Sunday, August 3, 2008

weekend's over..

i can't believe how fast the weekends go by. five days of work followed by two days of weekend... not enough weekend, ever. it seems like it just started, and here i am on a sunday night at 10:30pm, thinking about bedtime.

i wanted to reflect a little bit on my job, while i'm thinking of it... most nights i am too tired when i come home to give it another thought.

i work in the OR of the largest hospital here in portland. i am an anesthesia tech 1, which means i am lowest on the totem pole in the anesthesia department in the OR. ....we have 20 operating rooms down there (we're on the basement level), and every day i would say we have about 3-5 scheduled cases in EACH OR room per day; plus the traumas that come in unscheduled (car accidents, etc etc).

i generally don't deal with patients, though i have been able to sit in on some amazing surgeries taking place. since i work for anesthesia, we don't do any of the cutting or fixing or stitching up.

as an anesthesia tech 1, i go in before and after each surgery in each room (we follow along on a computer screen which has little icons to show us at what stage each surgery is), i restock our Bluebell (which looks like this:

inside of each Bluebell in each room are the drugs necessary for surgery; knocking people out, paralyzing the patient, emergency drugs to reverse anything, anti-nauseau meds, etc etc. also, syringes for administering the drugs, airway tubes, oxygen masks, blades which look like this:

which help to insert the breathing tubes... so many things. each drawer is crammed packed with a certain number of each item. my job is to replenish anything that was used in each case. i've done a pretty good job learning where everything goes, what everything is, and memorizing the top drawer of drugs (which houses approx 50-75 vials).

i wipe down anything that may have been used by the anesthesiologist, keep his/her station clean (without disrupting anything they may have already set out), replace the suction tubing and container.... and i do it all in under 15 minutes each time. i have to do it in under 15 minutes, while working around the orderlies who are cleaning the room, the anesthesiologist who is preparing for his/her next case, and anyone else who may be in and out of the rooms. its usually a mad house.

it isn't glamorous, and sometimes its actually what most people would find gross (suction, mostly). but its very important. when i think about how many patients come in and out of those ORs every day, and how many of them i have helped to make more comfortable, more healthy, etc, its pretty great. being down on the totem pole, sometimes you don't realize how important the job actually is.. i'm supporting a major role in every surgery that goes on.

sometimes it can be intense being in the OR. everything is fast paced. there are people who are having major surgery done... there are tiny babies just days old getting open heart surgery, there are women having mastectomies, kidney transplants, you name it. sometimes the surgeries are a great success, and sometimes you get word of someone passing.

this happened on friday evening just shortly before i left; an older gentleman came in for a AAA: Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm. this is a normally treatable condition, and i'm not sure what the circumstances were in this case; but we all talked about it very briefly and continued on with our work. same when a tiny baby passed away last week.

my job is honestly not the most interesting at this stage (there are levels i will be able to graduate to eventually), but the ORs themselves are interesting. the doctors and residents are interesting. i get to wear scrubs and a scrub cap and no makeup and Crocs! (this is all so much different than my last job as a bridal consultant where looks were everything...)

it gets me in the door to the medical field, which feels like an accomplishment in itself. ....anyone who knows me remotely well will know my fascination with anatomy. my love of forensics. that one of my favorite things to read about is the body farm. i've got to sit in on a few difficult airways, where the dr's go down the patient's airways with a tiny skinny little camera scope to find the correct passage for the breathing tube. i got to sit in on one of those where the patient was still awake because he was allergic to the anesthesia gases that normally knock the patient out; this guy was awake but completely numbed, so he knew what was going on but couldn't feel a thing. totally cool.

i like my job.

i just wish the weekends were longer!!!!

oh, and i managed to get some sewing done, but i have some catching up to do at night this week.....big time!)

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