Gun shot wound.
You would think rotating on trauma surgery, I would see these every day. But up here in New Hampshire, we consider ourselves a destination trauma center. Ski accidents in the winter, motorcycle accidents in the summer. So it is much less common for us to see intentionally inflicted traumas.
About an hour south, in a slightly larger city, the demographics are different. As I was walking out the door, my attending simply said: “GSW. You in?” I couldn’t say no. This would be my first, and if I do pursue a career in surgery, specifically trauma surgery, I would need to gain as much experience as possible.
So I stayed. And it was incredible. Amidst the chaos of the ED, there was a synchrony amongst personnel. Almost a chorus of responders with a lead conductor, the trauma surgeon, orchestrating it. Decisions were made in a staccato fashion. Everything else was on hold. The sole purpose was to get this patient to the OR, stat.
And within 15 minutes, we were scrubbed and gowned. And then began the true symphony. Watching the surgeons, nurses and scrub tech work in harmony was almost poetic. What could have been disastrous was smooth. It was as if I were watching a team of rowers: from afar it was majestic, but you know inside that shell, the work was hard yet directed.
It reminded me of my days in Detroit when I was a teacher. I would hear about GSWs daily but had never before been a part of the experience. It brought me back to remembering why I wanted to go into medicine in the first place. Surrounding the OR are the social determinants of health that bring the patients to us in the first place.
They say you will never forget your first GSW. I certainly won’t. This patient is another story, another reason that keeps me motivated amidst the chaos that is medical school, particularly as I start applying for residencies this fall. So while I wish for better circumstances for my patient, I am honored to be part of their experience.