Hospital Stories (all my hospital stories are composites of experiences I've had, not true stories about any one patient)
This weekend I'm working on call for the hospital. I knew there would be at least one surgery because Friday was so busy that one case had to be moved to Saturday. So I wasn't surprised to get the phone call to come in at 7am.
Our first patient was a man in his 70's with diabetes who had to have most of his right foot amputated.
Nothing like starting the weekend with amputated limbs.
His wife was with him and they seemed like an affectionate couple. As I was interviewing Mr. N I heard his wife say to the anesthesiologist something about using the specimen for her work. Turns out she trains dogs to find human remains in search and rescue missions. She's used placentas and other discarded human tissue to get the dogs used to decaying flesh. She said if a dog was unused to the smell of death it might freak at the odor and not be good at finding dead humans. So she wanted her husband's amputated foot for her dogs.
I tried to find a way to make that happen. (Not the first time a patient has wanted their amputated part, but in the past it was for ceremonial reasons) Not sure if she'll get the foot, it has to go to pathology first, she may not want it after that.
Our second patient had come into the hospital in the night with multiple abrasions and a badly fractured left foot following a motorcycle accident. 40 year old man, otherwise (seemingly) healthy (was it going to be foot day?).
When I delivered Mr. N back to his room after surgery (where his wife told me the story of when she brought her dogs to the hospital to find a kidnapped baby from labor and delivery years ago), I stopped by my second patient's room for an interview. The nurse taking care of him was a bit flustered at not having enough time for pre-op work, but as she assembled the chart she told me a bit about Mr. D's story.
He had been on his motorcycle trying to get to his girlfriend who was in our hospital ER because she had been raped and beaten, when he crashed. The girlfriend was released from the ER and was in the room with Mr. D. Oh, and their house had burned down last week. And he had been living with HIV for the last 14 years. As I reviewed his chart I saw that he was born on 09/11 (I'm not kidding).
I went into the room in a hurry (because that's what it's like in the OR, ALL THE TIME), but very conscious of the suffering these people were most likely feeling. I found my patient pretty dopey from the morphine he was getting for pain, but as his girlfriend walked in he greeted her with sweet affection. She sat down and tried to avert her bruised face from me as I introduced myself.
Eventually I got this man to surgery. On further investigation of his chart I saw laboratory evidence of cannabis, opioid and meth use (he also admitted to drinking last night). His body was covered in psoriasis lesions and his foot was badly mangled. The surgeon placed screws to hold it together, and wondered if the patient had enough support to undergo a long recovery, while couch surfing friend to friend (because of the house burning). The anesthesiologist wondered who really raped the girlfriend and if the house burned down because of a meth lab.
(all my hospital stories are composites of experiences I've had, not true stories about any 0ne patient)