“Beep, beep, beep…” I rolled over in bed to grab my pager off the dresser and flashing on the luminescent screen was the number to the ER. It was 2 am and I was tired, but my heart was racing. Two days into my intern year and I was on facial trauma call at Stony Brook University Medical Center in NY.
“Hello, is this OMFS?”
“Yes” I responded scrambling for a pen and notepad.
“I have a 50 year old male here in the trauma bay. He was an unrestrained passenger of a car involved in a high speed motor vehicle accident. He was intubated on the scene and brought to us via helicopter. GCS is 6. He has left pneumothorax, multiple C spine fractures, an epidural hematoma, multiple facial fractures and a laceration that won’t stop bleeding. Can you come by and take a look?”
Trauma is an exciting part of our specialty. The injuries can be gruesome and resemble scenes from a horror movie. The stories surrounding the injuries can be filled with drama, sometimes tragic and occasionally very bizarre. Bar fights, car accidents, elderly falls, suicide attempts, domestic abuse, sports injuries, and pranks gone wrong. Some life lessons I have learned in residency: never stand behind a horse and never look down a fireworks launcher after it has been lit. Managing both hard and soft tissue injuries and putting back together a patient’s face after it is destroyed beyond recognition can be challenging. It is also incredibly rewarding. The skills and experience we have obtained from trauma surgery has carried over to orthognathic surgery, bone grafting, dental implants, TMJ surgery and cosmetic surgery. It is the foundation of our specialty and has enabled the dentist to be integral member of the hospital. For this reason, I continue to treat facial trauma patients at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center and Kaiser Fontana Medical Center. It also keeps my heart racing.
Christopher Choi DDS, MD, FACS