Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Common Cold

The common cold. It sounds so, well, common. It attacks us at the most inopportune moments (when is it ever opportune?). Doctors aren't supposed to get sick, but we do. And when we do, the "system" makes us feeling guilty for doing so. T has recently posted on this as well.

A few weeks ago I had a sore throat. No fever, just a sore throat and nasal congestion on and off. I continued working and didn't skip any calls. After a couple of weeks it went away, but I was very tired, my immune system all but depleted. I literally felt vulnerable. Then a few days later, it came back, with a vengeance. It was the virus to end all virus' (should that be viri?), the virus that ate Tel Aviv. In short, it attacked me without mercy, laying my upper respiratory tract to waste. Eyes teared, nose ran and throat felt as if it was hosting the Indy 500 for formula 1 virus'. I felt weak, muscles ached, head was spinning, I could barely move. This time I called in sick. The response was not as harsh as expected. "OK, take care of yourself and hope you feel better." (This was not the system I was used to!)

Even though the doctor (yes, when I'm sick, I go to the doctor), recommended a week off I went back after 3 days the minute I felt better. The truth is, that I should have taken all the sick leave as recommended.

I went back to the normally scheduled call schedule. I was on call in the delivery room. I felt fine, but something was missing. A certain sharpness, the usual sense of touch in the fingers was missing. And the women in labor were to pay the price. It was a very busy night, as usual. Many epidurals were requested. I had a bad run of dural punctures. (This is when the needle overshoots the epidural space, puncturing the dura mater, the tissue surrounding the spinal cord, causing a leak of cerebrospinal fluid). Usually it is recognized and is not dangerous, and the epidural catheter can usually be placed at another vertebral interspace. However, 24 hours later, because of the leak, the patient may experience a very severe headache. A dural puncture occurs every once in a while. But such a bad run made me feel pretty much worthless.

Towards the end of the call, when I was envisioning myself soaking in a hot bath, yet another epidural was requested. I didn't feel even at the bottom of my form at this point. By this time the entire staff of the delivery room was aware of the rapidly-fruitfully-multiplying-dural-punctures (tm). I asked the midwife if she really wanted me to do this one. Mindy the midwife, God bless her, said, "You're a great doctor. You'll do just fine." And so it was.

I was so grateful for her confidence in me that I would have kissed her feet.

3 comments:

rutimizrachi said...

The humility with which you remind us of the humanity of doctors, as well as the reminder to heed the doctor's recommendations, using yourself as the "Resusci-Anne" dummy, is a better teacher than all the lectures in the world. Hope you already had a refua shelaima... and the new mommies are all recovering nicely, too.

QuietusLeo said...

Thank you, I'm back at the top of my form. All the women had succesful deliveries with a functioning epidural. Two of the women required a "blood patch" for their persistent headache. I'll post what that is another time.

Pesky Settler said...

Ironically, I had quite the horrible epidural insertion experience last week when I gave birth to my son...

http://yeshasettler.blogspot.com/2009/04/try-try-again-x-12.html

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