I rounded out my surgery rotation with a slightly different perspective – that of worried mom in the waiting room. I definitely prefer being in the OR to the waiting room. At least then you are aware of everything that is going on. But I didn’t really have a choice this time.
My daughter Anika had to have a minor surgery to remove a skin tag in front of her ear. Initially I had hoped they could remove it in the office, but when we talked to the plastic surgeon she made it clear that Anika would need to have general anesthesia and go to the hospital for an outpatient procedure.
No big deal. I know. During my surgery rotation we did much more serious surgeries on a daily basis. It becomes so ordinary and so commonplace. But when it is happening to your child, it’s a different story.
It’s a strange experience to be a medical student and also the mother of the patient. I know I’m not an expert, but I obviously know what’s going on. I usually choose not to say that I’m in medical school. I don’t know why; I guess it just feels like a strange thing to say out of the blue. Plus, I enjoy getting the full patient experience. The second I say that I’m in medical school, the doctor changes how she talks. Sometimes that is nice, but sometimes they assume I know more than I do, so it just seems easier to pretend I’m a regular person.
And, of course, I spent the last 24 hours running through all the possible scenarios of things that could go wrong. One of the bad parts about being a medical student is that I know too much about side effects. I’m thinking what if she is allergic to one of the anesthesia medications or what if she gets malignant hyperthermia and dies?
Let’s just say I didn’t get much sleep last night. But everything went very well, and Anika is happy and healthy and doing fine. This whole experience was an important reminder for me that what seems ordinary and everyday to the doctor is definitely not ordinary and everyday for the patient.
Surgery has been a fun rotation. Definitely not for me, but I learned a lot this past month. Next week I start my Pediatrics rotation. I am looking forward to it, even though I know I don’t want to go into Peds. It will be fun to work with kids, since I haven’t really gotten to do much of that yet. I made it through a month of surgery without cutting off a finger, so I hope I can make it through a month of Peds without getting sick!