What doctors don’t want you to know… (Day -200)

What doctors do not want you to know

Growing up I always believed in doctors knowing everything. Actually it was more like doctors were not human being only doctors and living in the hospital and that was all they did. For me this applied the same to dentists. One time going to the dentist for a morning appointment, and the dentist arriving in their street clothes looking normal actually made me nervous about my treatment that day.

How could someone that looked so normal carry out treatment on my teeth?

I was thinking about this today whilst I was visiting the doctor at the human hospital for my rabies booster.

By thinking of doctors like this it is possible to remove the fear from the visit as doctors knowing everything would prevent anything going wrong. Actually I started to realise that it wasn’t just thinking of them as doctors, we start to elevate them to gods and miracle workers. We need that hope to protect us from the fear of what is going to happen as when we go to hospital we are vulnerable and not in control.

We need that doctor to be in control – and to do this we need to elevate them to a superhuman status. Where we will be safe under their care, where they will not make a mistake, where they will fix any problem.  We need to do this to trust them with our life, especially when it comes to surgery where we are absolutely helpless.

I then realised the same thing happened when I put on my scrubs and step into clinic. Especially when things go wrong – people look at you and expect you to have an answer.

Even when you don’t have an answer you have the responsibility of finding one. Sometimes it is logic, sometimes it is common sense, a lot of the time it is having support there from others and then sometimes it’s a combination of all three.

I remember the first time I was in this position was a couple of years ago. It was lunchtime and I was alone in recovery with a patient that had just come out of surgery, and there was the patient from the previous surgery whose owner was sitting with them whilst they recovered. The next thing I know the owner is saying something (I didn’t understand Slovak back then) however looking at the dog I see the eyes are flicking side to side.

I’ve no clue why however the first thing I do is check the breathing and heart. I see there are no muscle tremors. I’d read about nystagmus which is the random movement of eyes side to side, I thought this may be nystagmus, however I did not know why this dog had just started showing this. However I didn’t think that the dog was going die in the next few moments and my recovering anaesthesia patient was stable so I decided I had time to run to the staff room to get a doctor.

It was only a few minutes, however it felt like eternity. I had no clue what I was dealing with, I was not sure if it was even nystagmus. It turned out that it was positional nystagmus from the anaesthesia drugs that only happened because the dog was laid on its side. Knowing that my book knowledge was a little bit correct didn’t take away the feeling that I had got really lucky.

It was the first time that I felt like an imposter. Since then I’ve learnt that it is not just me that feels like this. Apparently it is a very common feeling that doesn’t completely go. No matter how much you learn, there is always more to keep learning. The really scary thing here is when you have something that you try to find out more about to only learn that there is no answer.

This is where you just start to realise just how human doctors really are. That no one has all the answers. Then you start to realise that doctors can make mistakes.

Then you realise that they really are no different to you, they are only human, people. Maybe they have studied a lot, maybe they have worked for many years…

The white coat or scrubs is almost a protective barrier to remove the human element. Remove this and they really are just another person.

A visit to the hospital for a Wisdom Tooth (Day 176)

Broken wisdom tooth dental x-ray

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Vet School Success

Well today I had my surgery appointment scheduled this morning for 8am, after which I was planning to return to class in time for Histology. I have been to the dentist in the UK before however this was my first time with any medical or dental problem here in Slovakia. My problems with my wisdom tooth started last February where the nerve was removed by my regular dentist however after radiographs (x-rays) he could not remove the tooth itself as the root was an abnormal shape. So he referred me to hospital in the UK, and several months later in August just before I was about to leave I got an appointment to see a oral surgeon.

Anyways this appointment which lasted all of 5 minutes was some kind of bureaucracy of the NHS, and basically was to fill in a form and to be told I would be written to with my surgery date (which turned out to be at the end of November after I had already left the country). I was hoping for the temporary job by my original dentist to last until the summer however the filling broke out with a large part of the crown of the tooth.

Broken wisdom tooth dental x-raySo Wednesday last week I went exploring the local hospital looking for an oral surgeon that could speak English. I found one and was told to come for x-rays Friday and if she had time she would do the surgery then, sadly she didn’t have time and so my appointment today which she expected to take around 30 minutes. With the way the tooth broke it cut up my gum causing inflammation, and when she looked today she found I also had inflammation in the bone. To get this single wisdom tooth took a little under 1 and a half hours, and because of the inflammation the anaesthetic did not penetrate all of the tissues meaning this probably the most painful hour I have ever spent.

Technically she did an amazing job opening a flap on both sides of the mandible, and spending ages drilling out the mandible to get to the root. One of my biggest concerns was how close the apex radix dentis (tip of the root of the tooth) was to the canalis mandibulae which is the canal where the nervus alveolaris inferior runs which controls the teeth, the chin and the lower lip. Emotionally though I was pretty traumatised and at one point was heading into shock, definately was worse than I was expecting as they both made it out to be an easy job. I was so relieved to hear her say that she had one of the roots as was starting on the second!!!

With the intense pain after surgery across the side of my face and the advice to put ice onto my cheek for the next few hours after picking up antibiotics and painkillers I headed back to dorms. Though I was intending to attend classes afterwards the pain and constant dribbling of blood persuaded me otherwise. I am hoping to pick up the practical I missed in Histology tommorow.

A quick one and then sleep…

Hi guys,

Just a really quick update today as I am exhausted, I’ve been up since around 6am after getting to sleep well after midnight, and I should be up again at 6am tommorow. I am really trying to squeeze as much outta my last 36 hours in the UK as I can. Most of my stuff has a home, it really is just my papers and clothes that are letting me down as I’ve not had time to scan them all as I had hoped 🙁 I am going try and find someway to store my papers to come back to as they could be very useful to reference during the course.

Today I had an appointment for a consultation at Cheltenham Hospital for my wisdom tooth, I was very disappointed as I basically walked in, filled in a form, signed it. The consultant then glanced at it, and basically was like we’ll send you a surgery date. I really am a nervous patient when it comes to dentists however this is agony so am going see if what options there are for me once I reach Slovakia.

Tommorow is going be a really busy day, I don’t see any sleep happening tommorow night either so I must get my head down now. You guys rock!

Chris