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When you prick me, does it not draw blood? - Nobody wears a white coat any more... — LiveJournal
...a tribute to becoming a doctor.
When you prick me, does it not draw blood?
Uterine atony is a terrifying thing, O Best Beloved. Even in the few minutes it takes for pitocin and massage to do their job, the sight of blood - blood a brilliant carmine, brighter than Technicolour - arterial blood, is a wrenching sight. It pours from the vagina, spurts in small plumes out of the cervix, takes on a life beyond life. It drapes and paints and covers - it does not hue. Blood pools, splashes, drenches, sprays. It gushes. And as it gushes, it evokes deep within me a response so visceral that I can barely control it: there is so much blood, it must be time to panic.
The man sitting on a stool in front of me, in Impressionist blue adorned with a spattering of red, only the black of the skin between his mask and his hat living tissue - covered by a face shield; the rest is paper gown and latex glove and boot covers to the knees - he does not panic. He is calm, voice a steady reassurance. "Pitocin wide open. Give me some fundal massage." Eyes flicker to the patient's face. "You're fine. You're just bleeding more than I like. We have to make your uterus clamp down." And clamp down it does. The flow of blood stops, leaving curtains to clot in strings, wiped away by moistened rags, its final rivulets stemmed with quick swipes of a needle, catgut or dissolvable suture, knots tied with an elegant two-handed throw.

Birth is not a pretty thing, O Best Beloved. Babies come out covered in vernix and looking like someone's rolled them in semi-melted butter; they are bloody and wet and wriggling and terribly difficult to hold on to. We had several patients with meconium today; thick green fluid roiling out of the uterus, staining baby and placenta and cord and turning blood to a sickly mud-coloured goo. Patients bleed, red, bright, under brilliant lights that pick out the undertones. This, O Best Beloved, is a red that defines red. I have never seen a colour that is so completely the essence of its description, and only the blood of birth is that living, defining hue. We deliver babies through push after push, skin splitting at times, wiping fecal matter away to keep the field clean, the slow crowning appearance making them cone-headed and bizarrely malformed at first glance.

Today I unslung an umbilical cord from a baby's shoulder where it was stretched bandolier-tight, a tiny guerrilla just hatched from its womb. I made my first unaided laceration repair and tied with a two-handed throw that may not have been elegant but at least it was not too clumsy. I scooped meconium-stained placenta into a bucket; I pinned down a squalling infant and sliced off its foreskin with a scalpel - that makes three, and only a few more that need to be supervised. I broke out the ultrasound machine and missed lecture because of it, but the patients come first. I am the doctor on call. I broke it out again to do a limited ultrasound: head-spine-hand-leg-your baby's waving at you! and a woman went away reassured.

Today has been bloody and full of excrement, both babies' and mothers' and the usual excrement piled high in any institution. But I have knee waders, and that is good. It is 2:25 AM. I am hoping for half an hour of sleep. Perhaps I should go find it.

Tags: ,
now feeling:: excited enthusiastic

7 whispers echo . o O ( ... ) O o . whisper a word
reynardo From: reynardo Date: July 12th, 2005 07:54 am (UTC) (etched in stone)
You can understand from that why it is that mothers died in childbirth. And birth is messy. And I can tell you that from the other side, you start off rather self conscious (oooh - all those people looking at my private bits!!!! but by the end of it you don't give a darn - it's just get this thing out of me ooowwwwww!!!!!.

Mind you, when quatranoctal was born, the dialogue was a bit like this:

( M = Me - 19 years old and rather naive, to L = labour ward nurse)

M: Who are those?
L: The nurses who will assist your doctor.
M: And what about them?
L: They're the doctors in training who will be learning how to assist a birth.
M: *pointing to side of room* And them?
L: They're the trainee Paediatricians who will look after your baby when it's born.
M: *pointing upwards* So what about them?
L: Oh. They're the window cleaners. I think we can close those blinds, don't you?
erichowens From: erichowens Date: July 12th, 2005 10:22 am (UTC) (etched in stone)
That sounds very laborious and intense. It is wonderful you're able to withstand such horrid displays of feces and blood and pain, things we're instinctively wary of, in order to accomplish your job and maintain such high levels of respect for not only helping people, but for the institution of medicine itself. It is this kind of noble dedication and spirit that is the crux of the goodness of the human condition! Bravo.
daimones From: daimones Date: July 12th, 2005 11:37 am (UTC) (etched in stone)
Carmine and Scarlet and all the colors of the rainbow.

Leave it to you, oh worker of magic, to use colors so.

Thank you.
kesil From: kesil Date: July 12th, 2005 11:30 pm (UTC) (etched in stone)
actually, I saw a surgeon today who walks around wearing knee waders. It was awesome.

As for the deliveries, scary. Maybe med/peds after all.
daxayl From: daxayl Date: July 13th, 2005 05:45 pm (UTC) (etched in stone)

Of all that....

I'm sure you can guess the part that bothered me the most....was the part where you sliced into their member and removed a piece of flesh from the poor screaming helpless baby! *snugglez* Mothers just don't understand the fun they are depriving their children of...or the pain they are putting them through. Sometimes....I wish I still had my skin.
rimrunner From: rimrunner Date: July 13th, 2005 08:13 pm (UTC) (etched in stone)
In Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal About the Mind, George Lakoff points out that while all human beings have about the same ability to distinguish between hues, the first one to get a name beyond light (white) or dark (black) is typically red.
pwwka From: pwwka Date: July 14th, 2005 01:43 am (UTC) (etched in stone)
Tick tick tick...


Boy, you sure know how to stop a gal's biological clock. Let's do lunch. >:P
7 whispers echo . o O ( ... ) O o . whisper a word