Sunday, 23 March 2014

Death of a patient

During my training one of the surgeons I worked with told me that every surgeon has his own personal graveyard that he visits every night where he tours all his failures in his dreams.  It seemed like an overly dramatic bit of histrionics, and I have to admit I chuckled softly to myself at the time.  A few years later after I had finished my training, my graveyard started slowly filling, and I stopped laughing.  Fortunately DocBastard Memorial Gardens is small and new gravestones are rarely added, but it is definitely there, and I visit often.  Every tombstone I see is an opportunity to learn, to avoid making the same mistake twice.

Sadly, I added a new tombstone last night.

As certain people get older they may look like they are aging well, but underneath the surface there is skin that isn't as smooth and taut as it used to be, organs that aren't functioning as well.  My patient was no different - she was not too old, but she was definitely starting to show her age.  Sure she looked pretty good on the outside, but she had been getting slower and slower over the past few months.  She had been in her usual good state of health until last night, when she suddenly got sick.  It seemed that everything inside her had suddenly stopped working all at once.  I took one look at her and knew immediately that something was seriously wrong, and she needed immediate surgery.

A few minutes later I opened her up, and what greeted me was confusing at best, and horrifying at worst.  I've been inside many patients just like her, but somehow she was just different.  Nothing was where it should have been, but I still couldn't immediately identify what was making her shut down.  I started dissecting carefully, moving things around, taking things apart where I had to, removing other things that also obviously needed removing, trying to identify the problem.  It was very delicate work, and I knew that one false move could spell the end.

And then it happened.  One tiny movement that should have been more delicate than it was, wasn't.  One slight misstep was all it took, and just like that it was all over.  I suppose I could have tried to repair the damage, but it was obvious that even though the injury was tiny, it was also unfixable.  I dropped my head, cursed silently under my breath, and closed up without another word.  Nothing anyone could have said would have changed a damned thing.

I know I don't ever release patients' names, and I risk raising a few eyebrows doing this, but I'm going to make an exception in this case.  I hope this can serve as a cautionary tale to any other surgeons (or anyone else, for that matter) who decide to be less careful than they should be.

RIP, iPhone 5.  You will be forever in my personal graveyard.


  1. Well, that was unexpected.

  2. Hey Doc! Just because you're a surgeon doesn't mean you should "operate" on electronics. You should leave that to us experts. ;-)

  3. What phone you getting next doc?

  4. RIP lPhone5.
    Oh DocBastard my heart is still aching and I was getting worried about you. Nice one though.
    Best of luck with the new phone.

  5. Well, that deescalated (? New word) quickly...

    1. I believe that's called anticlimax.

      Don't strain yourself too hard trying to come up with new words...

    2. Say that to the people who came up with twerk and selfie. On my laptop, these are spelled incorrectly.

  6. Snap, Doc Bastard puts one over on us!

  7. There are so many reasons why Apple users should not try to repair their own devices that it's not even funny. Also, a bit early for April Fool's, but maybe that was what you were aiming for.

  8. Well played sir, well played indeed.

  9. What symptoms did the iPhone show? Any screen lacerations, broken bones, or just general slowness (is that a word?). I know how you feel. Last year, I lost my iPod Touch to a broken home button and narcolepsy, better known as frequent crashes. The sickness that caused the iPod to crash soon spread to my Nook. In addition, I have forgotten the password to the Nook, making it impossible for me to perform a bloatwarectomy that could possibly save him. I replaced the Nook with a Samsung Galaxy Note tablet. The sickness that had caused the first two to crash spread to the Samsung, forcing me to completely erase his memories twice. He is now alive and well; I am currently using him to type this story.

  10. I kept thinking, "Damn, he is confessing to killing a patient through a mistake he made. He is opening himself up to serious liability."

    And then...

  11. "Damnit Jim! I'm a doctor, not an Apple genius! " Haha.... couldn't be helped.

  12. Well played sir, well played.

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