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Houston Breakthrough, November 1979
Page 18
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Houston Breakthrough, November 1979 - Page 18. November 1979. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. September 18, 2021. https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/1660/show/1645.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(November 1979). Houston Breakthrough, November 1979 - Page 18. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/1660/show/1645

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Breakthrough, November 1979 - Page 18, November 1979, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed September 18, 2021, https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/1660/show/1645.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houston Breakthrough, November 1979
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date November 1979
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women
  • Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
  • Newsletters
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Type (DCMI)
  • Text
  • Image
Original Item Location HQ1101 .B74
Original Item URL http://library.uh.edu/record=b2332724~S11
Digital Collection Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the UH Digital Library About page.
File Name index.cpd
Item Description
Title Page 18
Format (IMT)
  • image/jpeg
File Name femin_201109_555aq.jpg
Transcript "when the attending physician leaves and says, 'Phone me if you need anything.' "That first night on call, I stood in ICU (Intensive Care Unit) listening to the cardiac monitors and the respirators, filled with this enormous sense of responsibility for my patients. For the first time there was no other doctor standing over my shoulder. I was the doctor for the night." Kate Thompson is a new doctor beginning her internship in Hermann Hospital's oncology (cancer) ward. Thompson and 99 classmates—including her husband- received their hoods and diplomas in June from the University of Texas Medical School at Houston. Interns are inducted into patient care quickly and a rotation on the cancer ward makes heavy emotional, as well as physical, demands on them. Death, which doctors sometimes interpret as failure, is ever present. During Thompson's first night on call she received an urgent message from an ICU nurse. One of her patients was dying. "Come here quickly, I think you are going to have to pronounce him soon." Earlier in the evening the family objected to putting the man on a respirator. No machines, they said, no strangling tubes, nothing. "I told his wife he would probably die that night without a respirator. She answered that she knew," says Thompson. "When I got to the ICU the cardiac monitor was very slow. There would be a blip and then maybe it would go for 10 seconds before there was another blip." At the end she saw a straight line and pronounced the patient dead. "I'd never told a family about a death before. In medical school there were situations where we could have listened in but the doctors always closed the door. I never heard it once. Suddenly, I had to deal with a family—and get an autopsy permission. "Your husband has just died," Thomp son told the patient's wife over the phone, quietly and simply. Thompson met the family members when they arrived at the hospital at 5:00 a.m. "They were crying, then they would remember something very nice about the patient and they would share this and laugh. Then they would cry, then they would laugh again." Later, at dawn Thompson walked the family back out to the parking lot. After 7 a.m. she went to the cafeteria for a quick breakfast. Fatigue and the emotions surrounding her first patient death hit, but it was a new day of decisions and patient care. Next, the morning rounds, a time when each patient's progress is checked and appropriate treatments and medications are recommended. From 10 a.m. to noon the interns gather with doctors and visiting professors for a review of the cases and an evaluation of the care and treatment. "I sometimes wonder how my patients make it at all," Thompson says. "I feel I've screwed up totally [by] the textbook, but then I go into their rooms and they're doing pretty well." Thompson works with one other intern supervised by a resident doctor and two cancer specialists. She is assigned approximately 12 patients, each undergoing experimental chemotherapy treatments. She's at the hospital seven days a week and on call every third night. On the cancer ward, being on call usually means 36 nonstop hours for the duration of her four-week-long rotation. Chemicals that kill to save Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy are monitored very carefully. "These treatments are powerful and wipe out every living cell, including good blood cells." Today, one of her patients has only 8,000 platelets. Normal count is 150,000 to 300,000. "This is what we deal with every day. Patients have the off-the-wall "The patients are so sick, and there's so much to be done," Thompson says. "Taking care of about 12 critically ill patients requires a lot of caring, a lot of record-keeping, a lot of running. You just get cranked up and go on adrenalin," she says. blood values because of their chemotherapy. With only 8,000 platelets they can begin to bleed from their mouth or under their skin." This particular patient is not bleeding, so Thompson and the attending physician decide to hold off further transfusion for the moment. Another patient responds well to his chemotherapy but at 75 years of age emphysema causes other complications. He may need treatments to dilate his bronchial tubes during the night. Thompson leaves a note on his chart so this treatment can begin. A young woman patient in her late thirties has battled cancer for seven years. Her hair is thin from chemotherapy treatments and she is back at the hospital for evaluation and further treatment. She is apprehensive, but there are not many minutes for comfort and reassurance. There are so many patients to see, so many more treatment decisions to be made. Another patient is in a coma in ICU where he is monitored moment by moment. Thompson checks on him many times each day and night, using the fire stairs to run from one hospital floor to another. Now, she reviews his condition, orders more blood, updates his chart and heads back upstairs. "He's not going to make it, there's just no way. His liver is all shot, you can tell that from the blood work. His respiratory status is pretty good, but his kidneys aren't functioning, and he's got brain failure." She grimaces, her chin is set. "I hate it, I just hate it. He'll never live a normal life again, ever, but they just persist in keeping him alive. It hurts me to see it. "Cancer specialists are the ultimate optimists. They are always hopeful. They are researchers forever striving for something better. They've got to be optimistic; they can't get down. The patients are so sick and there is so much to be done," she says."You just get cranked up and go on adrenalin. I'm always running, running. Even when there is a pause you think a- head to what may happen to a patient the very next moment. Every minute is filled with decision making situations and now I'm the one making many of the decisions. Everyone calls doctor, doctor, all day and all night. "I had just arrived at the hospital one morning when my beeper went off," she says. "I ran to a phone and a nurse said, 'One of our patients is having an arrhythmia. We've got her hooked up to the cardiac monitor and this is what we see.' Well, the rhythm was fairly dangerous to the lady. She could have gone into complete heart block and died. I was running to get to the floor thinking, 'Oh, my God, how do I remember what I'm supposed to do for this. I've learned and I must remember right now.' By the time I got to the patient's room I knew how to handle it. I remembered the name of the damn drug and we brought the lady out of her rhythm in five or six minutes. I really felt good about it." Thompson's afternoons are usually quieter. "Most patients don't 'crash' in the afternoon, that happens in the middle of the night," she says, "so you do paperwork and telephoning to make sure the tests you ordered are being done. You've got to be on top of it all." A young doctor has a lot of necessary paperwork. There are always case histories and physicals to be written up, charts that must be updated. "Medical people have to write thorough case histories. Others rely on your information. It's got to be right or the patient suffers." Sometimes that paperwork gets done in the late afternoons, many other times it is done at 3 a.m., whenever there is a quiet time. "I never see a job completed at one time," says Thompson. "I'll write a note on a chart and then get a beep or a nurse will ask a question or another doctor will say, 'Let's make rounds.' Consequently,