Saturday, September 29, 2007

Resting in Pieces

Slowly, slowly. Yeah, like that. No sudden movements, please. There. Thanks. I'll be here for a while, you go ahead and take some time off. I'll yell if I need anything. Thanks for carrying me around.

My muscles are on strike. Including that tiny muscle with the weird long name. What is it? Levator palpebrae superioris alaeque nasi? I'm not sure. The fever's left me more or less paralysed. And the ENT people aren't helping at all. They insist on our arriving at 8.30 AM sharp and then refuse to let us leave before 12 PM. And we do. They use a sneaky underhand method for achieving this level of obedience. Attendance! Also, in order to build character, humility, endurance, and hatred for the department, they don't allow us to sit down at any point of time between 8.30 and 12.00. They sit in their OPD, they often perform the surgery sitting down, they lie down in between 2 procedures, but undergrads sitting down? A glare is unleashed every time someone rests against the window sill.

Since I can't protest against the ******* department, my muscles have shown their displeasure by refusing to support my weight beyond 12 o'clock. My weary unit mates can be seen carrying out a limp body everyday after class. They put it inside an auto rickshaw and instruct the driver to take it home. He calls the body's parents after he reaches the destination, and the body's parents, giving anguished cries like "Ayyo ente moley.... Tumhe kya hua?" (Ayyo my daughter, what happened to you?) et al, carry it inside and attempt to feed it. The thing gives a few croaks after a while, signifying the end of the meal, and is then put on a bed. Meanwhile, the auto driver, who had been waiting for his fare to be paid all this time, barges in and demands his money. The body's father sadly parts with his cash and starts weeping. After a few hours of immobilty, the body suddenly sits up and starts talking, and the entire family gathers around it. "I am hungry. I want food. I am hungry. I want food." Amazed by the quick recovery, they soon ply it with food, after which it goes back to its former states, and gets up for food later. It is again fed, and everyone goes to sleep, because by then it's bedtime. The body wakes up fresh and relaxed the next day, and goes off for ENT posting. There it is again tortured, and the sad cycle repeats itself.

I would have done anything had the subject been interesting. I've thrown in 14 hours a night during my Medicine (and Surgery) postings, staying nights and all, rushing around the ward, pockets bulging with needles, syringes, tourniquets, cotton, with the satisfaction of actually doing something, and going home the next morning bursting with energy. This 'zimbly standing' business is getting on my nerves. There is nothing we can do to help, and we don't want to, either. ENT sucks. I haven't hated a subject more, unless it's Orthopaedics. And maybe Ob-G. But Obs was at least interesting, if not fun, although Gynaec more than made up for any interest we may have felt for the subject, with the Family Planning posting reinforcing our decision to stay away from Ob-G as a whole.

I must be the only person who actually looks forward to final year, because it means I can go back to Medicine. It will be hectic, exhausting, taxing, worrying, and a lot of other things, but it will be Medicine.

Here come the pall bearers. Back to bed now.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


The ENT postings have started. Ear, Nose, & Throat, or Otorhinolaryngology, in more complicated words. There are only 3 units, and I'm in E3, which, for some obscure reason is called E2A. A unit is like the functional unit (pun not intended) of a clinical department. The General Medicine, General Surgery, and Ob-Gyn departments have 6 each, Paediatrics has 5, Orthopaedics has 4, ENT has 3, and so on. The number of units depends on the size of the department. Each unit is headed by a chief, other teachers, and some PG students. It has its own admission day, theatre day, blah day, and blah blah day. So when we undergrads are posted in a department, we're put in different units. So I said goodbye to Twin and A and Small and joined Skoda to venture into the unknown realms of the ENT OT. That's right, Operation Theatre. I get to wear the green dress and all. The 'all' consists of a cap, a mask and a pair of bathroom chappals. The gown and chappals are our own, and the chappals are never worn outside the theatre. The cap and mask are kept outside our changing rooms, and are disposable.

There are 10 of us in a unit, and only 4 of us were present. Pretty good turnout, actually, only 1 girl and all of the guys absent. So Skoda, Arch, Hope and I rushed into the OT bursting with excitement to see the procedures. Yeah, right. We sat around in the changing room discussing Skoda's new shoes, what Irritant (that's the most irritating guy in the Universe) had said to Small the other day, how I looked like a zombie interrupted from my eternal sleep (good description, 8-30 is an unearthly hour to show up at college) and how Hope hadn't eaten any of the crap passed off as food at the hostel and other matters of international importance. After a while, we decided the OT needed to be inspected and ranked on our coolness meter, and went in.

It was a very uncool theatre. Now the surgery OT is cool. 2 tables per room, those lights we see in the movies, lots of people rushing about, and most importantly, the air conditioning actually works. This one is just one room and 3 tables, with small lights worn by the operating surgeon on his headband (let's face it, an ear surgery does not need as much light as an abdominal one) in a tropical forest.

We decided to watch an frontal osteoma being removed, since none of us could figure what the ENT people are doing removing osteomas, which is a bone tumour. I thought it was done by orthopaedic surgeons or general surgeons. It was done under local anaesthesia, and the patient was conscious and talking to us throughout. I was ecstatic to note that when they reached the periosteum, I recognised it as the periosteum. Yay for me! I'm improving. Uusually, when I watch a surgery being done, I recognise only 2 things, blood, and some-tissue-or-the-other. After about an hour of standing in the same spot, I started losing concentration and began leaning on Skoda. I soon realised it was not concentration I was losing, it was consciousness, and had Skoda take me out and put me on a bed in the doctor's room. Anyone who makes stupid jokes about this will be made to walk the plank after being shot through the heart with a shotgun at close range. I've never fainted in the theatre before. I have a good stomach. Let's see you assessing the damaged area in a patient who's left leg got ripped away by a train without a single wince. I'm not a squeamish wimp.

I believe the attack of no-blood-to-the-brain (latest evidence has confirmed that I do have one) had something to do with a patient on the other table who was taking a hell of a long time to come out of anaesthesia. I thought she was dead, and I think I empathised with her at some point. Contrary to popular belief, death during an operation is very uncommon. I've never seen a single death happen on the operating table. I guess the sight of that girl's eyes rolling about in her head while the anaesthesiologist kept telling her to breathe deeply freaked me out. She was perfectly OK, but this voice in my head kept screaming "She's dead. Oh My ******* G0d She's DEAD. SHE'S DEAD. OH MY ******* GOD SHE'S ******* DEAD." over and over at increasingly higher frequencies until my brain imploded.

I lay on the bed for a while, holding Skoda's hand. I think the combined effect of standing still for an hour, the patient on the other table, and my fever (I had a slight throat infection) plus the lack of breakfast was what did it. I never lost consciousness, by the way. Soon Arch brought in Hope and deposited her next to me. I had company. Hope has some problems with venous return, and she can't stand in one place for more than an hour without blacking out. Hope and I lay next to each other and talked for a while, when we heard voices outside. The guys had arrived! All 5 of them! An unprecedented event. Stubble (the guy never shaves), Irritant, Lotus, Wrestler (he looks like Hulk Hogan) and a nondescript individual I shall call Brown. That brought the turnout to 90%! The M2 would have been proud of us. Only Eli was missing, and she had rang me up to say she was attending a wedding and would not be coming.

The osteoma excision finished, the surgeon came out and we got a class on tonsillectomy, where I displayed my usual prowess at gundadi. Gundadi is a traditional art form, practised by medicos all over the world, when asked a question. The classic example of gundadi deals with a student who was asked where his anatomical snuff box was. He replied that he had forgotten it at home, and would bring it the next day without fail. Gundu keeps me alive, and is not be frowned upon. I am known by various names, Gundu Queen being one of them. Gundu is pronounced like mundu, not gund-ooh, which means 'plump person'.

My mom had a fit when she heard I fainted, and kept me at home the next day. My throat infection is now a full blown gale force cough and upper respiratory infection. I'm on antibiotics. I'm sick of politely laughing to the 'Doctors fall ill too? Hahahahaha' lame joke. I warn you, I have a bazooka.

Psst. Anyone miss me? Exams, post exam revelry and an 18 hour workshop over the weekend, on 'Problem Solving for Better Health', kept me busy.

Monday, September 17, 2007

HP and the Pharmacologist's Mortar

"Ah, yes. Hadorable Pancreas. Our new- celebrity."

HP cringed in her seat. Sympathetic friends patted her arm, while some parasympathetics sniggered behind their hands.

"Pancreas!" said Nape suddenly. "What would I do if I wanted my patient to get dilated pupils for a fundus examination?"

"Dilated what for a what examination?"

HP glanced at A, who looked just as stumped as she was; Twin's hand had shot into the air.

"I don't know, Sir."

Nape's lips curled into a sneer.

"Tut, tut- clearly ignoring the textbook isn't everything. Thought you wouldn't open a book before coming, eh, Pancreas? Don't look at me as if you are cycloplegic. The answer is Atropine, which, apart from being a mydriatic, is also a potent cycloplegic. Well? Why aren't you all copying that down?"

HP hated her Potions classes. Her weapons against the enemy she'd sworn to fight was turning out to be her nemesis. There were times she felt like hurling her Goodman out the window, with Gillman thrown in for good measure.. ANS, CNS, CVS, GIT, PNS... Her life seemed to be composed of 3 letter words. ANS was definitely the worst. First of all, while looking for her notes, she was overheard saying "I can't find my ANS." (Say A-N-S out loud, and you have it.) Secondly, it was plain boring. Thirdly, it was vast. Fourthly, it was boring. Wait, I already said that. So these are 3 reasons why HP hated ANS. And Potions, because without Potions, there would be no ANS. Or CNS, or PNS, or CVS, or GOK what else.

And the potions themselves. HP could bottle saline, brew calamine lotion, even stopper fever, but these are all extincter-than-the-dinosaurs procedures. Any Muggle who needed a Potion could just walk into a store and buy it, ready made. Heck, even HP did it that way. But You-Know-Who decreed that the Potions exercises will enable the young wizards to appreciate the problems their ancestors (read Early Man) went through in the past, making potions, labelling and dispensing them (to dinosaurs). Monumental waste of time, HP thinks.

Nape was a pleasant surprise. Nape loved the students! Nape would go out of his way to help students who were having trouble with Potions, and the students loved him back.

But now, Nape has left Ogwarts Medical College, and is now being forced to teach Potions to the delinquents at Durmstrangs. HP would like nothing better than to have Nape back at Ogwarts during her OWLs, but You-Know-Who has different ideas.

Being a natural idiot at Potions, HP is left with just one thing to do. Study.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

War Bulletin

Good evening.
The latest report on the 'Viva Wars', brought to you by Adorable Pancreas.

Although of the initial reports were of the of peace talks being successful, they were proved to be as false as a waltzing kangaroo when our war correspondent, AP, reached the front. The peace-loving soldiers were preparing for battle, holstering their hall tickets, and confirming that they had clean uniforms on. A spy from the enemy camp confirmed that the enemies favoured the weapon known as CLIP (clinical pathology). AP immediately urged the soldiers to tell her more about the CLIP, but was drawn into battle herself when she heard that it was actually a weapon of mass destruction involving urine and blood.

The Battle of Pathology was fought in the Pathology Laboratory, and our brave correspondent, AP, was one of the last soldiers to be called up. Sgt. AP, can you please tell us about your encounter with the WoMD called CLIP?

AP: I was mortally afraid when I heard of the CLIP. Soldiers such as Sgt. Twin tried to prepare me to deal with it, but I became aware of its power when I entered the battle and saw Sgt. A fighting a losing battle with a urinometer. I do not think I've ever been as scared as when I was called up for urine. I was made to chemically analyse the urine component of CLIP. I do not know how I managed to complete it. But somehow, I managed to that part of CLIP without too many injuries.

Good for you, Sgt. AP. What happened next?

AP: Little did I know that worse things were to follow the urine. I was made to make a peripheral smear from the blood kept in a penicillin bottle. My hands were shaking so much that my smear looked like a caterpillar. The enemy jeered at me, and I regret to say, I got mortally wounded.

We are so sorry to hear that, Sergeant. What did you do?

AP: I had to sworn to fight for the noble cause, that is, finishing off the *&%$#@ exams! Dragging my useless leg (that's where I got shot), I managed to reach the Blood Typing front. The enemy stationed there was not a local one, but his fame had travelled far and wide. He was supposed to be the greatest CLIP warrior ever!

Oh, my God! Do you mean General Anaesthesia?

AP: No, it was President CLIP Bush.

OH, MY GOD! AP! Are you still alive?

AP: Yeah. And I am proud to say that I floored President Bush. It cost me an arm and a leg, but I managed to escape without sustaining any major injuries. Other than the arm and the leg, that is.

Congratulations, Sergeant. So you finished Urine, Blood, and Blood Typing. That leaves only the... Oh, no.

AP: Yess.... The peripheral smear reporting.

I hate to ask you this, but our ratings are more important. What did you do?

AP: Your ratings are not more important. I cannot bring myself to relive the horror.

Yes, yes. Whatever.

AP: *sob*

You deserve a bravery award. Happy?

AP: Yes, I do, you know. *sob*

There, there. It's over now.

AP: It shall haunt me forever.

Err... Let's change the topic. What about the spotting?

AP: MOMMY! I want to see my Mommy. MOMMYYY....

Oh, forget the spotting. How was the Battle of the Viva I?

AP: Good. Bad. Ugly. Uterus.


AP: The 4th enemy was surrounded by glass jars containing uteri. By the use of extreme cunning, stealth, and intelligence, I've managed to obtain a photograph of one of the uteri.

I have serious doubts regarding the ability of our loyal audience to tolerate such gruesome sights. Don't send it.

AP: I already have.

That isn't so bad. Adenomyosis, isn't it?

AP: Yeah. *sigh*

Thank you, Sgt. AP. Moving onto our sports segment, we have the 20/20 match between West Indies and South Africa. Our special correspondent, AP, is on the scene right now. AP, who won the toss?

AP: What the *beep*? Cricket? Don't you barking morons know I have to bomb the Forensic Labs tomorrow? Jeez. Never worked for a more inefficient bunch before. I QUIT!

Err... Certain 'technical problems' force us to end this bulletin right now. We'll be back, with more reports-

AP: Don't count on it.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Identifcation Parade

Do you know what this is?

Neither do I.

Exams next week, peoples.