"Thank you for letting me watch."
April 18, 2014 8:49 AM   Subscribe

Post-operative Check: "It's okay that you don't remember me. My name is Shara, and I'm part of the surgical team. I'm checking to see how you're doing after your surgery. Do you know where you are right now?"

A short essay by Shara Yurkiewicz, a fourth-year student at Harvard Medical School whose blog at Scientific American is "This May Hurt a Bit: The intuitions, insights, and growing pains of a medical student"
posted by zarq (20 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
Beautiful writing.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:55 AM on April 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

Ah, should have read the tags. This was powerful, thanks.
posted by nevercalm at 9:04 AM on April 18, 2014

I've been in that situation (as the anesthesiologist, not the patient) and I found that both moving and chilling.

She is on track to be an excellent physician, if her writing is any indication.
posted by TedW at 9:07 AM on April 18, 2014 [4 favorites]

That hurt.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:26 AM on April 18, 2014

I was so glad to read that she was scared. She'll need to lose that, I guess, but I hope she retains an awareness of how scary everything is for those in her care. It will make her a better doctor, or at least, somebody I'd want as my doctor.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 9:27 AM on April 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

Good post.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 9:28 AM on April 18, 2014

"You're welcome. Sounds like they fucked up a bit in there. Hope you don't mind being named in a potential malpractice lawsuit. Now morphine or GTFO"
posted by Renoroc at 9:32 AM on April 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

wiping away the dust in my eyes
posted by kokaku at 9:37 AM on April 18, 2014

Who needs morphine when they're dead?
posted by ocherdraco at 9:37 AM on April 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

Who needs morphine when they're dead?

A question that bothers me as I get closer to finding out.
posted by maggieb at 10:11 AM on April 18, 2014 [7 favorites]

I read this earlier and it's a very emotive piece of writing, I think she's going to make a good doctor.
posted by arcticseal at 10:15 AM on April 18, 2014

Got through the first few sentences and couldn't stop hearing the rest of it in the voice of Fred Rogers.
posted by BurntHombre at 10:26 AM on April 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Lovely writing. Thanks for posting.
posted by vignettist at 10:30 AM on April 18, 2014

For someone (much younger) who went through a similar surgery (probably one long incision along the front hip to the groin), I found it interesting. I had some other broken bones, so my surgery was ~10 hours, but I would love to read a similar (yet happier ending) writeup of my op.

Do you know where you are right now?


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

It was a powerful piece, but I felt (unfairly) tricked.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:45 AM on April 18, 2014

An experience very much like this one significantly contributed to my decision to abandon the beginnings of a medical career in favor of law school. Decided that it was something I didn't want to get used to.
posted by valkyryn at 2:29 PM on April 18, 2014

This brings to mind a book I read a long time ago, Mortal Lessons. A very good read.
posted by Danf at 4:54 PM on April 18, 2014

Oh, that was beautiful. Thanks for sharing.
posted by undue influence at 10:34 PM on April 18, 2014

Lovely piece.I tell you, though, having read the stats then watched play out with startling accuracy with my grandmother, if you're old and break your hip, best get your affairs in order as the odds of more than six weeks are long, and six months are nearly impossible.
posted by smoke at 3:26 AM on April 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

God, I wish you were right, smoke. My grandfather broke his hip about 2 years ago, never managed to walk again, and then had a series of strokes that have led him to be entirely trapped in a non-functioning body, unable to talk (each stroke made it worse) or even move more than a cm but he has fought off so many illnesses since then -- cold after flu after cold. He has had MRSA for nearly a year now.
posted by jeather at 7:21 AM on April 19, 2014

Breaking a hip is a death sentence in the elderly. I think it's something like 20% of geriatric patients die within a year after having a broken hip. The rest face a severe decline in quality of life.
Open surgeries are fairly surreal. I have yet to find the a way of describing sensation of sticking one's glove hand into the pulsating viscera of another human being. Then pulling out a tumor or other diseased flesh. Fortunately I haven't seen anyone die on the table, but stuff has gone south afterward. Sometimes doing nothing is better than something. I wish that was presented as option more often with patients.
posted by roguewraith at 5:22 PM on April 19, 2014

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