Friday, December 15, 2006

Life And Death

This post not as serious as the title implies.

Way back when I was a kid, like, 15 or 70 years ago we had a Commodore Amiga computer. And we were constantly recieving a stream of pirated software for it. (Oh God. I hope one of my 5 readers isn't a lawyer for Commodore! Oh God! Is Commodore still even a viable entity anymore?!?)
One of those many, many games was something called Life and Death. It was a cute little sim that put you in the role of a young doctor making his rounds at a hospital, dealing with an incessant wave of old people with stomach pain. So you could order x-rays, do MRI's and poke them in the abdomen til they started swearing at you. Unfortunately we didn't have a 'cracked' version of the game so we couldn't attempt the games bread and butter- surgery. So, while I'm sure I wasted more time than any kid reasonably should pretending to jab old folks in the gut, I eventually got bored and forgot all about it.

Until I found it available online. Now, this is the PC version, with vastly inferior graphics and messed up sound. But hey, I figured now was my chance to fullfill a lifelong dream, or at least one I just now thought up. I would attempt surgery!

Most patients you see do not require surgery. After poking them in the stomach enought times, you are supposed to be able to tell what is wrong with them. I soon became adept at spotting the three different things people go to the hospital for (gas, kidney stones and the other thing). But finally, I began to get patients who didn't show the tell tale sign of any of these. It was time to rock!

I ended up making three attempts surgery. None of them went "particularly well" or "likely left the patient in a living state".

Attempt #1. My tries at grabbing the scalpel to get to work are constantly thwarted by my bitchy assistants who keep "reminding" me that maybe I should scrub up first. Unable to locate a sink I try what appears to be a squeeze bottle but instead turns out to be the patients IV drip. Frustrated I walk out of the OR.
For this I am sent back to medical school. There I learn that "soap is in the top drawer". Thanks. $10,000 in student loans for something the attending nurse probably could have mentioned to me.

Attempt #2. I washed my damn hands, OK? I even did the other things I learned about like putting on gloves and injecting the patient with antibiotics. It took a few tries to find the right syringe (It's the one marked 'A'!) but I was ready to go now! Grabbing my scalpel I dive in make an incision along the....well, I don't know. But it didn't look right so I tried another. Oh no, says my useless assistant. It has to be connected to the initial incision. Fine, I make another cut directly up then branch another off that at a 90 degree angle. I'm feeling pretty good about my chances here, when the "Head Of Surgery" comes in, calls me a butcher and kicks me out. Seriously.

Attempt #3. I learned at medical school that I should use the forceps to stop the bleeding after making an incision. Oh. That's how that works. So after going through the previous steps I make a nice, neat little cut in a totally arbitrary spot. Then I grab an object that looks like what I think forceps look like, and what forceps rendered in early '90's IBM graphics probably look like and shove them in. Then I sit and watch as several red circles appear and become progressively bigger. Then the Head of Surgery shows up again to chew me out, but I'm not even listening to this asshole anymore. What the hell man. Why did they have to make abdominal surgery so difficult?

I don't know how many, if any, of my patients actually died, but I definitely take comfort in the fact that I was able to put an old man with gas under observation.

EDIT: Oh yeah. The first time I tried surgery I grabbed the scalpel and my nurse shrieked "Shouldn't you put the patient under first??" Argh, you stupid bitch why are you trying to scare the poor guy???

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