Being in traumatology department has been one of my life changing experiences. Not only because you develop your medical knowledge , you learn a lot and you acquire new medical practices but also because you do become tough on the emotional level. My very first patient had a breast cancer that had metastasized in the bone and other sites including the brain and the dorsal column. She was admitted to trauma department after she had fallen and had fractured both her arms. I couldn’t know her story without her medical file and her daughter’s info. She simply was mute . She was in too much pain. Every morning I tried to interpret the look on her face. Five days later, I went to check on her so as to do the post op exam. But what I saw terrified me. I will never forget the desperate look on her face, those alarming eyes, how she was silently urging God to help her through this even bigger hardship. She had a dyspnea and she died two days later in the intensive care unit. I still remember the look on her daughter’s face when I told her that her mother was in a critical condition. How tears rolled down her cheeks..IT was one of the most paralyzing feelings I have ever had. My other patients were all elderly women, women who have been laying in the same bed for weeks, women who lay on nurses or siblings in every single tiny detail. Women who look at you desperately every morning and ask you that famous question “ will it be my turn today”. You simply remain quite because they know that you would be lying when you respond with a cheerful “ yes maybe”.
My shifts were a combination of drama, laughter, frustration and continual stress. How are you going to act when you receive 3 or 4 trauma patients all at the same time on your very first shift ? How are you supposed to behave when you are continually facing shoutings, fights, pain? How are you supposed to act when you know that an open fracture should be immediately admitted to the OR but you feel helpless because the two emergency rooms were already full and doctors were already doing a superhuman effort.
Trauma department simply makes you stronger. It trains you and prevents you from breaking down in front of your patients. It teaches you how to keep calm during the storm , to keep your head above water.. It’s normal to have tears in your eyes when you see an irreparable damage of a beautiful teenager’s hand but you keep telling yourself “ not now , not now” . You urge yourself to think about it later , when you will be allowing yourself to cry . But At that very moment you had to keep it together. Being there for 6 weeks helps you sharpen your skills and mind. When that emergency door opens, you just hold your breath and brace for impact. You gather your strength to steel yourself for what you are about to face. You prepare yourself to see one of the ugliest images. Images and scenes that will be stuck in your mind for the rest of your life. Images that you will keep seeing before you fall asleep and while you are having dinner.When the color of blood will be still bright to you and when the sound of sirens will still make your heart race…Overtime I will forget the blood on the floor, the broken femur and the severed artery. They will blur with the other injuries I carry in my head. But I never forget faces. Faces that begged to tell them a miracle, to tell them their mother has been saved, to tell them there is still hope. Have you ever watched someone’s entire universe collapse in on itself. It explodes a part in front of you. Lives being desintegrated and scattered like dust in the wind, into a thousand pieces, a thousand directions.
I will always admire the perseverance of those very competent and hardworking residents, how they keep working until 5 and 6 am doing everything they can to save one more life. I will always keep in mind the hilarious laughter I had at 3 am in the hospital’s corridors with my boy friends, or while preparing observations with ones of the amazing residents. I will always keep in mind those crazy hilarious scenes of the operation room.I will never forget how the residents defended us and encouraged us. I will never ever forget how my Patients broke into a smile whenever they saw me, how their siblings saw in me the hope they have lost months ago, how they keep thanking me for keeping them updated, how they nearly shout of relief when I tell them that I’ll accompany their mother or father to the OR or that the operation went well.
The fact of regularly being in a hospital makes you wonder and thank God everyday for the gifts you take for granted. It teaches you a good deal about commitment and patience. At the end of the training, you realize how far you have become since those dark nights, since those dark crazy long tiring shifts.