Being a trauma surgeon is hard. I am constantly dealing with idiots who have usually done something very stupid that put them in my trauma bay. But I also multitask, performing life-saving surgery, talking to families and telling them their loved one has died, and babysitting drunk idiots, all while trying to keep Mrs. Bastard happy and trying to find time to see my little Mini Bastards (not their real names©) before they're fully grown. Mrs. Bastard may argue with me that her life is even more difficult, since she also works full time and is the one mainly responsible for trying to tame my little monsters, and to be honest, she has a fair point.
Before you think I'm just boo-hooing and being all melodramatic about the difficult life that I chose for myself, no this isn't a "Feel Sorry For Doc and Mrs. Bastard" post, so don't even think about
dumping any unwarranted and unwanted pity on us. Besides, this post isn't really
about me (or her) anyway.
After giving it much thought, though being a trauma surgeon and a trauma surgeon's wife may both be difficult, I've decided that being a trauma patient is the hardest job of all.
I understand that my trauma patients have it rough. They are whisked from their car or home or McDonald's (yes, really) in an ambulance at breakneck speed, sirens blaring, weaving through traffic, often with no recollection of what has transpired. They may regain consciousness en route without any clue how they got there. One minute they're enjoying a Big Mac and Coke (mmmm . . . Big Mac and Coke . . .), the next moment they wake up with a hard collar around their necks and a haematoma on their forehead, strapped to a hard backboard which prevents them from moving, and they're screaming down the road towards the hospital. Then once they get to me, all their clothes are cut off as they are stripped completely naked, IV's are shoved unceremoniously into their arms, and strangers start asking them questions while poking and prodding every square inch of their bodies.
Holy. Shit. This is what many people consider to be their ultimate nightmare, and rightfully so.
Yet, despite how difficult a time I know these people are having, I still expect a certain level of consideration and tact from my patients. However, many (ok, most) of my patients fail to live up to even these admittedly low standards.
So with that in mind, I'd like to propose a list, a 10 Commandments of Trauma if you will, of how you should (and shouldn't) act with your trauma surgeon.
Thou shalt not lie
This goes without saying. Or at least it should. Don't tell me you weren't driving when you were. Don't tell me you didn't smoke marijuana when I smell it on you. Just tell me the damned truth. I am not the police, I'm just trying to take care of you, so lying to me will avail you nothing.
Thou shalt not omit
If I ask you what medical problems you have, don't leave anything out. Do you have diabetes? Tell me. Are you on blood thinners? Tell me. Do you have untreated HIV or hepatitis C? Then FUCKING TELL ME before I am exposed to your infectious blood.
Thou shalt admit to alcohol consumption
This ties in to commandment #1, but somehow everyone who is wheeled in smelling like The Pub at 2AM claims to have only had two beers. I'm going to check your blood alcohol level anyway, so you may as well be honest.
Thou shalt not curse at me
I don't care how drunk you are, you will not swear like a sailor in my trauma bay. My nurses and assistants and I will speak to you respectfully, but we damn well demand that you do the same, asshole. I mean sir.
Thou shalt not argue with me about seatbelts and helmets
No, you are not safer by not wearing your seatbelt. This is a ridiculous argument with absolutely no veracity whatsoever, and the fact that anyone actually believes this horseshit boggles the mind. And helmets save lives and brains (just in case anyone making this argument actually has one), though if you actually are thinking about arguing this with me, then obviously the very existence
of your brain is up for debate. Not wearing a helmet or seatbelt is stupid and
indefensible. Full fucking stop.
Thou shalt not say 'no'
Don't misunderstand me - I'm not saying that you should blindly follow anything your trauma surgeons says. HOWEVER, if you find yourself in the care of a trauma surgeon and he (or she) tells you that you need immediate surgery, there is a very high likelihood that you will be dead soon. Listen carefully, then say 'yes'.
Thou shalt not say 'I don't know'
What medicines do you take? What do you mean 'I don't know'? What's that scar on your abdomen? Oh, it's from the last time you got shot'? Great, what did they do when they were in there? What do you mean 'I don't know'? It's your body - fucking KNOW IT. If you don't care, don't expect anyone else to.
Thou shalt not whine about needles
Unless you actually are a child, don't act like one. Yes, you're getting an IV. Yes, it will hurt for 2.13 seconds. Yes, I will give you morphine through that IV if you need it. No, I will not put you to sleep to suture that tiny laceration on your arm. And if you are covered with tattoos and tell me you're scared of needles, I will fucking slap you. Not really, but in my head I will fucking slap you.
Thou shalt learn something
Ok, you made a mistake and did something stupid. Fine, you're human just like the rest of us. But if this is the third time your horse has kicked you, maybe you need to learn more about horses (or get a new horse that isn't an asshole). And if this is your fifth time crashing your motorcycle, maybe you shouldn't be riding.
Thou shalt be appreciative
work long hours and spend the night in the hospital in a tiny call room away from our
spouses and children just so we can be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year (366 next year) to save you and your drunk ass. Fucking say
'Thank you', at least once.
I plan on printing these out in a very large font and posting them on
the door of my trauma bay, though I don't expect them to last long. I
have a feeling the administration wouldn't approve. To hell with it, I'm going to do it anyway.