The first few weeks of the rotation I was paired up with another resident. I basically shadowed them in the OR during their cases. The week of Thanksgiving I was officially given “my own room.” This means that I am now acting as the anesthesia resident in the operating room, putting the patient to sleep, monitoring them throughout the case, waking them up, and taking them to the recovery room--with a staff anesthesiologist as my back up.
I was very worried the days prior to starting by myself. That song that is on the radio right now that says, “flying solo, flying solo” or is it “riding solo"” (?) kept running through my head. I had nightmares every night leading up to my debut, including things like heads falling off my patients and me trying to put them back on and hoping nobody noticed. The Friday before I started on my own I had a trial run by myself of about 30 minutes. Wow, suddenly those monitors became so intriguing and my heart was racing. It felt like I was watching a suspense movie I couldn’t turn away from.
Luckily, I have had a lot of supervision and the faculty have all been very nice. I am starting to see I am making improvements in placing the breathing tube, breathing for the patient, and monitoring for problems. I don’t have as many nightmares, feel a little less stressed, and can tell that I am learning. For example, I had a patient whose oxygen fell down (her lungs closed up—called a bronchospasm) and blood pressure shot up through the roof. I was all alone but I knew I had to act, and fast. I was pleased that I stayed calm, secured the airway, administered medication to calm the patient and bring the blood pressure back down. By the time a staff anesthesiologist appeared (they had been paged overhead), I had the patient stable. It was still scary but I was pleased I was able to manage the situation and I learned that I can at least take care of problems until help arrives.
So, after one month I am really starting to like my transient life as an anesthesiologist. I have gained a huge appreciation for this group of doctors who take patients lives in their hands multiple times each day. And, it really isn’t as boring as everyone thinks. When it is you ensuring a patient’s healthy sleep, it can be very interesting and exciting!