Tuesday, August 30, 2005

No placenta is safe

Make sure you are sitting down, you are in the presence of something special. Uterine contractions quiver at the sound of my name. Heavily gravid women panting on the once-dry hospital sheets reach to touch the back of my coat for a chance to cease the abdominal gripping that occurs every two to three minutes. My mere presence sends fetuses scrambling back into the womb. I, DocAMAZING, am a human tocolytic. No babies breathe free air on MY watch.

At least, my tocolytic effects last just long enough for an intern to walk into Labor & Delivery, at which point babies launch from their respective uteruses into fumbling hands. I post about this special ability now because it took me nine days to even see a vaginal delivery.

At the beginning of my Sunday shift, two women were brought into L&D for induction. Paydirt! Two women, both at term, without complications, were coming to my floor to have their babies chemically encouraged to squeeze out into my gloved and gowned arms. It’s really as poetic as it sounds. To accentuate my dorky over-excitement at getting a chance to deliver, I donned a pair of paper boot covers that stayed on my feet for the rest of the afternoon. These paper boot covers are called “Personal Protective Gear” because they (A) protect your tennis shoe laces from bodily fluids and they (B) protect the soles of your shoes from dangerous “traction” with the floor. I've learned about both of these uses personally.

Unfortunately, medical students get demoted to the level of ‘dust ruffle’ the second a first-year resident enters the room. They have few responsibilities when they get to the residency program except for writing most of the patient histories, tying knots, and delivering babies. This makes them pretty unwieldy in a clinic or hospital setting, so when a chief resident finds one of these tasks for the intern she unloads it upon him in an attempt to keep him busy.

At this point the student’s job is to observe the first-year performing said tasks – a weighty task worthy of someone with six or more years of higher education. In this case, the intern arrived thirty minutes before both women delivered and I did my best 'keen observer' bit, natch.

So, like so many students who rotate with interns early in the educational year, I’ve learned that I’ve got to go where the interns are not.

But until then…

I am king of the placenta delivery. I OWN that placenta. After the baby is out, it is show time. Over the past six days I’ve learned to deftly massage the uterine fundus with my right hand while carefully maneuvering the umbilical cord with the left, all the while never ashing my cigarette. Once that fleshy bag ‘plop’s into the placenta bucket, I don’t even have to examine it to know that I didn’t leave a piece behind. (I NEVER leave a piece behind) In one swift move my gown is off and I strut out the door yelling, “THANK YOU FIVE-CENTRAL! I LOVE YOU! GOODNIGHT!” amidst thunderous applause.

Stay tuned as I aim for a fifth placenta!


Anonymous Diddy said...

And you, young padawan -- I'll be watching your career with great interest. Keep up with that placenta count. I check back hourly for updates.

10:29 PM, September 01, 2005


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