ProgressNotes: February 2003 Archives

Things I will never do

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I keep in the back of my mind somewhere a list of things that I will not ever do. Some things are obvious, like smoking a cigarette while siphoning gasoline (saw it yesterday) but others are less apparent.

I & D: Don't try this at home

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Earlier in the academic year I did an "I&D" (incision and drainage) of a heroin addict's buttock abscess. Addicts get abscesses when they inject heroin into muscle (which they do when they have trashed all their veins). The whole procedure was captured on film (for educational purposes) and it is available for viewing on the University of Washington's website here. It is not for the feint of heart, but I recommend you have a look before you consider injecting black tar heroin into your backside. I'm the one wearing the gloves (i.e. the one without the abscess).

Lucky to be alive

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Excellent news, sports fans--I have finally figured out how to dial-up with my laptop from the hotel I'm staying at. This is good news because it means I no longer have to walk in my off evenings over to the Harborview library. County hospitals do not tend to be in the best of neighborhoods, and while I am greatful to be staying so close by, the thought has occured to me that my life might be in danger making the trip between the hotel and the hospital after dark.

The unhomeable

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I'm starting to feel like I'm part of some kind of experiment. Snatched from the world of the living, I've been put into a bizarre biosphere with 48hr days--my only contact with the outside world is electronic. When I'm at work I find myself struggling to find the words to describe the passage of time. Talking to other residents I will frequently use the word "yesterday" when I mean "the last shift." I never know what day it is--for one thing that changes half-way through the shift and I am without the visual cues of night and day. When I go into the hospital it is light, when I come out it is light. When I ask a disoriented patient if they know what day it is, I am uniformly racking my brain to remember what the correct answer should be.

A blunt instrument

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If the television show "ER" were to take place in Seattle instead of Chicago, it would be set at Harborview Medical Center, the trauma center for the entire Northwest region, including Alaska. The Harborview ER is a blunt intrument, set up to handle major trauma (a subset of patients that occasionally includes "normal" people who live otherwise non-chaotic lives) as well as care for the area's malcontents: prisoners, drug addicts, street people.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the ProgressNotes category from February 2003.

ProgressNotes: October 2002 is the previous archive.

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