Wednesday, July 7, 2010
In medical school, you see a lot of stuff; gross stuff, cool stuff, stuff you didn't know existed, and stuff you wish you could forget existed.  I've seen gun shot wounds, open skull fractures, shattered limbs, babies being born, and people dying.  I've held a persons intestines outside their body, and held someones leg up by the exposed end of bone.  None of these things make me even a touch queasy.

But there are two things that I simply cannot handle: Eyes and toenails.

Why?  Because they are gross. 

We will start with toenails.  It's not that I'm not particularly fond of my own toenails.  I treat them very well, get them pedicures every couple months.  And normal toenails on basically anybody I'm ok with.  But, there are a lot of people with toenail issues out there, and I would just as soon send them to a witchdoctor as I would take care of it myself.  There are two particularly gruesome problems that make me a little nauseous.  The first is when someone breaks/smashes/opens a door into the toe, and the nail folds up.  Eewwwwwwwww.... I am getting sympathy pain just thinking about it!  It makes my neck cringe and tears come to my eyes (not a difficult task, as I will describe later) and I just want to hide it under mounds of gauze and antibiotic ointment.  Which, lucky for me, is a pretty safe way to treat most toenail injuries.  Wash it and cover it.  And never look at it again.  The other toenail issue I cannot deal with is ingrown toenails.  Not the ingrown toenail itself, but the REMOVAL of said ingrown toenail is what really gets me.  I went through my whole family medicine rotation without seeing a single ingrown toenail removal.  So I thought to myself, "hmm, this is something I really should know how to do if I want to go into family medicine".  I went to the trustiest of trusty medical information sources, YouTube, and typed in "ingrown toenail removal".  The 5 minute video that came up was... horrifying.  It looks innocent enough; a toe, a scalpel, some gauze... nothing I haven't seen before.  But as I sat in the corner in Starbucks, hunkered down with my hoodie and my headphones, I felt the color slowly drain from my face as the doctor in the video (a wanna be actor with a shiny dull butter knife for all I know) make a teeny tiny incision along the toenail bed.  Like really teeny tiny incision... and a single drop of blood.  Buuuuut, I just couldn't take it.  I felt weak and nauseated, and had to turn it off.  This is why we in medicine have colleagues.  I will take a burn patient or dislocated joint any day, and will pass off all the ingrown toenails to someone stronger than I.

Now comes the eye.  Here's the deal with eyes.  I have a problem with reflexive crying.  Anytime something happens to someone else's eyes, mine water uncontrollably.  If someone cries, I cry.  If someone gets something in their eye, I cry.  If we talk about eye surgery or getting poked in the eye, or really anything involving eyes, I cry.  I can't control it.  So, needless to say, actually DOING something to a person's eye is completely out of the realm of possibility.  I would really like to have Lasik at some point in my life (because I have terrible horrible no good very bad vision), but I think they would have to completely sedate me to get within 15 ft of my eye, and rumor on the street is they make you stay awake.  I'd prefer to wear monster-contacts.  When patients come in with eye injuries, I can hardly see through my tears long enough to actually see the injury.  The eye is an amazing little structure.  It's very important.  I'm glad mine work, and I'm glad there are people that fix them when they don't work.  However, I'd be ok if I never saw an abnormal eye again. 

I realize I may have some out of proportion reactions to the severity of these problems, but I figure if I can take care of stuff other people find gross, it's ok to pass off these two. problems to other people.

I like to call it teamwork.


About Me

I am a Family Medicine intern at a community hospital in Indiana, navigating the new world of being a physician. I am privileged to work in a field I love, where every day is a new and unpredictable challenge.
I am not only a doctor, but also a cyclist, runner, DIYer in the making, lover of the outdoors, traveler, and human.
Human, MD is a glimpse into the world of a young doctor who is just trying to stay true to herself through the grueling whirlwind of residency.


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