- Got kitted out in scrubs, rubber clogs, a hairnet and surgical mask-very exciting and took a few sneaky pictures!
- Headed on into the Minor Operations theatre and had a look around.
- There are two beds so two patients were brought in
- I stayed by one and his wound was uncovered. He was a 13-year-old boy with an infected and very painful looking sore on his upper thigh.
- They started injecting saline all around the wound to flush it out without using any anaesthetic, local or otherwise. The boy was shaking and crying in pain and all of a sudden my stomach didn't feel like it was where it should be, I had buckets of sweat running down my face and I had to run out. I collapsed against the wall outside for a few minutes before a confused nurse found me and took me for a sit down in the doctors' room.
- After cooling down, having a cold drink and resting for a good 20 minutes I headed back into the theatre.
- Queue next patient and his wound. It was on his foot and he was missing half a toe and the rest was messy and rotting. "Ok," I thought, breathing deeply, "this is gross but it's fine." They started to flush it with saline, the man cried out and once again my stomach turned. I didn't faint this time but I knew what was coming so I went to the doctors' room.
- I panicked. Sitting in the room, taking deep breaths, all I could think was "I'm never going to be a doctor. I'm definitely not going to be a surgeon like I was sure I wanted to be. I won't even be able to be any kind of doctor. I'll never make it through medical school if I get ill from this!" It was one of those moments where the future you had seen vanished. I felt like I'd wasted the last however-many years of my life trying to get into medical school only to realise now that it had been a waste.
I also emailed my amazing sister who reassured me that I was just human, every medical student goes through it, it doesn't by any means stop you from going through medical school etc. With her words and my good old determination, I went back into surgery the next afternoon.
This time it was the Major Operations theatre and they were doing hernia repairs. I was terrified. I edged up to the locally anaesthetised patient, peered cautiously at where the surgeons were operating and took a breath. I felt fine. No stomach turning, nothing. I stayed in that theatre for 2 hours and saw 2 hernia repairs. I was fascinated, I didn't want to leave. There is something very different about a surgery where the cutting is clean and intentional and a known procedure is being carried out. I loved it and have been in such a good mood ever since. I even popped back into Minors to see some wounds and, although it was still really gross, I managed to stay and watch the procedures (I didn't enjoy it half as much but I was so proud I did it).
Today I was back in and saw a couple of manipulations of dislocated joints, a removal of an cystic ovary in a 12 week pregnant lady and 2 cesaerean sections.
The ovarian cyst case was an emergency procedure and the surgeon had been on-call when he was summoned. The cyst was putting strain on the woman and if the ovary wasn't removed immediately she would definitely miscarry her 12-week-old feotus. When we first went in we were told by a nurse that the mysterious mass (actually the ovary that was swollen to the size of two fists) that had just been chopped out and dumped in front of us was a feotus from an extrauterine pregnancy. We were somewhat relieved when the surgeon told us that, no, it was just a necrosed cystic ovary.
The Caesereans were an incredible experience. I have never seen a real birth before and, although the delivery conditions in Sri Lanka are pretty horrible and Caesareans are not ideal in the first place, it was magical. I won't lie, a few tears escaped, seeing the miracle of new life being brought into the world. I am really looking forward to going to the Labour Ward next week!
So yes, a very testing week so far but right now I am feeling so happy, very proud of myself and fascinated by the things I have seen and experienced. I am learning so much about myself out here and finding out things that will stay with me for life!
On another note, last weekend I spent a day in Colombo (very nice and enjoyable) and then a morning at Bentota beach. On Sunday afternoon I went to a cafe in Panadura to say goodbye to Liv and Sophie, two fab volunteers from the UK who have headed off to continue their adventures! Jeanie and I have a new housemate, Lisa, from Holland. This weekend is a Poya Weekend (bank holiday on Monday due to full moon) so we have been busy planning! Speak soon!