Thursday, May 01, 2008
Yesterday I turned the big 3-0. I think it is safe to say that a sure sign that one is getting on in years is the feeling of being younger than your actual age.
The morning I spent sleeping in (there were snow flurries!). Although I had the day off, I went in to work in the afternoon because we were having pig lab. Pig lab, like cadaver lab, involves performing as many surgical procedures as possible in order to help residents gain hands-on experience on rare procedures, so that in the event we do have to perform them on patients, we will at least have some exposure to the procedure rather than learning on a live patient.
The pigs are heavily anesthetized and then euthanized towards the end of the lab. We only do the lab a couple of times a year, and there are only a few animals available for the resident class to work on together, so it was too important of an opportunity to miss.
I am certain that some people would be horrified by this type of learning. However, doing a thoracotomy on a living animal is completely different than on a cadaver. There's no substitute for working with real blood vessels and beating hearts. At our program, we utilize mannequins and simulate different scenarios, but again, it's nothing like the visceral experience of a real patient.
Yesterday was our second session at the pig lab. As luck would have it, just a few days prior, a cricothyrotomy was performed in the department on a difficult airway patient. While I am sure that the situation was very stressful, I can't imagine the resident having had to perform it without having had the lab training first. And I am certain that the patient and their family are glad that they weren't on-the-job training! Although animal labs can certainly make you squeamish, I think that our program does a good job about being as humane as possible and maximizing the learning opportunities from each lab animal, while minimizing the number of deaths.
After lab, I met Army Guy for a nice dinner. Throughout the day, I caught up with friends and family via email/phone. It was maybe not the most traditional of birthdays, but still a good one.