Wednesday, January 20, 2010

They Can't Make This Stuff Up...

            Yesterday I was able to finally take my new scrubs for a spin.  I walked to the Children’s Hospital alongside of a handful of doctors and nurses who live in my neighborhood feeling calm and collected.  I waltzed into the radiology department feeling sure that I could handle whatever types of patients my supervisor and I would be seeing that day.  Boy was I wrong!  It was a whirlwind of a day and I encountered things that I never imagined in a period of only 7 hours.  The Speech-Language Pathologists at Vanderbilt Children’s typically start their days off with video swallow studies.  These are basically like really incredible video x-rays that allow the SLPs to watch how a baby or child swallows in order to examine oral structures, determine problems, and recommend appropriate feeding options for the child and their family.  Our first three patients included a 15lb 3-year-old with prenatal cocaine exposure, a 5-month-old with suspected non-accidental head trauma with police investigation pending, and a preemie with congenital heart disease.  Needless to say, my head was spinning and I was frantically taking notes like an idiot in order to keep track of everything that was going on.  And despite the dire situations that these little ones were in, VCH is a pretty amazing place and it was clear that they were in great hands.

Vanderbilt Children's Hospital

           After finishing the swallow studies my supervisor and I headed upstairs to do “rounds” on the different critical care floors.  I like saying “rounds.”  Makes it seem like I am doing something really important…instead of scurrying around after my brilliant supervisor as she spouts off a million different acronyms and scientific terms that I jot down so I can Wikipedia them later and act like I knew them all along!  Fake it till you make it...isn’t that how the saying goes?! 
In the pediatric critical care wing our first stop was to check in on a 5-year-old who had been in a car accident and was thrown through the windshield just three days ago.  We were to do a cognitive evaluation with him to determine whether we could recommend to his neurologist that he be discharged.  Funny thing is, most normal 5-year-old boys don’t want to answer all of your questions, rattle off as many zoo animals as they can in a minute, or repeat a series of numbers backwards.  And this child was no exception.  After being poked and prodded by scary doctors all morning he was having none of it.  But after a little coxing and name-dropping some of my personal friends Dora, Thomas, and The Backyardigans he let me play a game with him, told me about his lizard, Spike, and even answered some of my supervisor’s questions.  After leaving this little man’s room I made a passing comment to my supervisor about how incredible it is to see the resilience of such young children.  To which she responded, “Yeah it’s amazing.  He’s looking much better than Dad who ended up with the turn signal lodged in his skull.”  Wait WHAT?!  The father ended up with the BLINKER lodged in his skull?!  Not ok.  Turns out Dad went in for surgery after the accident to repair his broken jaw and remove pieces of metal from his face and the surgeons discovered that the turn signal had broken off and pierced right through his head.  Guess ER really doesn’t make all this stuff up!  The rest of the day went relatively well and I got to see a bunch of interesting patients.  I managed to keep my breakfast down and only got on the wrong elevator twice.  Overall, I’d say not too shabby for the first day!  

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