Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Let me show you the shape of my heart

Dear Medicine,

I think I have a new favourite organ. It's called the heart. Sure the kidneys are cute, and I'll always have a soft spot for the appendix. But there's just something about the strong pulsations and energy of the heart that is irresistable.


Today I started my elective in cardiac and vascular surgery. I was a little nervous...ok, I was actually a LOT nervous because: (1) we haven't learned too much about the heart yet, and (2) I heard that my preceptor (aka supervisor/teacher) was intense. Intense is not a bad thing...it's just intimidating for a shy person like myself.

I stepped into the OR to find the senior resident leaning over an open chest with retractors in her hands. She quickly introduced herself, found out I was a Med II and asked if I wanted to scrub in.

Heck yessss!!!

I'm so glad she offered otherwise I wouldn't have been able to see anything. I had a great view of the heart and it was mindblowing to see it contracting before my eyes.

Speaking of the heart, contrary to what we're taught as children it doesn't look much like this:

If you see any resemblance to the real thing, please let me know :P 

I think part of what made the day so good was the teachers. Before the heart was opened up I got to touch the aorta with my hand and feel the turbulent flow of blood from the stenosis (pretty much feeling a "fluttering" under my fingers from what would be heard as a heart murmur with a stethoscope).

Partway through the surgery, the senior resident turned to me and we had the following conversation:

Resident: Rebekah, what are you doing Thursday morning?
Me: *gym, clinical skills prep, lab prep, studying neuro, meeting @ children's hospital*
       Not much...we don't start clinic until the afternoon.
Resident: How would you feel about scrubbing into surgery on Thursday. We're short of hands and you could be first assist.
Me: *AHHHHH!!! oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh!!!*
        Yes, that would be great!

Sometimes I'm surprised by my ability to respond in a calm matter despite what's going on in my head! My "homework" is to practice tying knots...apparently 1000 a day. I can already tell you that this will not be happening tonight! I wonder how brutal it would be to double up tomorrow.

If you have a moment, tell your heart you love it...or how cool it is. I'm sure it will love the appreciation :).


  1. Whoa, so cool. I have so much admiration for you!

  2. I'm so jealous right now! I've always wanted to touch live organs in a surgery before! Strange I know. I'm hoping one of these days I'll get the chance to. That must have been so fascinating watching essentially how we define life do it's job. Congrats on getting to assist on the surgery, you will do great!

  3. Thanks Errign & Britt! It's been a really fun experience so far and I feel very fortunate. I'm so excited for the OR tomorrow!

  4. "I'll always have a soft spot for the appendix." - HAHAHAHAHA!! I love you!

    Super cool that you get to assist a surgery!