I am still thinking about the overnight shift i did to kickstart the new year. Truth be told, i am really happy i did that shift. Initially, i was slightly hesitant in agreeing to work that shift given i have never worked alone before, and worse being the only doctor in an 80 bed hospital. I was really worried about encountering an incident that would destroy my self-confidence and break my spirit which would ultimately see me leave the profession permanently. But the other part of me was quite excited about the challenge, and i wanted to know how competent i was and if i could function in stressful situations.
I am glad a good outcome materialized from that night. My confidence has taken a boost and i now know that my first step into the medical working world as a junior doctor has been consolidated and i am ready to move on to the next level of learning and challenges. And it all came down to that laceration on someone’s sole.
It was the second proper suturing i had done since graduating from medical school, and one on a sober normal human being. My first, was having to suture a massively deep laceration on a drunkard’s forehead. He was so intoxicated he did not feel any pain at all, and really did not care about the aesthetic value. Besides, it was also my first time suturing on the foot and discovering how tough the sole can be and how fast my suture needle can be blunted. The thing that really decided how that night went (the factor that decide if i should call the consultant in to help) was the fact that quite a bit of the skin was torn off and i was actually having trouble closing the wound without the underlying fat tissue poking out.
All the while i was suturing this patient’s foot, the entire family was chatting around me and the nurses kept popping their heads in to see if i was done because believe it or not, there was yet another laceration waiting for me. And whilst i was internally debating how the hell i can close the wound without putting too much pressure on the sutures, this little voice in my head kept whispering that i should perhaps call the consultant for help.
In the end, what saved me was my 20 weeks of surgical rotation that i had slogged through. I bit the bullet and snipped the underlying pesky fat globules off. I was thankfully not adverse to snipping peoples’ fat off thanks to the barbaric actions of the surgeons i have witnessed. And funnily i was also hesitant because i wondered fleetingly if i would be causing additional pain to the patient. It really was illogical. After that i could close the wound properly and it finally met my expectations (which i also know can be quite high – sometimes what i regard as horrible is actually deemed “not bad” by my superiors), and the patient’s family was quite happy with the outcome.
So that was all good. And i guess the icing on the cake was this morning when i went to the ward and resumed my normal duties (i.e. ward rounds), the head nurse told me that whatever i did on my shift was pretty good as the consultant was apparently commending me and felt i was pretty competent.