I’m going to go with someone, and that someone is…
Dr Kate Drummond. Dr Drummond is a Neurosurgeon who works at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. As I’ve said in a previous post (Blog Challenge – Day 1), I’ve wanted to be a surgeon since I was 12 and I’ve always been very interested in Neurosurgery.
When you’re young and eager and say that you want to become a doctor, people often don’t take you very seriously at your word and often remind you that you’ll change your mind a hundred times before deciding what you really want to do. But I’ve always stuck with it. I was so keen during my school years that I didn’t want to wait so I sought out a number of different work experience placements, but none was better than the placement with Kate at The Royal Melbourne.
Most other work experience supervisors allowed me to WATCH and STAY QUIET. Most times I wasn’t allowed in the operating theatre supposedly due to Occupational Health and Safety rules, and even more often everyone completely ignored me like I wasn’t there. But not Kate. Kate asked me what I was most interested in and gave me choice at where in the hospital I wanted to go and see. She allowed me to sit in on private and public consultations so I could recognise the differences and during in the operating theatre she explained to me every step of the way how and why she was doing each part. She even taught me how to observe the difference between grey matter, white matter and brain tumour tissue based on their colour and texture. During my time there I got to see one of the most interesting surgeries: a Deep Brain Stimulation on a patient with Fragile X Syndrome which is where titanium rods are carefully and precisely navigated into a gland and when n electrical current is attached, they stimulate the gland to produce a hormone which aids in movement. The patient who is awake during the procedure, and who usually suffers from tremors as a result of his condition, is asked to hold his hand up in the air and as the electrical current is adjusted you can see before your very eyes that the tremors become less or more violent until they reach a perfect point where they stop entirely. It’s such a beautiful moment to see.
I was also very privileged to be in the OR when an emergency stabbing victim was wheeled in and operated on. It was the most intense and exciting thing I have ever witnessed and I remember minute details of it vividly. I remember the surgeon yelling to nurses for more suction and more gauze as he scooped gelatinised and clotted blood out of the open cavity with his bare hands and flung it behind him because he had to clear it as fast as possible and wasn’t concerned with mess. I remember the metal wire stitches a young surgeon used to sew his rib cage together and I remember the entire length of intestines sitting on top of the patients belly as another surgeon ran her hands along it checking for wounds and then afterwards grabbing it by the handful and stuffing it back through the slit that gave her access to his abdominal cavity.
It may seem horrific, if not plain gross to a lot of people, but to me, these were the most exciting and inspiring moments of my life. When wondering if I can be bothered with the effort it takes to become a surgeon all I have to do is conjure up some of these amazing memories and remember how much I want it and how rewarding it will be when one day I’m the one holding the scalpel.