A few weeks ago, during my urology service rotation, I was observing a surgery in the penis-balls area when the attending doctor, wanting to get the hell out of there, suggested I scrub in and help the resident finish up the suturing which would allow her to go home. I happily accepted the offer and scrubbed in, being the eager beaver fresh third year student that I am, because I thought I'd get a chance to finally do something. After two years of sitting in a dreary lecture hall, wasting away in a fit of extreme boredom, I was finally getting to where the action really happened. I sat down next to the resident, ready to throw my first stitches as a third year. Ready to close a wound. Ready to be all that I could be.
So it came as no surprised to me that my resident subsequently instructed me to hold up the patient's testicles for thirty minutes while he did some suturing.
I must say, I came home pretty disappointed, sad that I was relegated to holding activities, and even worse, what I thought was the worst kind of holding activitites.
Yet, in one of life's many lessons that I'm learning these days, I was to discover that even when it comes to mundane holding activities expected of a third year medical student, what I thought was the worst thing on Earth was actually only relative to subsequent holding events, and that when compared to my next holding activity it didn't even come close.
Fast forward two weeks, and I've moved on to the orthopedics service. One day, the attending decided that I should go with a resident to put a cast on a woman. I thought to myself, "Alright, this will be a good learning experience". We approached the room when I quickly discovered that beyond swimming in her own pool of fat, this 350+ lb. woman must have been sweating out of every gland of her massive body. And she had a serious attitude to boot.
You can imagine what happened next. While my resident was calmly and slowly applying the cast to this woman's gargantuan leg, I had the pleasure of holding up this 115 lb. leg for about twenty minutes, with my face about an inch away from her fungus-infected sweaty foot the entire time (so as to get out of the way of the resident in charge). My arms were literally quivering by the end (before you call me a pussy, keep in mind that it's one thing to do curls for a few reps, but it's something entirely different to hold that curl for twenty minutes while the weight is giving you 'tude and killing your brain cells with its smell). However, I knew that if I dropped her leg this patient would a) eat me and b) demand a re-casting, which would then require me to pass through her digestive system, emerge shit-stained out of her rectum, and resume my position as leg holder (I should add that the odor in the room would not be affected by my intestinal travel, seeing as it already smelled like shit).
What did I learn from this? There are no absolute truths in medicine. Ball-holding being the worst kind of holding is quickly superseded by orka-leg holding, which no doubt will quickly be superseded by some other awful experience I have to look forward too. What is today the absolute worst thing is only relative to the worst things that came before it and the even...uhh...worst-er things that will follow (Do you have a problem with "worst-er"? I thought not.).
To any pre-meds out there who might be reading this, please feel free to explain to me how, after reading shit like this, you still want to go to medical school. I'd love to hear it.