You can all go home now. I win at this contest. You think doing rectal exams on every incoming trauma or abdominal patient is bad? You think dripping all the agitated drunks is bad? A few weeks ago I was asked to do what I believe is the weirdest scut ever. (For the non-medical people out there… scut is basically the mindless errands medical students are often expected to perform. The “dirty work” while the “real doctors” save lives.)
It was a Saturday and I was on Trauma Call. Because it was close to exams (which are now over, and which I passed, in case you didn’t see it on Twitter!), another student and I had split the day. It was not my time to be on, and I was calmly studying when I was called and informed that my colleague had become sick and I was needed to assist in theater. (She owes me.)
The registrar was doing a laparoscopic repair of a traumatic diaphragmatic hernia, which I was kind of excited to see. But just as I finished scrubbing in, she managed to get the final stitch and no longer needed my assistance. But do you think I got sent home, or sent to the trauma unit to do some procedures? Oh, no.
“Seeing as you are here now, maybe you could do me a favour and chop up that leg.”
This was followed by some guffaws from the scrub nurse and the anaesthetist, both saying something to the effect like, “I can’t believe you’re making your student do that.”
Basically, her previous surgery had been a below-knee amputation, but being in a public hospital, she had been sent a biohazard container of the wrong size. The bigger ones were all out of stock. And now she wanted me to make the leg fit… it was going straight to the incinerator so it did not need to look pretty.
Granted, she did seem embarrassed for asking and kind of apologised. I say kind of because I still had to do it.
I’ll spare you the details of how the student nurse that assisted me almost took out the leg without gloves on, or how she slammed it down onto our makeshift operating table so hard that blood went flying everywhere (which had me go into near full-on anxiety given the IOD in my previous rotation).
You should know that the only time I’ve ever made an honest-to-God incision on a real person was an elliptical excision of a skin lesion in dermatology. And then there was that cadaver in dissection lab, but it was embalmed and near-bloodless. The leg may not really have been attached to a heart anymore, but it seemed pretty surgical-ish. And as we have established before, I am no surgeon. There was something mildly exciting about making that incision though. I’d wax poetic but it’s been too long and it’s past midnight.
Oh, did I mention that we do amputations with handheld saws, not electric ones? I knew this wasn’t going to work with my feeble upper arm strength so I ended up going through the ankle joint… it required some innovation and was pretty gruesome.
So. I definitely think that must surely be the weirdest scut. Although, if you have competing incidents, I’d love to hear them!