Ok, I'll apologize in advance - there will be no stupid stories today and no stupid patients. Today is all about great saves. I'll start by saying that 95% of all my trauma patients do not end up needing surgery by me. They may need orthopaedic surgery, hand surgery, plastic surgery, etc. But the vast majority do not have life threatening injuries. Those that do often do poorly, but every now and then I have what I consider a good save - someone who may well have died if not for my intervention. I'm not trying to pat myself on the back...ok, maybe I am a little.
Last night, I got two trauma patients at once - a woman who had T-boned another car, and the driver of the other car as well. Neither was seriously injured. The husband of the first woman was sitting in the back seat during the accident, but he wasn't brought in as a trauma patient - he walked in and started complaining of some chest pain. He was immediately upgraded to a trauma, and a CT scan of his chest and abdomen showed a fracture of his sternum (breast bone) as well as some blood in his abdomen and evidence of active arterial bleeding from the mesentery (the blood supply to the bowel). He was initially stable, but his blood pressure began to drop even though I transfused 4 units of blood. I took him to the operating room where I found a small bowel laceration and about 5 liters of blood in his abdomen due to two large lacerations of the mesentery with active arterial bleeding. I got the bleeding under control, repaired the mesentery, and repaired the small bowel laceration, all in under an hour.
This morning he is awake, alert, his vital signs are all completely normal, and his blood counts are also normal and stable.
My best save is from about 3 years ago - a young woman was shot in the abdomen by her ex-boyfriend while she was holding her two-year old daughter. Her parents were also both shot, but they were ok. I took her to the operating room where I repaired her diaphragm, repaired her liver, repaired two holes in her stomach, removed the tail of her pancreas, and removed her left kidney. She essentially walked out of the hospital about two weeks later. I've seen her in my office several times over the past 3 years, and she's doing great - she's remarried and back to work full-time.
THIS is why I do trauma. It isn't to take care of the idiot drunk driver who puts everyone around him at risk or the criminal who gets shot in a shootout with police. It's to take care of these innocent victims and get them back to their normal lives. THAT'S what makes it all worth it.