Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Working too hard?

Imagine my suprise to get my schedule this month to find that I have 3 random vacation days this week. Apparently I'm not using my vacation fast enough. I got some Christmas shopping done, and put up some decorations.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Sexily dressed doctors may be dangerous

My resident in clinic showed me this article today from the ABC news web site
Sexily dressed doctors may be dangerous

First of all, it must be a slow news day. Second of all the first paragraph mentions Grey's anatomy. And we know that all hospitals are like the hospitals on TV.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A day

Been gone for a while, busy at work, vacation (wasted nothing too fun), then busy at work sorry there's been not much posting.

Put in a LVAD (left ventricular assist device) in a patient, which is an assist device to help the left side of the heart. Another patient had an RVAD which was a device to help the right side of the heart which we took out. Stressful day though... now doing some general cases while the overnight guy does a heart... what a way to make a living.

Monday, September 04, 2006

high glucose

my fasting glucose this am was high, 167 usually it's been running high but only in the one-teens to 120s 3 confounding factors.
1)I was up all night teeing up a heart transplant
2)I'm using a different glucometer, the one at work, rather than my usual at home
3)I had Chinese takeout for dinner.

Sadly i suspect It's number three.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Being a patient

So apparently I have diabetes. I went innocently enough to the doctor's office to ask about getting a sleep study for sleep apnea (which I probably have). So he's asking all these questions and running all these tests because it's the first time I've gone to the doctor's in years. My Hemoglobin A1c was through the roof. The hemoglobin A1c measures the average blood sugar over the last 120 days or so in your blood. Also I had a pretty high blood pressure in the office.

Now I'm checking my glucose (almost) every morning, supposed to be checking my blood pressure regularly so he can decide if I need an anti-hypertensive medication. My sleep study is scheduled, and I'm making calls to the insurance company to see if things are covered.

I guess I'm a set up for this. Even though I'm in my early 30s, I'm overweight, I eat poorly, diabetes and hypertension run in the family ... let me continue.

I don't think I'll like being a patient.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Black Cloud

(Sorry that postings have been so sparse. I'll fit in more time)

Some say that I have a black cloud. They're wrong. I have a storm cloud following me.

Let me clarify. In the medical profession, (I don't know if this concept exists in other fields) if you attract all the worst, bad, complicated cases, or when you're on call everyone and their mother has to come to the hospital, then you have a black cloud. It's possible to have a white cloud. And sometimes the white cloud cancels out the black cloud.

Anyway, I think the origin of my black cloud was my first day of residency. To sum it up... out of the 2 patients I took care of that day, half of them did not live to see the next day. Not that I was responsible, but it was still traumatic nonetheless. I had patients die the first two times I was on call as an attending physician.

Friday night, this continued. When I came in during the afternoon, here's a partial list of what was left to start -- 3 liver transplants, a heart transplant, and 2 endovascular thoracoabdomical aortic aneurysm repairs in addition to a myriad of other smaller cases. Also on the table was a facial reconstruction that had been going 8 hours so far, an open thoracoabominal aortic aneurysm repair, and liver resection that had lost six liters of blood.

Needless to say I was up all night. Two liver transplants had been finished (I was not responsible for this) the heart transplant also (not me as well, yay) The thoracoabdominal aneurysm finished after 15 hours of work, the facial reconstruction had been going 24 hours with no end in sight, and another ENT reconstruction case had not only finished, but had gone back to the OR 3 times in addition because things didn't look well. At least I was working with good residents and colleagues. It makes things a bit more manageable.

Saturday, July 08, 2006


Sorry it's been a while. I've been on vacation for three weeks... but it's not really a vacation because I've been studying for anesthesia boards (third time around.. yikes, wish me luck)

Anyway I was watching Discovery Health (flipping past really... I rarely WATCH it) and there was a cardiologist talking about a test they "rarely" do in the ER. A TEE. A TEE stands for TransEsophageal Echocardiogram. Break it down -- basically a picture of the heart using soundwaves with the probe being in the esophagus (your feeding tube) Then they have the patient talking about it and him being scared and they show a picture of a medical instrument and you're supposed to assume it's a TEE.


They show what is probably a gastroscope -- a camera used to see into your stomach. And I can guess why they used that instead. It's kinda like a TEE, almost the same shape, put down the same tube, but more melodramatic because it's got a light at the end of it and they pointed the light into the camera and it faded out to the next scene and ooooh.... aaaaahhhh....

Anyway NOT the same

Tip of gastroscope probe Tip of TEE probe
Images used without permission fromFujinon Singapore and St. Michaels Hospital respectively

Monday, June 12, 2006

Sixteen Kids?

Just got done watching a bit(most) of a show on Discovery Health called "On the road with 16 children." It's about a family vacation of a family with 16 children.... that's a lot of kids! It's interesting, but I'm uncertain of why it's on the "Health" channel.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Can't sleep

Ugh. I'm on overnight call in the hospital. As staff it's only about once an month or so... which I can't complain about. What I can complain about is how it screws up my sleep schedule. All the cases finished about an hour ago (Ugh... so much neuro) and now I have the oppurtunity to sleep and of course I am taking advantage of this by being -- completely awake! By the time I'm sleepy, I'll either be paged to start some non-emergent "emergency" case, or it'll be time to go home where I have to sleep on my own time. Yuk. Whatever... my sleep hygiene is horrible anyway.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Memorial day weekend

Of course I was on call memorial day weekend. Luckily because it was a long weekend and they split up the call between two people so I had to endure a mere 48 hours on call.

For the first part of it, I worked a full day on Friday... an old lady with three valves that needed to be replaced. Uncharacteristically I got to leave at a reasonable hour... There had been rumors abound about a case to go Saturday morning... in fact I had first heard about "the emergent case for Saturday" on Thursday... so i waited all day on Friday for the surgeons to book it so I could plan my day better for Saturday. All day long... no case booked... everyone from the surgeon's secretary to the surgical PA to the perfusionist had heard that the case was going Saturday "for sure" Still it hadn't been booked by the time I left. I guessed they would page me when it was booked so I could set my alarm etc... imagine my surprise when I woke up Sat morning to no pages. Yipee...

I got about halfway through the day and then decided I would go grocery shopping and buy some food to grill out... steaks, pasta salad, corn, the works... no sooner than I get home from the store. [beepity beep beep] I call the OR front desk. "Type A dissection to arrive at the hosiptal in 30 minutes, Dr. *namedeleted* wanted everyone in" Fine. A Type A dissection is a tear in the first part of the aorta after it leaves the heart. This is an emergency because in that portion of the aorta is the blood vessels that supply the heart itself, and the beginnings of the blood vessels to the head. If this rips further then the heart or brain (respectively) will have no blood supply. Steaks in the fridge... hop in the car. I get the the hospital... perfusion is there, the cardiac nurses are getting there. "Where's the patient?" asks the perfusionist, "Lets get the show on the road" I don't know I think they're being flown in. Okay. Quick call. "They say they're not flying anyone in, but I could be another helicopter service". I find out that the ER doesnt know about the patient, the cardiothoracic resident if fact is at home on the couch because he hadn't heard, and no one knows about the patient. Yikes...

So we're sitting around for 45 minutes waiting for the word, when the surgeon calls in to the room. "She's in the ER, we need to go now". I grab the resident and we head downstairs, I find a woman in her late 20s, slightly tearful. I go through my history with her quickly and explain what's going to happen, she's no longer slightly tearful, but very tearful now. I reassure her and we start wheeling her back.

*time warp*

12 hours later it's 6am and we've just finished her operation. Lots of bleeding, but she's doing fine, I'm exhausted from being up all night. Luckily I get to go home, the resident needs to start an "emergency LVAD that we heard about 2 days ago" Hopefully his staff will let him out for a nap.

I know I need one

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

death in the or

Somehow as morbidly ill someone is when you are in charge of their case, as little chance as they had of surviving.... you can't help but take it a little personal when they expire in the OR.

More later... maybe.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Administrative Professional's day

So today is Secretary's day... I mean administrative professionals day so I decided to go pick up some pastries and bagels at Panera for the office staff. Amazing how far $40 bucks worth of carbohydrates gets ya. Anyway, I went there last night and gave them my last name. This morning I went in and asked to pick up my order... "Here you are Dr. [name omitted]" Now I don't remember telling them I was a doctor. Usually I look pretty scrubby in the morning... today I had a shirt and tie on because of clinic. Maybe I look doctorly? maybe the only people ordering large amounts of pastries are doctors? anyway. weird.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

ugh... clinic

so you see. i'm an anesthesiologist. and I'm wearing a tie. how awful.

no really I don't mind that much, but I never expected to wearing a tie much in anesthiology... maybe a tie made out of scrub material (Hmm that might be funny)

anyway. i'm in pre-op anesthesia clinic. surgeons send us patients so we won't cancel them the day of surgery... so we look at the problems they've overlooked in favor of the surgical repair and we make sure they have nothing that will kill them.(oversimplification... sorry)

anyway for some strange reason the phone has been ringing off the hook today. Really it NEVER rings. Today it's so-and-so from Oto "Have you seen Mr. X yet?" or whoever from Urology "Does Mrs. Y need to come down and see you?"

Argh... I'm busy surfing the net. And seeing the five other patients you just sent down here.

I'll just let resident see them all... it's lunchtime isn't it?

Friday, March 10, 2006

Awareness followup

Sorry I haven't posted in a while, I've been busy at work. I got the following email from someone who came across this blog. I asked her if I could post it so others could share her experiences. Here it is edited (minimally) and posted with her permission.

Hi there,

I stumbled across your blog today and enjoyed reading your post about BIS monitors. I agree -- they DO NOT always work. I experienced awareness during anesthesia just last month, and my doctor was using the monitor.

I lost my baby during my pregnancy and needed a D&C. Unfortunately, my uterus was perforated during the D&C, and so the surgeon performed an emergency laparoscopy to repair the tear. I "woke up" feeling like I couldn't breathe, experiencing intense pain in my naval from the scope, and hearing parts of conversation in the OR around me. I was paralyzed, so I couldn't tell anyone what was happening. But I knew that if my belly was cut, something serious had gone wrong. I honestly thought that I was going to die. I eventually blacked out again for the remainder of the surgery, but have memories from pretty early after extubation (while still in the OR), and have much more recall of the recovery room than seems typical.

It had never occurred to me that something might go wrong with the anesthesia on top of everything else. (I figure that in the "Bizarro universe," my double has just won the lottery.) The only bright spot in this is that I ended up writing the anesthesiologist a letter describing what I experienced. He called me right away and said he was sorry, which was surprisingly helpful for me. He also said that when the perforation occurred, he'd had to quickly switch from using a mask to intubating me. From the details I described, he felt I woke up during that process. He said the BIS monitor lags real-time by at least a minute, and that while they are helpful, they obviously can't prevent all problems.

I do have a question for you: In future surgeries, how detailed does my description of what happend need to be to ensure I don't have awareness while under general anesthesia again? Any tips would be helpful.

My reply:

Sorry about your awful experience, and sorry about the loss of your child. From what I know, the experience you had was one that is typical of people that suffer recall. Generally an emergency happens and anesthetic techniques need to be changed in a hurry, or things are so tenuous, that the risk of recall is weighed against keeping a patient alive. Trauma situations and obstetric situations are classic. I'm glad you had a positive conversation about this with your anesthesiologist. Still must have been a traumatic experience.

As for future surgeries, I think the mention that you had awareness during a D&C converted to a general anesthetic for a laparoscopy, (Just the description you gave me) should be sufficient to avoid any problems. They will probably have you go through your experience so that they can be a better picture of what happened. Some may request a copy of the previous anesthesia record to see exactly what medications you received, but I'm guessing most won't.

I cannot of course promise that this won't ever happen again(you may be resistant to some of our medications) but I'm guessing the urgency of the situation was the main cause of your period of awareness.

Hopefully your future experiences will be more pleasant.

I hate to ask this, but would you mind terribly if I posted an edited redition of your experience on my blog, so that I can post the advice.

Good luck with everything. I'm happy to answer any other questions, sorry for my delay in reply.

Her response:

Hi again,

Thanks for the extra information. And yes, you can post my email(s) to your blog, in whatever edited version you want. I just request that you leave out my name.

The anesthesiologist for my surgery called me back again since I emailed you. He pulled my chart, and what he said matches up closely with what you surmised: Shortly after the lap began, my BP dropped. He administered ephedrine and lightened the anesthesia (propofol, I think he said?) to stabilize me. He believes this is when I initially became aware. He said that BIS readings remained in the 60s throughout the incident, which meant that I should have been out. I guess it just shows how hard it is to categorize levels of consciousness, even with a monitor. As a secondary
issue, he also wonders if I might metabolize Versed faster than normal, which would allow me to remember what happened.

It was a God-awful experience. I honestly thought I was dying, and you don't just immediately shrug off that sort of event afterwards. But, I don't really see how it could have been avoided. After doing some research and talking to both the surgeon and the anesthesiologist about what happened, I'm satisfied I got good care, despite my complications. So I am choosing to lump everything that happened to me -- the baby having trisomy 18 and dying, the uterine perf, and the anesthesia problems -- into the same category, which can be summed up as "sometimes you're lucky in life, and sometimes you are probability's bitch." I wish I'd been lucky.

Anyway, I'm hoping that this was a one-time bad event for me. For any planned surgeries, I'll follow your advice and explain my history as best I can.

Thanks again

This woman has had an awful experience, and has had the heart to share it with us. I think it illustrates that good communication between patients and physicians is of critical importance. It is especially important when "bad" things happen, though it should exist when things go well also.

Monday, February 20, 2006


Really i'm not ignoring you all. I've got some interesting stuff to post, but I just haven't had time to do it justice. It's coming!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

On call

It's not quite 5 am, it's been quiet tonight. I'm on in-house call and the ORs finished really early. No pages since 9:30p or so. Thought it was turning into a great night. Of course I couldn't sleep. I usually can't sleep well at the hospital, but tonight's particularly bad, not even tired. Anyway started an exploratory laparotomy... we'll see what comes of it. I think the resident's happy to be doing the case since the resident that shares the call room snores.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006


I've blogged about medical lyrics in rap before... it's pretty interesting actually how medical words are thrown around.

Heard on the radio yesterday:
Jamie Foxx featuring Ludacris -- Unpredictable (luda's verse)
I'll be your Tylenol just take me till you doze off

So Tylenol is acetaminophen whis is a mild analgesic(pain reliever) and an anti-pyretic (fever reducer). So while not actually a sedative... it can relieve your pain enough so you can sleep, or reduce your fever, so you're more comfortable and thus can sleep. I guess Luda's right still.

Monday, January 30, 2006

heart trouble follow up

negative heart cath.

This means the stents he got last year are still open. Doesn't really explain his minor chest pains. And we learned that I inherit my stubbornness from my dad

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Heart Trouble part Deux

So about a year ago when I started this blog, my father had just had a cath and seven stents... Tonight my mom called me and apparently a routine followup stress test was positive again. He's going in on Friday for another heart cath. Likely a restenosis of a stent from what my dad says. So I'm talking to him about he feels... and being the retired physician he is he notes that he only got a little chest pain when he exercised but was otherwise okay. I could have killed him. That's denial for you.

Anyway. Last year I was all about lifestyle change... exercise, diet modification, etc. Well i'm not exercising, though I do have an exercise machine, my diet is pretty much the same (off and on) we'll see what friday has to show.

Sunday, January 22, 2006


Lately I've gotten some questions from readers and I thought I'd take the chance to answer some of them. I've been rather delinquent.

Some questions from some one beginning premed studies...

1)Any opinions regarding DO vs MD training particularly as it applies to anesthesiology?

Hmmm... interesting question. I think both avenues are good approaches to medicine, and they don't differ as much as you would thing, allopathic and osteopathic classes are almost the same with a few exceptions. I think in general MD programs give you more choices when you are choosing a what type speciality you want to practice in. I've trained with DOs and done a fellowship with a DO and find so generalities applicable. I will say in particular reference to anethesiology is that it seems to be becoming more competitive as a residency. Thus we are seeing less DO physicians meet the rigorous requirements for interview selection in my facility, but those we do see are amazing candidates. So I would have to say that doing well in school and getting high board scores are the most important requirements.

2) What is your experience with physicians who were non-traditional students (i.e. older -- I am already 30), again with particular reference to anesthesiology?

First of all, I do suggest to all my friends who are considering medicine as a career to reconsider it. It is a tough road with long hours of work and study. It is physically as well as mentally taxing. There are better ways to earn money, influence, and/or respect. Saying all that, if you are one that really wants to be a medical professional, who am I to stop you? I do love my job, but the road to where I am now has been a rough one. I would however do it again.

Next, I don't think being a non-traditional/older student necessarily puts you ate any sort of disadvantage in being selected for a residency program. I think it provides an interesting perspective in the field of medicine. Being older, I think the physical demands of medical training may be more difficult. Also there is more likely to be a family involved. And that has needs of its own. All that is fine though, many people train in the medical field with large families. It just requires more juggling.

Just think though if you're considering anesthesiology at age 30 and start medical school in the next few years you may be 40 or older before even starting to have the opportunity to practice on your own. That time is valuable and it is quite a commitment. In reference to anesthesiology, there are plenty of older residents, some have completed all or a significant portion of another medical residency (anesthesia is a field that is highly switched into), some have just gotten a late start as you have. Also anesthesia is demanding, but may require less time commitment in residency some places, then say other residencies such as surgery (although there are wide spread work hour limitations)

Another question from an electrical engineer.
3) How accurate are the new monitors that are supposed to indicate depth of anesthesia in a patient?

That also is an interesting question. The device you're most likely referring to is the Bis monitor. It's gotten quite a lot of press lately. It's basically a transcutaneous monitor that picks up electric activity from the brain (EEG), performs a complicated "black box" calculation and spits out a number ranging from 100 (awake) to 0(No electrical activity). We do not use this device at our institution. There are several problems that I see. First of all there are plenty of other ways to measure consciousness clinically. The device and disposables are not inexpensive. Also what bothers me the most is that the calculations that are performed by the devices are a proprietary formula, and we are not privy to those aspects. I'm not sure how accurate thes e devices are, but regardless I'm not sure they're necessary. (just one man's opinion)

Picture taken without permission from Aspect Medical Systems, Inc. website

If I missed your question, let me know I'm trying to keep up.

Monday, January 16, 2006

IV starts

Bit of a strange couple of days for IV starts for me.

Two nights ago one of my roomies went on a bit of bender and thus couldn't keep any food or water down yesterday. I started an IV on her at home, instead of her going to the ER and waiting for hours and having the same thing done, except with a large bill.

Today near the end of the day one of my residents requested I put an IV in her because she wasn't feeling well and had some sort of flu bug... I was going to put in for her to go home early, but she was relieved by a late resident anyway. What a trooper.

Anyway, wonders that a couple liters of fluid will do to help with how you're feeling.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

More anniversary stats from the last year

Shortest time between posts: 3 minutes
Longest time between posts: 17 days

Sunday, January 08, 2006


Three days ago this blog turned one year old... It's been a slow year and a fast year at the same time.

I've finished a cardiothoracic anesthesiology fellowship. Started a full time job as a cardiothoracic anesthesiologist. Bought a house.

On the other hand... I am working today on a sunday, doing a semi-emergent (as in booked two days ago) coronary bypass. (well supervising a resident anyway). This after doing a Heartmate II and a heart transplant on Friday, two chest closures yesterday (see friday's cases). At least I have tomorrow off.

Some stats:
365 days.
72 posts.
Avg. 1 post every 5.07 days.
5006 vistors by counter since March 7, 2005 (when I started counting) some of those are me however.

I hope for many more years.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

cargo pants

heh. Wore cargo pants to clinic... realized no one can stop me.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Readily available

I'm trying to be a good anesthesia attending today... but failing. I flew back late last night from being out of town for the New Year. The anticipated late arrival after the weather delay and the walk through baggage and the shuttle bus to the parking lot and the drive home became the ridiculously late arrival. Got settled at home and slept for only an hour before coming in to work. Good thing I slept on the plane. I am working with 2 senior residents today. Both very good. Both rooms I'm supervising have long cases, so not much to do after getting started. Instead of teaching I've been hanging out in my office. Being "readily available" for crises from my chair.