Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Seven Quick Takes

This post conforms to the blog rules.It's been quite some time since I did seven quick takes, a blogging/sharing technique created by Jen Fulwiler in the peak of her blogging days. (It's a cheap way to write a quick post when you're studying for CREOGs.)

#1
I have begun to realize that unity among pro-lifers is harder than I thought. I went to a huge benefit dinner for a (very successful) evangelical pro-life group, and I had to will myself to keep smiling. There was so much talk about how God would save America and how America was going to become great. There was so much talk about proselytism. As a Catholic, I know that God promised His Church would survive, not that my decadent country would survive. And I'm around to evangelize by example, not by discussing acceptance of the Lord with women in crisis. 

But I don't have to love everyone's tactics. Pro-life needs unity.

#2
Speaking of unity, Christian unity would be great for the culture, too. I've mentioned before that a lecturer I had in med school defended the LGBTQ community (awkwardly, and not to the enjoyment of the LGBTQ in the audience) by pointing to Christian disunity. He was attempting to explain how LGBTQ Christians should be comfortable with Leviticus, and expansively pointed to the number of denominations there are. The bible means whatever you want! 

At this point I'd settle for SSPX or the Orthodox Church coming into whatever communion with the Roman Catholics as is possible.

Here's something to help Christian unity: pray for an increase in your desire for Christian unity. Pray that the disunity will start to be painful to you, rather than just a bummer fact. Schedule this prayer for every time you pass a church of another denomination. Simply pray as you drive: "Lord, unite us."

#3
Are there any college students or PhD candidates reading? I would like a Catholic PhD so that I can fund bench research in mitochondrial replacement, methotrexate mechanism of action investigation, naprotechnology basics, and ectopic rescue. This is a big call--tell friends and relatives I'm looking.

#4
I have several friends who are rapidly becoming more and more accusatory of the Pope. We don't owe him affection, guys! We owe him filial obedience in matters of faith and morals. In the middle ages and renaissance the papacy was super messed up, but Catholics like St. Hildegard, St. Catherine and St. Joan continued to respect it supremely. They respected it because they worshipped Christ and trusted in His decision to establish the office. Let's do the same.

#5
Speaking of Pope Francis, there was a break-out session at the CMA conference about his theology. According to the presenter, his work is a type of Christian personalism, a theology of encounter. Authentic encounter leads to renewal of life and joy, in the pope's view, and a God-given mission follows on this renewal. The Christian mission is always one of mercy, the pope has said, and everyone is called to this mission of mercy. 

Moreover, the pope emphasizes frequently that the privileged starting place for our evangelical mission is with the poor. This is because the mission is modeled on Jesus, the "man for others," and thus will entail suffering as we accompany others into the Father's arms. This break-out session was largely drawn from Evangelii Gaudium, but much of Pope Francis' other work echoes these themes.

#6
I started cantoring at my parish a few months ago. I haven't cantored since middle school, and have been saddened by the weakness and loss of range in my voice since residency. My parish desperately needed cantors, so I volunteered.

I was shocked at how much stage fright I've developed! I can do a crash C-section fearlessly but I'm shaking while singing the Ave Maria that I sung at age ten in front of a packed church? It shows me a well of timidity (a form of pride) that I didn't know I had. I've been trying to care less and less about "human testimony" (Jn 5:34), and this is another chance to do that. Plus, it definitely confirms that I am an alto. I tried so hard to be a soprano as a kid, and now there's no doubt left.

#7
I had a wonderful, consoling, productive vacation. This makes me want to be a better doctor, but it also makes me want a calmer schedule. In particular, it makes me dread my upcoming 19-day run without a golden weekend. Say a prayer!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Uterine Rupture

This post conforms to the blog rules.
The other day I was scrubbed to do an orange repeat C-section (urgent, not scheduled but not a life-or-death emergency). The patient had a history of two C-sections and was in spontaneous labor. Women aren't supposed to go into labor with two cesarean scars: their risk of uterine rupture (breaking open their cesarean scar while they contract) is too high to be generally accepted.

I stood next to the patient on the OR table as the sterile prep solution dried on her abdomen, before I covered her with a sterile drape and began the surgery. Opposite me was my chief resident and the MFM fellow, also both scrubbed. The attending was standing next to the door, not scrubbed, on the phone. I have no idea where the sub-intern was, but she wasn't ready yet.

Suddenly the fellow pointed to the patient's abdomen as a very dramatic fetal movement changed the contour of her pregnant belly. Her water suddenly broke all over the table. "Well," said the attending, "now we have to move faster."

"I'm worried she ruptured her uterus," the fellow said under his breath, as he walked up to the table.

I draped the patient and the fellow and I put our hands on the uterus. "I can feel baby with a lot of definition," I said. I could feel little elbows way too well, as if there weren't enough layers between me and the baby.

"Go stat," the attending said. The C-section priority changed from orange to red, and in a moment I had my hand in the patient, fishing for a fetal head without having to cut any uterus. It was clear: she had ruptured her uterus. I felt the head in her pelvis and started to lift it up. The moment I did, the baby swam away and then all I felt was buttocks. I extracted the baby breech, and then I got a chance to look at the uterus. She had broken open her old scars.

I've never seen a uterine rupture, I've never seen it happen right in front of my face, and I've never had a baby who had room (and cheek!) to swim away from me during a delivery. Wow! Baby and mom were fine.