Week 33: Traversing A Different Canal

I put on a pair of gloves and stood in front of my patient (a fake, but anatomically correct model). With the patient turned onto his left side, I readied my finger for entrance into his anal canal. Yes, the model was forced to endure the often-dreaded rectal exam, and lucky for him, it was my first time performing this exam. Lucky for me, my first time was not on a real human being. It only took less than a minute to access the rectum of the patient, feel the contours of his prostate, and complete the digital rectal exam. Next time I perform this exam, it will likely be on a live patient…but that’s still eight months away.

This week was another hectic one (what else is new!). We doubled up on three courses, so that made my schedule a bit more chaotic. In this last week of Geriatrics, we focused on various conditions associated with aging, including incontinence, pressure ulcers (in bed rest patients), polypharmacy (the effects of prescribing too many drugs to a single patient), and dementia. Next Thursday is my Geriatrics final, and then we move on to our next specialty, Hematology/Oncology (the study of blood disorders and cancer). In Surgery we focused on the management of trauma patients, like those who present to the emergency department with gun or stab wounds to the chest and/or abdomen. We also learned how to identify and surgically repair various breast conditions, in addition to gastrointestinal abnormalities. In Obstetrics, we continued to focus on the events leading up to and during normal pregnancy. The videos of childbirth have been disturbingly graphic, but uplifting at the same time. I give much credit to anyone who has ever given birth to a child! In Clinical Skills, we continued use of the models to perform rectal/prostate exams, in addition to vaginal exams. The models are not very giving at certain times…the speculum I used to examine the cervix of my female model actually got stuck on its way out of the vagina…again, luckily these are just fake models. We also practiced the steps of delivering a baby with a different pregnancy model. I’m ready to progress to using each other as patients again next week. I think the models have had enough of me too!

This semester has been a bit different from the others with the added component of the thesis work that we’ve been doing. Now, instead of eating, sleeping, and studying, I have to consistently add research to the list of things to do. Now that my group is a few weeks into the research process, I can confirm that our topic entails the study of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries (this is one of the ligaments that support the knee joint), relating to their prevalence in college-level athletes. I’ll leave it at that for now, but once more details are solidified, I’ll give a bit more information.

Question of the week: The approximate size of the male prostate is _________ centimeters.

Last week’s answer: The most common cause of hearing loss in a patient over the age of 65 is cerumen (wax) impaction.

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