Sarah Hanafi is a medical student in the Class of 2018 at the University of Alberta
In healthcare, we sometimes hear the saying, “I went home thinking about that patient.” I thought I knew what this meant until I met Winnie.
It was a foggy Tuesday and the humidity hung thick in the air. On my first day as an elective student in Palliative Care, I was apprehensive as I exited the elevator onto the hospital unit where I would be spending the next two weeks. Soon after my orientation, I was asked to go meet my first patient. Winnie came to us with pain and shortness of breath due to an advanced lung cancer. We worried that Winnie’s hospital bed would become her death bed. ...continue reading →
Praveen Ganty is a Consultant in Pain Medicine & Anesthesia in Toronto
There is a new fashion in the world of Medicine, and in the world of primary care in particular. It is the reluctance to continue prescribing, or to prescribe, opioids. There are two sides to the situation. As medical professionals, we have realized the potential harm that opioids can cause to potentially any patient, especially if prescribed for chronic non-cancer pain. However, many of us have also decided to stop prescribing opioids to patients who have been on them for many years, which raises some concerns. The first principle in the practice of Medicine is Primum non nocere-first do no harm - (modified to ‘first do no further harm’ by some authors).
Managing chronic pain is not easy and - let’s face it - most of us don’t have enough training in this area. A 2011 survey revealed that only an average of 19.5 hours are devoted to the management of pain in an average medical school curriculum. ...continue reading →
Barbara Sibbald, News and Humanities editor for the Canadian Medical Association Journal, reads the CMAJ Humanities Encounters article "Cathartic narratives for chaotic thinking" (subscription required). The article is written by Dr. Richard Hovey, associate professor in the Division of Oral Health and Society with the Faculty of Dentistry at McGill University.
In the article, Dr. Hovey speaks from personal experience about life with severe chronic pain.
Peggy Cumming, is a wife, mother, grandmother of 6, sister, niece, cousin and friend, as well as a teacher - retired after 34 years in the classroom - and an athlete. She is now recovering from surgery.
My Surgery was November 12. I came home from hospital on November 18. Today it's more than a week later and I have a lot to fill you in on!
I am home, physically safe, but perhaps not mentally sound, and in recovery mode. The hospital experience was indeed an adventure! I can only tell you my story from my layman’s point of view. Remember that I am not a medical person, or even a scientific one. So if you, dear reader, are a medical practitioner, please excuse my non-medical explanations!
I predicted that I would have a moment of peace and faith just before entering the OR. Not so. With bed-side visits from a nurse, an anaesthetist and a surgeon, tons of reality avalanched on to me, bringing a flow of tears, even as each one assured me that everything would be fine. I was wheeled in to the Operating Room where a scrubbed and masked medical army introduced themselves and told me their role. Trying to absorb their voices, the gleaming chrome, the tubes, screens and wires, the needle going into my back, I drifted off to never-never land. My opportunity to claim that moment of faith passed.
The procedure, as I learned afterwards, was incredible! Briefly, in non-medical vocabulary, and probably with some inaccuracies, this is it: ...continue reading →
Peggy Cumming, is a wife, mother, grandmother of 6, sister, niece, cousin and friend, as well as a teacher - retired after 34 years in the classroom - and an athlete. She will be going for surgery this week.
The date: August 6, 2014. The place: Montreal...
Grasping for air and my heart beating out of my chest, I grip the pool gutter for a minute before I can drag my depleted body out of the pool after completing the 200m Individual Medley* at the World Masters Swimming competition. Then I swim down in the warm-up pool, to flush the lactic acid build-up in my body. (That’s a lot of ups and downs in swimmers’ jargon!)
After two days' rest, I will reset my goals and decide what I’m training for next. My "next" events might be another swim meet, dragon boat races, cross country ski loppet, a bike trip, a triathlon or open water swimming season. Thankfully, there’s always the next great event to anticipate!
Flash forward to today.... ...and my next event is Lung Surgery, scheduled for Nov. 12, so I reset my goals accordingly.
Since August 6, I have been ‘in training for surgery’. I have been determined to be as strong, healthy and fit as I can be, before going into the operating room. I think there are many commonalities, and stages, between training for a 200m IM swimming race and training for lung surgery. ...continue reading →