the window to get a better gawking view and saw... horizontal legs. Sigh.

So I said to my mom "Someone's down" and we wandered off to see what we could do. Different homeless guy was seizing so my mom moved him onto his side and I knelt behind him to stabilize. Mom was like "I'm a nurse; she's a doctor" to the conductor and I considered making that wishy washy "sort of" hand motion. An off duty police officer kept people from stepping on us, because they were certainly trying to, while I tried to get a history from the dude who was coming around because during clinicals, I was told (re: yelled at) many times that a good history is the most important part of being a doctor. I overheard the conductor say into the radio "Yeah, we have a doctor as a good samaritan".

Two things. One, I outranked my mother sufficiently to bump her from the billing, despite that she's been a nurse of over 35 years, despite being a greenhorn that's entering a specialty that has less patient contact than a hospital janitor. Two, the whole 'good samaritan' thing that kept me feeling warm and fuzzy back when I could do CPR with impunity is now mildly terrifying since it can have different implications for doctors.

Another thing I learned is that medical conditions are far less terrifying when you've studied them and seen them before. Quick! What do you do when a man near you has a seizure??? Panic! Hold them down! Put something in their mouths! Call an exorcist!

Or roll them on their side and if they're really thrashing, try to keep their head from hitting anything solid. Wait. Hope they breathe shortly. They almost always do. Talk to them as they come out of it. Collect data. Ask about conditions, medications, and previous events. Make sure they're oriented to time place and location. Ask if they hit their head when they fell or if anything hurts. Standard stuff. Mostly it's just waiting around and trying to get bystanders not to step on your patient.

About that last thing... I've been concerned that New York has turned me into more of an asshole than I previously was, which is no small feat. I have, at times, seen someone down but that was surrounded by paramedics that looked like things were under control, and kept right on jogging. I have used my ipod as a defensive weapon since I got it.

However, I have yet to argue with a police officer (he put his badge around his neck) about train schedules while attempting to step over a large half conscious sick guy and two kneeling women. Oh, for and the next person that hassles me for not being more understanding about moms dragging strollers up the stairs, a couple lifted their stroller over this guy to avoid using the other stairwell, while the cop was yelling at them. Family bonding? "This, Jimmy, is how you ignore the homeless. They're not real people, and you must never let them divert you in your quest for killer Thai food. Try not to hit the lady that has the cane on your way over, because she may smack you in the shin with it like that mean man on television."


heyroth said...

Awesome job Ishie! I once had to "borrow"(read:steal) a wheelchair to get an old lady who apparently, fell during transport. Thank you GTA. :P

Anonymous said...

Way to go, Doc!

Anonymous said...

I am taking the boards in 4 weeks. Currently in panic mode. I have read your blog in detail on how to study for the beast - but I am still lost. I am doing Kaplan qbank and will start on UWORLD soon- I am essentially learning by doing questions. I am going so slow I am considering taking a semester off and studying for this. Would you please give me some advice if you come back to your blog in time? If you don't mind, can you also e-mail me at


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