Sunday, April 1, 2007

one of the many reasons i couldn't do rich's job

rich's job involves dealing with patients who, on the large part, have very bad luck: failed suicides who try and shoot themselves in the head but instead end up losing their eyes or part of their orbits, car accident victims with massive trauma, domestic violence victims with broken orbits, people who have bad cancers that cause them to lose their eye(s) or orbit(s), kids attacked by dogs, etc. surgical skills aside, he is psychologically uniquely qualified for his line of work--he is able to compartmentalize his work into "things i do for a living" and just do them and move on. he really doesn't bring his work home, so to speak (of course he spends every minute of his free time working, so maybe he is and i just am not talking to him enough--that's probably another story). i would be consumed by these patients and would worry about them incessantly, hence one of the many reasons i could not do rich's job. that and i don't have nearly the brain for it that he does (my brain does other things instead).

conversely, many of his patients are just older and have developed droopy lids that he needs to lift so they can see. and when he is on call here (unlike other places) things are pretty routine--lid lacerations (which can usually wait), car accidents or other gross trauma (in which they have to wait and see if the patient lives before he does anything) and the like. last night he had an incident with a garden-variety lid laceration patient that made glaringly clear to me why i could not do what he does.

rich went in last night to check on an inpatient, and he figured he would take care of a lid laceration while he was out. the hospital that he had to see the inpatient at was close to his brand spankin' new clinic (like they have been in there for 2 or 3 weeks max) so he had the lid laceration guy meet him there. he left the house, was gone for about 3 hours and came home as usual. he got changed out of his scrubs, made himself dinner (bad wife), ate it, all very calmly and normally, and afterwards said, "i went in to see the lid laceration guy and he's sitting in the room, then he said he felt nauseated, then he passed out. then he stopped breathing for a while. his wife was freaking out." and i'm like "OH MY GOD--IS HE DEAD?" (because with rich, you have to ask these questions.) and rich said no he didn't die, but he (rich) realized he was in this big, beautiful, eyes-only clinic and he had no idea where anything was or if it was even there--like a defibrillator, whatever. he has only seen his clinic area and that is it. i have to believe he had momentary interior panic, but then he ran around and found someone's fruit juice in a refrigerator. luckily, and i mean very luckily, the guy turned out to be real hypoglycemic and he woke up long enough to drink some juice. and rich even went on to fix his lid laceration. holy shit.

and this is one of the many reasons i could not do what rich does.

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