From time to time on Neurosurgery Blog, you will see us cross-posting or linking to items from other places that we believe will interest our readers. Today’s post originally appeared on Medicine @ Brown Magazine. Abdul-Kareem Ahmed, MD, provides a poignant depiction of one night as a neurosurgical resident at the University of Maryland. Every patient’s worst moment is Dr. Ahmed’s every day.
The first patient Dr. Ahmed sees is twenty years old who appeared to have a hole in his forehead. A rapid CT scan revealed a foreign object lodged in the back of his skull. A bullet had entered and torn through the middle of his brain, damaging life-giving structures. “There was no neurosurgery, no medicine that could help him. He was devastated, the prognosis was grave,” according to Dr. Ahmed.
Dr. Ahmed received a page. A middle-aged, Portuguese-speaking patient was in a high-speed rollover on the interstate. Fortunately, his strength and sensation were intact, and he didn’t need surgery. With time, he will heal.
Another page came in, and a young woman was in the emergency room with piercing pain. An MRI of her low back revealed the cause. Dr. Ahmed admited her, and later, his team discusses options with her. She elected surgery and left the hospital the next day, back to normal.
“Tragedy is not rare. We diagnose a child with a life-changing brain tumor; a mother suffers a brain aneurysm rupture, stealing her wit; a husband’s cancer metastasizes to his spinal cord, strangling his strength and independence. Death and disability precede me,” states Dr. Ahmed. He continues, “Triumph is common, and I’ve reflected on it. There are many saves. We open the skull or the spine, pressure is relieved, and life or livelihood is restored. Most of our patients get better, rehabilitate, and move on.”
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