Today was my last Thursday in pathology. It is hard to believe that this is about to end. This year has been very long, particularly since I knew fairly early on that I was leaving. But I have learned a lot, more than I could have expected in some ways. While reviewing some of my pediatrics books from medical school, I have realized that I have a lot of familiarity with a wide spectrum of diseases. Granted, I know next to nothing about management anymore, but hopefully this training I have gotten will be useful in some ways.
Last Friday was my last day of surgical pathology. It was my last day in the gross room and my last day venturing in to the ORs for frozens. I cannot say that I will miss either grossing or frozen sections very much at all. Lately, our pagers have not been working well, which has added another interesting dimension to the rather strained relationship that already seems to exist between pathology and the OR nurses and surgeons at this hospital. Let's just say when the callback after the first page begins with someone yelling, "we've been paging you for 30 minutes and you have ignored us," it does not bode well for the encounter.
Somehow, I had managed to make it through the entire year without having to gross in a leg. Maybe it was all of the Whipple specimens that I seemed to get without fail. Ironically, my colleagues who seemed to want Whipple specimens to get good at doing were spared. I digress. Anyway, we do get a lot of below-the-knee amputations, but often the PAs took care of them and I had never had to do one. Late afternoon on my last day my luck ran out. I was given a large leg covered with necrotic debris from chronic osteomyelitis. It was awful to look at, but it was pretty easy to gross since the disease, unfortunately for the patient, was so extreme.
At the end of the day there was no place to put the leg. It was too big to fit into a container and it could not stay in the gross room without formalin. I called the morgue attendant to come and fetch it, but it was the start of a long weekend so no one was there. Finally, the cytotech got wind of my predicament and tried to clean out some room in the already-very-full-of-chemicals cytology fridge. Meanwhile, another tech and I consolidated all of the trash into one can so that we could accumulate enough red biohazard bags to wrap the leg. I then spent my final few minutes of grossing duties attempting to stuff the leg into the crisper of the fridge. Yes, the crisper. It was a disgustingly appropriate end to my grossing experience.