Last week I told you the first part of a story in which one of my classmates had an epileptic seizure as we passed the most difficult and important test of our college career.
An ambulance was called and paramedics arrived to tie her to a stretcher and take her to hospital. But we were on several floors in a building old enough that we didn’t have a full-size elevator. There was only a small freight elevator.
My classmate was a big guy. So carrying him up the stairs was not a reasonable option. However, the stretcher did not fit into the freight elevator. So, after some discussion, the paramedics stood the stretcher up and lowered him that way.
Meanwhile, my classmate was starting to wake up, acting dazed and confused, and at times, a little combative. But no one else was injured and he was taken to the local hospital for evaluation and treatment.
The whole event felt like the circus had suddenly arrived in town and a spooky clown act had interrupted one of the most stressful tests I’d ever taken.
But I suddenly realized that I was still not done with the Chemistry Comps written test. So, I asked my favorite teacher, “After everything that’s happened here, do I still have to finish the test now?” “
He replied, “Yes, but you can take all the time you need. “
It took a long time to complete and managed to graduate with honors, as did my classmate.
It turned out that he had a history of seizures which had been well controlled with medication until then. While studying for Comps, he didn’t want to take the time to go to the pharmacy and had run out of his meds several days before we sat down to take the exam.
While I can’t remember a single question that was on this test, I will never forget the whining sound coming from across the table and the surreal events that followed.
Here’s another story:
During a family medicine residency as well as in the third and fourth years of medical school, there is a lot of ‘learning by doing’ rather than attending classes and taking tests. . These years are called clinical training years because real patients are involved in real disorders and treatments.
There were many days during this period of my life that I met dozens of new people; some of them will stay in my memory now and forever.
Although this story started earlier, I will start with an early morning in my private practice life, as I woke up to the morning radio show “Charley and Tony”. In particular, it was Halloween, and they were asking listeners for scary but true stories, the prize being “a chainsaw to terrorize your neighborhood”.
After listening to a few rather lame stories, I called and told them this story.
When I was in the general surgery ward with a very experienced and talented surgeon, we were rushed to the emergency room to see a little boy.
His parents told us that they were in a cemetery for the burial of a loved one and that the patient was playing among the gravestones when one of the stones fell on him, causing him severe abdominal pain.
The child looked pale and in great distress with low blood pressure and a tense abdomen. So, he received the usual shock treatment of IV fluids and O-negative blood was ordered as he was rushed to the operating room.
The gravestone had slashed his spleen and he was bleeding to death in front of our eyes. But the surgeon was calm and very skillful throughout the heart-wrenching procedure that left the boy with his spleen losing his life.
When the patient was finally stable enough to wake up and go to the recovery room, I went with the surgeon to see the grateful family with the good news that their boy would survive.
This was where other family members had also arrived to tell us that the gravestone they had removed from the boy was that of a boy of the same age who had died on the same date several years earlier. They were concerned that this child’s ghost might have pushed a stone at our patient in an attempt to recruit a playmate.
When I told this story to Charley and Tony, I won the chainsaw, which I used for many years.
Although I no longer have the chainsaw, I still have “The Chainsaw Story” and the shivers down my spine that I still get when I tell it.
Thanks for reading my stories. I will come back to a medical topic next week.