Thursday, February 09, 2006

"Is there a doctor onboard?"

T= minus 30 hours.
Will be flying off soon.
Rochester-Minneapolis-Chicago-Seoul-KL.
22 hours of pure clautrophobic bliss.
I read somewhere that within the US alone there is an average of 30 (or was that 300?) inflight medical issues/emergencies daily necessitating a doctor.
Me, I've been unlucky (or lucky?) before. Have had 2 inflight experiences. The first was classic; final year medical student, just completed a long surgical rotation. Was flying back to Canada from KL after an elective, somewhere over the Pacific, when they overhead paged for a doctor. It was a full flight, so I was pretty sure there would be a physician onboard. But there was none. And so I offered my help.
As it turns out, this Japanese girl, all boozed up, fell as she was getting up to use the little girls' room (they drink like fish, don't they? Then again, so do I). Hit the back of her head on the metal seat legs and suffered a 3 inch long deep gash. There was a small puddle of coagulating blood on the carpet, but thankfully the bleeding had slowed to an ooze. And so, because I had my precious new opthalmoscope in my hand-carry, was able to do a quick fundoscopic exam to look for papilledema (never mind that a med student would never see one in an undilated pupil). They had a suture kit onboard; but because the bleeding had stopped, we left it alone. But it would have been something to talk about if I had to stitch someone up in the plane; bragging rights for a year. They did give me a complimentary bottle of champagne to take with me though. I felt like a hero (who did nothing).
My other experience was on MAS, enroute from Narita to KL. Lady who was having her menses became syncopal when she got up. So, we just laid her down and raised her legs; suggested they move her to first class where she could lay down and get some blood to her head. Got a free bag of MAS toiletries on that one. No champagne. But my ego was inflated pretty big that time; what with the stewardess' all being there. But no, no one asked me for my phone number. In fact, they didn't even offer to move ME to first class.
Still, I can't beat what happened to Nick though, when a passenger coded on the plane. Probably has a post-MI arrhythmia (hubby said she was having chest discomfort that afternoon). They had to emergently land the plane. Apparently the AED showed asystole; they couldn't bring her back (you tried your best though, Nick).
The story that takes the cake though, was the one I read in Reader's Digest. Lady with a tension pneumothorax that was collapsing her lung. So happens there was a Scottish surgeon and a new medical graduate on the plane. Using drinking alcohol (I hope it wasn't Chivas), oxygen tubing, bottles and whatnots, they farking placed a CHEST TUBE on the plane and improvised a one-way valve. We're not talking about measly injections here, ladies & gentlemen. A bloody chest tube! And saved her life. Fark. Gutsy. Something you tell your grandkids. And have them tell their grandkids. About how grandpappy sliced someone's chest wall with a butterknife and shoved in a rubber hose to reinflate the lungs. All while in the smaller-than-a-coffin economy class.
So, this time, I'm just gonna load up on my benadryl and red wine, and go right to sleep. And pray someone doesn't pop a hemorrhoid or go into labour while we're somewhere over the ocean.

2 Comments:

Blogger dobbs said...

Have a good flight back to KL! :)

2:11 AM  
Anonymous simmie said...

I hope it was Dom Perignon!

Something similar happened awhile back on one of my trips to the UK. I'm not sure what the doctor did but it involved a wire coat hanger and a butter knife! No, they didn't give him champagne or upgrade him to first class.

Say, I wonder if most planes are equipped with defibrillators. I know Nortwest is. It was on the news this week.

Anyway, have a good trip home and recharge yourself!

8:55 AM  

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