Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Abscess Obsession

I admit it. I am weird when it comes to abscesses. I don't want to flee the room or leave it to the doctors. I want to be front row and center to watch the drainage.

Abscesses are like the perfect emergency. They are an emergency because not treating them could cause them to burst into the bloodstream, a direct point access to the bloodstream by the pathogen, which could be hard to treat, like MRSA. They also hurt- a lot. All the pressure from the pus build-up can really dig at a person. Once you lance them, the pain, pressure, danger is immediately gone. The patient usually can go home with an antibiotic if there are no complications or cellulitis. Abscesses are a quick trip to the emergency room and something can be physically done to relieve the patient. Perfect.

My patient that brought all this to mind was a nice guy I had yesterday. When I took his vital signs, I noticed tracks all up and down his arms- a heroin user. He must have tried to stick himself in the femoral vein, because on his upper thigh, he had an egg-shaped and sized hard lump. There was a small bump at the top... it was ripe for slicin'.

The doctors came in with gowns and masks- injected lidocaine, and lanced it with a scalpel. I swabbed the output to send to the lab. It wasn't a big deal- but later I laughed at myself for how excited I got to see the abscess being lanced. There's something so relieving about seeing something so swollen, red, hot-to-the-touch, painful-looking get fixed immediately. The pain and suffering is visible. The foul, purulent drainage is symbolic for the pain and suffering- when it comes out, the pain and suffering is also released.

The patient thanked us and then asked to see his girlfriend. Girlfriend? She was in the next room, with 3 abscesses in the same area!!

I gowned up and went next door for round 2.

1 comment:

  1. Yay abscess! Fun to drain, and a good starter procedure for interns.