It is amazing what the human body is capable of. I have been on my trauma rotation and now critical care. I have been able to follow some of my trauma patients through to the ICU, which has been so interesting to see.
Sometimes you get these absolute train wreck patients that you just know will not make it through the night. But somehow they do. And somehow they continue to improve and actually end up alright.
As an ICU nurse, you see the same patients day in and day out. You follow their progress and get to see how they improve (or don’t).
As an anesthesia provider, you only get to see the patient during their OR time. You may or may not get the chance to follow up with them.
For surgeries that go smoothly, no big deal. For surgeries or injuries that are life changing, it is sometimes sad to not know what happened after you passed the patient on to the next crew of healthcare providers.
We have 2 patients who suffered full body trauma injuries. I provided anesthesia for both of their cases, and now have had the opportunity to see them while on my ICU rotation.
1 was on her bicycle going too fast, hit a curb, fell and hit her head (no helmet). Suffered a massive brain bleed. The other was on his motorcycle and got hit by a truck.
Head to toe fractures and injured every body system possible. On the upside, he was wearing a helmet so no brain injuries. They are both still holding on and fighting, but will definitely never be the same.
In better news, we had a 20-something male who got into a car accident and tore his aorta. As you can imagine, his surgery was a bloody mess, very touch and go. However, he is doing great!
He actually is no longer requiring ICU care and was downgraded. If all goes well, he’ll be going home sometime next week.
We had a case this week of a middle-aged female who shot herself in the face with a .45 caliber. Her face looked like you think it would – filleted open from top to bottom and completely unrecognizable.
Based on the injuries, she had to be trached because there was no obvious airway to intubate. She is now 2 days post-op and it is amazing!
The surgery team are absolute miracle workers, and her face looks completely anatomically normal.
She is of course very swollen and bruised, but everything is where it should be with a small, neat incision down the middle. It is awe inspiring how good she looks. She is awake, alert, and communicating. She has a small brain bleed, but nothing that should impair her mentally.
Her husband and children came to visit her, and were clearly heartbroken. Granted you never can tell how things really are at home by one interaction.
It makes me wonder though, what made her do it? How did she get to be so unhappy and desperate that she felt that was the only way out? That killing herself was the only thing that could make it better. And is she going to be glad that she survived? Or is it just going to be another thing to add to her list for next time?
Yes the human body is amazing. But what we do to it is often not.