Wednesday, October 19, 2005

I'm in love with a lawyer


and the lucky man is Eric Rothschild of the Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton, who is cross examining the creationist Michael Behe in the "Creation versus Evolution - because maybe we got it wrong back in 1925" trial occuring in the small town of Whatcenturyisthisanyway, Pennsylvania. Read all about it in the New Scientist.

Anyway: another inexcusably long delay, sorry about that. A vast amount has been going on, and I haven't even been on the net for over a week. Lots to talk about. One weird thing. I really miss this when I don't do it. Writing this, and reading everyone else's stuff, is really really enjoyable. So, after this straight off to my tour of the blogs - hope everyone's life is going wellish.

So, what's gone on?

"My" murder trial has been called off, the one involving the woman I saw in the ED after she'd been assaulted by her partner, who three weeks after I saw her was assaulted again... but this time died. The first day of the trial he apparently stood up and changed his plea to guilty. Apparently there was much rejoicing amongst the police.

Truly weird thing is, I feel very relieved by this, but I also feel in some way cheated, as if he (the man who admitted to doing this terrible thing) has in some way ducked out of something, some deserved punishment. Which is daft and odd, because the trial isn't the punishment, and I am fairly dubious about the whole trial by jury thing. I can't defend this feeling of doubt, but somehow I don't feel that a criminal trial is a particularly good method of determining the guilt or innocence of a human being. It may be the best we've got, but I don't know it's that good. In medicine we are lucky, we can run tests and do experiments to see if what we are doing works, in law they don't have that advantage.

So, what's been going on? Yesterday we had to relocate someone's dislocated hip. We see a lot of dislocations, they are all pretty much the same idea - give someone something to calm them down, then grab the affected part and pull and/or twist in the appropriate direction. This works for hips, knees, shoulders, fingers, etc.

In the old days it was pretty much grab and twist, manouvres that look a lot like Chinese wrestling techniques - a combination of guile, distraction and speed. Nowadays there's medications so you allegedly feel nothing and remember less. I saw Dr Rigour (very old school) once stride into a room and introduce herself with her right hand proffered as if for a handshake. When the startled man extended his hand, she grabbed his finger and wrenched it back into place with an audible pop and a short sharp scream (his, not hers).

Fingers are easy, the kind of thing you can do in the middle of a judo training session. Jaws are relatively rare, but everyone always remembers them because the large and otherwise sober-minded emergency medicine textbook we turn to in idle hours states lists among the causes "excessive yawning" and "oral sex". Shoulders are very common, dislocating them hurts like hell. Hips are probably the most physically difficult to reduce - big joints surrounded by lots of muscle.

Anyway, we had to pop someone's hip back in yesterday, a techique that really illustrates the delicacy and precision of modern emergency medicine. We gave her buckets of pain relief and something to make her drowsy, and then I clambered onto the bed, stood spread-eagled and dragged on her thigh like trying to uproot a vegetable, and one other doctor heaved on her hip to keep her on the bed and another leant on her inner thigh to make sure the hip popped back in the same place.

So, that was fifteen minutes of considerable physical effort, eventually successful. I shuffled around the ED for the rest of the day like a gnome, remembering how I used to be strong.

Anyway, nothing that gripping here, but good to be back. Hopefully something of more substance later today - possibly about sexy lawyers and the terror thereof.

Thanks for listening,


Blogger Foilwoman said...

So, when I dislocated my shoulder and they shoved it back in without painkillers -- it hurt like a bastard -- did they not give me the good stuff because I'm such a superheroine? Whenever my Little Older Sister dislocates a shoulder (a frequent occurrence, don't ask), they give her the good stuff. Me, they just shoved it back in. Don't worry, I gave the doctor who did that a learning experience. I punched him with my good arm.

1:11 PM  
Blogger Bronze John said...

Good God that sounds painful. In fact, it is painful, I've seen it happen spontaneously (someone's shoulder popped in and out in a matter of seconds - much screaming ensues).

I'm always worried about getting bitten when I relocate jaws.

Wincing as I type

6:35 AM  

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