Tag Archives: Anatomy

Answering The Unasked Questions

Death sucks.

Yes, I realize that I am courting the obvious there, but I thought we needed to restate where we stand on the issue. Sure there are some occasions, some deaths, where the cessation of breathing is cause for celebration and I would not try to argue that.

For the most part, though, people who die don’t want to die.

Again, blindingly obvious, but stick with me. I do have a purpose to this.

See, we as civilians only have to deal with death on a fairly irregular basis. It’s not like we see it every day as part of our job. Because we, as civilians, are not doctors.

Shara Yurkiewicz is a fourth-year medical student at Harvard Medical School where she’s learning what it takes to become a physician. She’s taking classes about anatomy, about chemistry, about diagnosis of disease and all of that.

However, it’s what she’s going to learn outside of the classroom that will determine how good of a doctor she becomes. My wife, known to many as She Who Must Be Our Best Chance, also is a doctor. She’s an OB/GYN and she’s one of the best doctors I’ve ever met. Not only is she a dedicated physician, who continues her medical education every day, but she’s also got a tremendous stirrup-side manner. She connects with her patients as people, as sometimes friends.

And patients appreciate that. She didn’t learn that in a classroom, but it’s a big part of why she’s such a great doctor. Shara Yurkiewicz has plenty of time to work on her bedside manner, but, right now, she’s still learning some powerful lessons.

Thankfully, she shares a lot of those lessons with readers of her Scientific American blog “This May Hurt A Bit,” which follows her trials and tribulations as a medical student.

In a recent column, Ms. Yrukiewicz transcribes a conversation she Diversity can be accomplished with tiny, little steps and it's not all that hard, now, is it?had with a patient following his hip-fracture repair. It offers we civilians a gripping view inside the real-world learning medical students must go through to become effective doctors.

She thanks the patient for allowing her, a medical student, to watch as the surgeons worked to fix his hip. It’s a relatively bland conversation and I began to wonder why it was in her blog. Until we neared the middle and things — through no one’s fault — began to go downhill.

Very badly downhill.

I watched as they kept your eyes shut and handled your body just as gently as they had a few hours ago.

I listened to the final zip of the body bag. I don’t know who had the time to switch off the radio, but I’m glad they did.

I listened as the nurse asked God to rest your soul.

I watched you leave in a different kind of bed, to a different place. I’m not sure where.

You can learn a lot from watching. Thank you for letting me watch.

We fixed your hip, sir.

The operation was a success, but the patient died. It’s not an oxymoron, but a notice that physicians must understand the different values for success.

To become a good doctor, medical students need to understand that patients are not simply a presentation of diseases and symptoms. They are people, with lives and loves and desires all their own.

What Ms. Yrukiewicz doesn’t mention in her post is the next most important lesson a good doctor must learn: How to learn everything you can about what happened so it doesn’t happen again and then move on to the next patient, fully confident that the surgery will be a success and the patient will survive.

Her blog provides an interesting look into the world of student physicians. I’d recommend you dudes and dudettes go and give it a read. It’s always interesting to learn what the person on the other side of the white lab coat is thinking.


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The Guide: Turn and Face the Strange. . . Changes

by Barry and Richard

You’re going to undergo a lot of changes once you become a new father. One of the strangest and most disgusting will be those diapers.

Now, I’m not going to say that you’ll get used to wiping feces off a little butt and it won’t even bother you (because it will. No matter how many kids you have, you’ll never get used to finishing up a change and finding stray brown stains on certain parts of your anatomy.), but you will find you’re able to do it without getting too freaked out. Just take a little simple advice.

So you’ve got your little dude home from the hospital. More than likely, the first thing you’re going to have to do with him is change his diaper.

Relax. It’s going to be easy, provided you’re not an idiot.

Hi. I’m Richard, the idiot mentioned above. When Alyse and I brought home our oldest son for the first time, yes, we did have to change him. I volunteered because, well, I needed the brownie points. So, I had Rich on the changing table and Alyse stood next to me. I opened the old diaper and, of course, promptly dropped the clean diaper onto the floor. I asked her to hold Rich still so he didn’t fall off the changing table (more on that later) and then I bent down to pick up the diaper. Alyse was feeling the pain of her C-section and not really paying attention beyond making sure the little dude didn’t move. While I was down there picking up the clean diaper, I noticed the wall was wet and getting wetter. And, I noticed, my back was getting wet as well. I was genuinely puzzled about this. It was only when I stood up that I noticed the streaks on the wall start right next to the changing table and there’s a line of pee all the way across the changing table from the wall and ending at this freshly circumscribed penis. So, within five minutes of getting my first son home I got peed on. Yes, I took that as an omen of things to come.

The first thing you’ve got to do when you get home is to find the best place to change the little dude. We’d recommend doing it on the floor. If you change him on the floor then, even if he rolls away from you, there’s nowhere he can go that will hurt him.

This is vitally important. When you’re changing him anywhere but on the floor, you must never, never ever take your hand off him. Always keep at least one hand on the little dude’s chest, or holding one of his legs. Especially as he gets older, he will be more likely to start juking and jiving and might end up pitching off the table. But if you’ve got a good grip on him, he’s safe as houses.

But, no matter where you do change him, you’ll need to have a changing pad to put him on. You should get one that has not only ridges around the edges so it’s harder for a little dude to roll out, but also one that has a strap across the middle to hold him in. Even with all these precautions, you still need to make sure you’re always holding him with one hand.

Okay. So, you’ve found where you’re going to change the little dude. Now you have to get prepared. Do this before you start to change him. Get your wipes, your diapers and the — possibly needed — new set of clothes ready and stacked up next to him. That way you won’t be searching for anything during the middle of the job.

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