Tuesday, November 08, 2011

My First Successful Surgery

"Surgeons must be very careful
When they take the knife!
Underneath their fine incisions
Stirs the Culprit - Life!"

Emily Dickinson

Two of them, as a matter of fact.

I marvel at the achievements of our species which allowed me to cut a large hole into the abdomen of a living, breathing human being today and pull her newborn child right out of her into this world - which isn't a very impressive feat on its own. The fact that she's expected to survive the whole ordeal and would probably be discharged from the hospital in a couple of days is the amazing part.

I understand that most hospitals in Malaysia do not expect their house officers to perform Caesarean sections but where I'm serving, it's a mandatory procedure. My maiden major surgery was supervised by the nicest, coolest, and most fetching Medical Officer in the department who, coincidentally, shares the same name with the Long-Suffering Girlfriend™. My patient was a 37-year-old Bidayuh lady with a baby on board that (we suspect) grew a little too chubby to safely ooze out of her vagina.

To prep for it, I watched a series of instructional videos on the internet. Yes, in a government hospital, it's possible that you may be operated upon by a first-time surgeon who just learned how to do it overnight through YouTube. What, did you think we grow full-fledged specialists from cloning vats?

Alright, alright, I had also assisted in more than a dozen of these operations - so I sort of knew what I was doing. Besides, my awesome boss was standing by, ever-ready to take over the enterprise if the gravid mother on the table exploded or something (more likely than you think). I've replayed the steps in my head so many times that I actually started having recurring dreams of performing C-sects. And not all of them ended in conflagrations and macerated, finger-chomping, zombie babies.

I entered via a Joel-Cohen incision, and was surprised by how little mental resistance I encountered towards slicing a live human being open with a scalpel. This is coming from a guy whose closest experience to butchery was taking a table knife to a slab of medium-rare steak. Then, I proceeded to enter her abdominal cavity in layers; digging through her fat, splitting her muscles and snipping through her peritoneum. After identifying the lower segment of her womb, I cautiously made a transverse incision, exposing the bulbous amniotic sac which popped in a warm gush of liquor amnii. Seizing it by its head and neck, I extricated the infant from the uterine cavity in short order, cut its cord, and deposited its bawling ass into the hands of a waiting nurse. Booyah!

As per the patient's request, we tied off her tubes so she can never conceive again. Finally, came the tedious task of sewing the huge gaping wound I've inflicted into the woman's middle layer by layer. She was fully awake the whole time, of course, since she was only under spinal anaesthesia.

Anyway, I did far better than I thought I would. From "skin-to-skin", the surgery took a little more than an hour - 73 minutes to be precise - which was about twice as long compared to a C-sect performed by a more experienced surgeon. The estimated blood loss was only about half a litre; well below concern. I was in a celebratory mood so I bought everyone pizza. It's little victories like this that make my job fun.

P.S. In case I've painted an immodest and overly-competent picture of myself, I must remind you that my MO was coolly and patiently walking me through it from start to finish. I was so afraid that she would suddenly decide that I suck at it and finish the operation herself - but she didn't. Phew.

In and out again,
k0k s3n w4i


fevrier said...

good job

Diyana said...


Zzzyun said...

that sounds awesome!

Hsu Jen said...

Congrats! Though I dont know how you still had the stomach for pizza afterwards.

When are you coming back to KL next? Haha.

Phoebs said...

oooh sounds fun :D

nis said...

where is my pizza?

k0k s3n w4i said...

beve: how you.

diyana: thanks!

Zzzyun: when are you going to start chopping people up yourself?

Hsu Jen: if we didn't, we would have all starved to death a long time ago. i don't expect to visit kl anytime soon (certainly not this year). oh, airasia left my housemate's check-in luggage back in semenanjung! what sort of compensation can he expect?

Phoebs: more fun than drilling teeth, i bet.

nis: your pizza is here, there and everywhere. it is one with the cosmos.

Hsu Jen said...

No idea. Best tell him to write in to http://www.airasia.com/my/en/faqdetailsform.html for more info. Did he buy their travel insurance?

Liz said...

Ooh, congrats! Everything went smoothly and you seem calm and quietly confident! That is reallyyyyy impressive :D

k0k s3n w4i said...

Hsu Jen: probably. anyway, they found his luggage. but he had to drive back to the airport to pick them up (which he didn't mind terribly). i'd have thrown a fuss to see what free stuff i can get :P

Liz: it only seem smooth because i left out all the parts where my supervisor gently nudged me away from doing a lot potentially catastrophic things ;)

Zzzyun said...

haha i am graduating end of this year (fingers crossed) so maybe next year? But i highly doubt they will allow interns to do the whole surgery themselves in australia. :P