intubating people, even in a controlled environment like the operating theatre where every precaution is made to ensure everything goes well, scares the shit out of me.

it usually doesn’t take long. even with one failed attempt, passing over to the next person almost always does the trick. there’s no need to oxygenate in between because the preoxygenation would have been sufficient to prevent desaturation. there are preset drills and a flow of action in the event that a patient cannot be intubated.  it’s rehearsed a thousand times.

but when i take the mask off the patient’s face, grab the laryngoscope and shove it down his throat…i feel my heart stop. every second that passes until i pass the tube through his vocal cords and see the vapour rise with his breath is a second that i withhold my own breath from the world.

my peers and superiors alike have questioned me about the tense stance i have whenever i’m at work. i know that every discipline of medicine is frightening in its own way. when a patient walks into the hospital, it’s not always that they walk out.

but somehow standing at the head of a patient who has been electively rendered apnoeic, with his own consent…it makes me feel alot more responsible for his life than i would for someone else who had a cardiopulmonary arrest because he wasn’t compliant to treatment for his disease.

does this bias make sense?


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