I work primary care here in Haiti, not emergency room. I like it but the monotonity of my patients' complaints gets to me sometimes. Heartburn, headache, hypertension. Heartburn, headache, hypertension. Heartburn, headache, hypertension.
You get the picture.
Every now and then, I get to change hats and do one of my favorite things in the medical realm: suture people. It's odd, but I have noticed that these things happen in waves. I may go weeks without any blood, and then suddenly have 4 or 5 patients in a week. Monday was a bit like that. First, I had a scheduled patient, a 14 year old with a large skin tag on one of her breasts that I removed and sewed up. I'd barely finished cleaning up when a neighbor, Brunel, came to the door. He'd sliced his ear open moving rebar at the St Joseph's construction site and he needed a couple stitches also. Unlike my last few patients, all children under the age of 15, big tough Brunel tried to run out of the room when I said the word "stitch".
A few days later in Gonaives, Martha, the nurse instructor who oversees the hospital inservices and the various health classes we teach, asked me to teach suturing to the nurses she is training in Jubilee. It was a blast! I loved showing them what I've learned, sharing some of my successes and mistakes with them, encouraging and correcting and guiding them. The only thing that was a little disturbing: our practice arm which looked frighteningly real!