At the hospital

Spending three weeks in an hospital has certainly been a novel experience for me! Except for the boredom (reflected by the many books reviews found in the past posts) and the uncertainty about the success of the graft, not mentioning the occasional pain, I found the experience interesting in several ways. First, I discussed a lot with nurses (and very little with doctors). As I stayed on observation for two weeks, my thumb was checked by a nurse at least every two hours. This (and the heating lamp) did not help with my sleep, but I was amazed by the dedication of those nurses and their constant good cheer, even after my next door neighbour repeatedly crashed out of his bed in an alcohol-detox crisis (no, I was not hospitalised for alcohol related problems!) or when a leech did not want to get to work at three in the morning. They certainly provided a very efficient psychological help during the first days. And then later when I would see them again. On the other hand, my surgeon was extremely busy between emergency surgeries and courses at the university, and he would/could only come to check on the thumb a few minutes every day.  Second, I realised how empirical the whole operating process was. There were certainly protocols and rules, but the surgeries and the treatments I received were empirical attempts to save the thumb based on the actors’ past experience. For instance; my surgeon used antibiotics while others did not. And kept using leeches longer than others. Although this is frustrating to me as a patient (what if they had tried something else? &tc.), I understand it makes sense in a Bayesian sense, i.e. that doctors and nurses have to rely on their past experience and on the specificities of the patient to try to find the most efficient treatment. Or to provide me with honest evaluations of my chances of recovery. Third, having the right arm anaesthetised three times  provided me with interesting sensorial experiments, from the impression of having my arm raised in the air when it was sitting on the operation table, to the complete lack of control of the same arm after the operation and it coming with a vengeance to hit me in the face later that night! Having medical students run the anaesthesia on me was not the most enjoyable moment of the stay, making me feel like a guinea-pig, but hearing the senior anaesthetists provide pieces of advice and warnings was certainly informative. The same impression applies to staying awake during the surgeries. Fourth and last, I noticed the “hospital weekend effect“, in that doctors were much less available over the weekends (there were days I did not see one at all) and nurses had longer shifts and were obviously more tired (to the point of once confusing head and tail of a leech).

One Response to “At the hospital”

  1. Daniel Says:

    Xian, take care! I wish you a speedy recovery…

    and I am sure you are taking some time to think about your next books!

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