Sunday, August 9, 2009

Neurosurgery for Dummies

Right now I'm on my elective rotation and for some unknown reason I "elected" to do neurosugery. Last week was my first of 4 weeks there. My days consist of waking up at 3am to leave the house by 3:45. I see my patients before rounding with the residents at 5:30. Then the team of 10 rounds with the attending before heading off to see pre-op patients. The rest of the morning is usually spent in the OR watching various kinds of surgeries. So far I've seen an aneurysm repair, 2 brain tumor resections, 2 herniated disc excisions, a cervical spine fusion, and the insertion of an intrathecal (inside the sac surrounding the spinal cord) pump for medications. The afternoons are either spent in the OR or on the floor tending to patients and preparing them for discharge if possible. We then round one more time, finish up what's left to be ordered/done for patients and then go home around 6pm. Needless to say, the days are long and extremely tiring. My feet, knees, and back usually ache and my mind is numb. I get a couple hours to have dinner and spend time with Corey and Lacey before its off to bed (hopefully by 9 or 9:30).

Things I've learned so far: it's FREEZING in the OR (especially on the microscopic surgeries where the overhead lights are off), I can function before the sun comes up with enough caffiene, my 10 hour shifts as a scribe were a piece of cake, brain surgery is kinda violent, I'll never get used to the smell of burning flesh, the brain bleeds a lot when being cut into, and I know nothing about neuroanatomy. I've also learned how to remove central lines, staples, and JP drains (so now I can properly do the scut work for the residents).

It's exhausting and frustrating at times, but I'm already 1/4th of the way through and I'm determined to make the most of it. Now I must go finish reading the 70 page manual they gave us chock-full on everything a student needs to know about neurosurgery...


  1. yup burning flesh, I think I will wait to read your blog posts until AFTER morning sickness is gone! :o)

  2. Interesting reading, but glad I'm only reading about it.