Social media is sort of awkward territory for people involved in healthcare. I get it: sometimes I forget that people aren’t interested in gangrene as much as I am. Sometimes I’ll post something on Twitter about dick-eating bacteria and lose 20 followers. I can only imagine the kind of isolation ER surgeons experience when they share with civilians the traumatic shit they see—which would explain why doctors are only surrounded by other doctors.
Naturally, a new social media app will cure that “loneliness.” I found out about it when my doctor friend texted me the other day, “Have you heard about Figure1? It’s FOR YOU.” The last time I had seen him, he was studying for an endocrinology exam and I wouldn’t stop bugging him about baby testicles or what it was like to peel off his cadaver’s face.
Whether doctors are “adrenaline junkies” or “sadists,” human suffering is a reality! Our bodies are extremely vulnerable/versatile/resilient, and I’m glad that there is now a service (it’s almost exactly like Instagram) to document the fucked up things that nurses, technicians, surgeons, and physicians get to deal with on a daily basis.
I can’t share screenshots, so I’m going to explain to you—via illustrations and comments and my personal experience—a breakdown of my top five favorites. Let’s take a look:
Here is a visual of a mangled-up hand. There is a pinkie. The thumb looks like it’s mashed into the hand. The middle finger has been ripped off, and is hanging by some tendons. They’ve cleaned it up pretty nicely though. All of the blood for the most part has dried onto the skin. The hand is on a towel- limp and fucked up, but overall, it looks pretty salvageable.
Who posted this? A registered nurse. The little red star indicates 339 favorites on this photo. “Patient put hand through a tablesaw at work.” That’s it. That’s all the caption says.
Next we have the comments from another power saw injury. I’ll explain the injury first: Sitting on a cotton-drop cloth, the arm is delicately resting in white fluorescence. The bone has been separated between the hand and the wrist. Some muscle is gone, blood is flowing out of the arteries. He’s losing a lot of blood—will he be OK? I think so. They might just have to cut off his arm, or something. Then some professionals share their thoughts:
NocturnalDocsays (that checkmark signifies that he or she is a verified physician)
“100 percent extensor pollicis tendon laceration, and radical artery severed.”
There are 265 favorites. Six comments below:
issmithWhat did you do with this?
✓NocturnalDoc The tendon can be repaired primarily or delayed. If good collateral flow from the ulnar artery can be demonstrated (blood supply to the hand is redundant), the radial artery can be ligated. Some hand surgeons or micro vascular surgeons would repair the artery instead.
I take this to mean that basically, “We’re passing him along. He’s fine.”
LjashlineIs it all venous and soft tissues? No bone involvement?
I’m laughing really hard at: “No bone involvement.”
✓NocturnalDocVein, artery, nerve, and tendon all injured. The bone was not injured.
This arm looks like needs a fucking ass-patch or something—it looks rough. His arm is for sure going to look weird forever.
Another person uploaded a picture of some very disgusting, old dying feet. There’s a wheelchair over in the background.
There are lots of rules for uploading, so that’s nice. Administrators have to approve the photo to protect patient identities.
I digress. What the fuck is this disgusting foot exactly? It’s “Necrosis from pressors.” Flesh-eating bacteria just munchin’ away.
Next up is an X-RAY. There is an image of a spine with some hips, and a giant loopy wire hanging out in the middle, horizontally.
ollytangPsych patient who ingested her bra wires among other things.
mphard Were they able to get it out endoscopically or did they have to open her up?
ollytang I’m not sure, just referred it to surgeons and let them decide. You can also see the IVC filter… hope the surgeons didn’t think it was a foreign body as well.
Wow, this woman swallowed an IVC filter because she thought it was a “foreign body”— is that what that means?
Some other people debate about what the curled image actually is. People in medicine are just like you, just like us, they still argue in comments sections about unimportant details and completely miss the point of what’s going on. “Is it the bra wire or the IVC filter?”
imsrsly Prob the ivc filter. But anything can curl with a psych patient.
Ha! “Anything can curl with a psych patient.” Is that a joke? I actually can’t tell.
freaxie I’ve been an inpatient in psych wards in the US and they remove your bra wires from any bra you bring or you must forfeit the bra for the duration of your stay. lots of girls just bring sports bras after repeat stays.
Ooooouuufffff. What does “freaxie” do for a living? Now we have a real open dialogue.
“freaxie” is a “medical student” and she has one upload of an—arm? With the hashtag #ringworm next to it. The arm is glowing blue. I think maybe this user’s just here for the action. At first I thought, “Oh, it’s so nice that people with a history of mental illness can still succeed in medicine.” It’s great to get this perspective, anyway. I hope she is actually in med school and that is actually ringworm and I’m just being an asshole.
Last but not least is this beautiful fucking orthopedic hardware. It says “surgical repair with orthopedic hardware failure.”
How did it fail, you might ask?
“Lateral malleuolus was fractured beneath hardware upon sectioning. 2 gaping necrotic wounds on both the lateral and medial malleolus. Patient is young. Anterior/post tibial arteries show no conclusion or #Atherosclerosis.”
(Blah, blah, blah.)
Now people are asking how this happened. The user iheartautopsy says, “Lemme see if I can find anything else out today.”
You know what Figure 1? I wish we could see the timing. I wish we could see when people are posting these. But is that too much information to give away or something?
iheartautopsy“Youz will like this…Hx of diabetes. Noticed a problem at surgery site. Thought it would “take care of itself.” Several weeks later noticed a smell. Came in the get smell checked Doctors unwrapped to find gaping uclerations!”
Now everyone is freaking out about diabetes.
A nurse says, “Oh my Lord!”
Personally, I am interested in this fucking orthopedic hardware. It just looks like screws and metal, kind of in the shape of the bone. It’s kind of old school. It was a good try. If I was a surgeon I’d probably just it chop off right away. I’d be like, “Oh, your foot’s getting eaten up? Let’s get it rid of it, you don’t need that.”
Or I would figure out a way to counteract this fucking crazy flesh-eating bacteria. Why would you try to repair the bone? Was this patient not taking their antibiotics? So many mysteries.
I could spend an eternity on this app. I just wish I had the ability to follow different users. But the mystery can be nice. I just clicked on a random username and found a knife impalement. I wonder why someone stabbed this woman in the stomach. But guess what? It didn’t penetrate the peritoneum!!!
Access to this kind of discussion is really incredible. Everyone is learning. There are so many stories, on so many different levels. It’ll be nice when people start using it all over the world. Overall, I’m excited to see a place where people with passions other than music, fashion, food, or porn can get together and get nasty. Yum!!!