Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Healer of the Abyss

I am still in shock. I came out of the coma yesterday, but I haven’t yet recovered fully. Skoda is still out, with a GCS score of 4. We were the only witnesses, and I don’t think either of us could relive the experience. *shudder*

In a moment of misguided enthusiasm, we decided that we would go to the casualty after classes, on our admission day, to have a Live! experience of how patients are treated in an emergency setting. Arch and Hope, and Skoda and I trotted off to the Orthopaedics casualty. The guys in my unit are bats. Skoda and I are deer.

Our first impression on entering the Orthopaedics casualty was that we had somehow entered a men’s club by mistake. 6 of the members stared at us like we were extra terrestrials, complete with green skin, antennae, and white coats. Then they recognised us as 4th year students, smiled and invited us in. My, what a lot of teeth you have, Grandma.

Dramatis personae
1 duty medical officer- a doctor employed by the medical college in the Department of Orthopaedics, known as Sir
4 PG students- MBBS graduates who have crossed the post graduate entrance hurdle, doing their residency in orthopaedics, known as PG Chettan
1 house surgeon- a glorified manual labourer who has passed his final year, and is allowed to be addressed as doctor to satisfy his ego, but has not yet received his MBBS degree, known as HS Chettan
2 undergraduate students- 2 sacrificial lambs who had no idea what was in store for them, known as AP and Skoda
Patients- I don’t know why they are called that, impatients would have been a better term for most of them. After a while, a few became inpatients.

Boy, was it crowded. All the old people in the area seemed to be using the bathroom only to slip and fall, while the younger ones were getting drunk and having accidents. The children, in the absence of adult supervision, climbed trees and fell from them. This is the Ortho casualty in a nutshell. Full of nuts. Not counting me, of course.

Things became really hectic, and Skoda and I got drafted. I held arms and legs while PG Chettans bandaged them. My new dress and I, both of us got covered in plaster of Paris. But we didn’t mind, because it did feel a little like we were helping, almost like we were real doctors.

It was some time before we noticed the byplays. At first we took it for some sort of tribal ritual. It then dawned on us that we were the first females to observe males in the wild, on their territory. I refuse to elaborate on the details, suffice to say that I have been scarred for life. Some might call it insights into the psychological profile of males, but it felt more like a lesson on the habits of Wild Animals, that goes by the innocuous sounding name of male bonding. Testosterone is poison.

I have informed my parents of my decision to marry a blue wildebeest called Ramu. He is an absolute darling, who occasionally has trouble controlling his temper. Nothing I can’t handle with some alfalfa and TLC.

I can say that my already considerable respect for Orthopaedics has gone up several notches. You can’t help but admire their sturdiness and perseverance. Who would have guessed that all those apparently bird boned PG Chettans had so much strength? Why is it so hot around here all of a sudden? And who on earth is Ramu?

One of the patients was a very old man; he reminded me very strongly of my grandfather. He was disoriented (Alzheimer's?) and had a fractured hip. I had to hold his legs while they drilled his bone to insert a pin for the skeletal traction. He kept calling his son, whose name just happened to be the same as my uncle’s. I rarely have trouble keeping myself detached, but he got to me. Dammit, he looked Achachan. Why can’t my heart just pump blood when I’m in the hospital?

Objectivity is an invaluable asset. How else can a neonatologist not resuscitate a child born with anencephaly (clicking on the link is strongly discouraged if your last meal was less than 6 hours ago) struggling to breathe? The parents could not afford a scan, and the developmental anomaly was detected only at birth. You can’t take pity on the mother and help her child live a little longer, the child will not survive, and you’ll only be prolonging its miserable existence. Maybe euthanasia should be legalised.

I heart the casualty, at any rate. I'm definitely going back next week, but this time they are in for a surprise. Oestrogen pills cunningly dissolved in coffee. I'm going to have a great time.


Tys on Ice said...

whtever said and done, i cannot help but admire u..eventhough u r in love with a buffalo called Ramu...i really dont think there ever was a heartless doctor...u guys wudnt hve chosen this field if not for your empathy...pls dont tell me its for the money, coz we all know how much a doc makes considering u will hve to spnd all ur life spending money to learn the latest stuff...

kinda know wht tht old man must hve gone thru..had external fixtures on my legs whn i broke it..kinda cool set up..but bone being drilled is the most weirdest experience ...not the most painful, just the most yukkist feeling, like black boards being scratched..

Sreejith said...

dear oh deer... maybe you are a rat living among deer and hence think of yourself as a deer? You could really be a rat...think about it ;))

Keshi said...

**He kept calling his son, whose name just happened to be the same as my uncle’s.

thats so touching...I can u'stand how u must hv felt...


Spunky Monkey said...

Our Casualty Department has a really hot Senior Resident (I think that's what she is; for all the love we have for her, she could well be President). Most of the hooligans that anyway make up any casualty ward have softened in order to score with Her Hotness. She was among the people involved in my jaw stitching up drama.

ToOothlEss WOndeR! said...

tht's why i never wanted to be a doctor, i guess.
every two days you come across something which makes you think euthanasia should be legalised.

my dentist and my doctor are two guys i completely hate. the dentist for the funny things he puts in my mouth, and the doctor for the funny questions he asks me.

but your blog is doing smething wonderful: I believe it is teaching me respect - and I suppose I'll smile at the doctor guy the next time i see him.

Di said...

yeah dear...i believe so much of the sense in euthanasia too :( Its heart breakin to see people sufferin with no hope of recovery :(

tangled said...

My Lord. You are by far one of the funniest persons I've ever read.

Please add a link to an impersonal email address so I don't have to make embarrassing comments like this in public.

Tea N. Crumpet said...

I have had horrible experiences with doctors and wanted to be one, but my calling is to teach. My experiences with doctors were so bad that the ones who I heralded as "great" were mildly polite and didn't try to (noticeably) kill anyone while on duty. I recently met a truly good one who is a master of communicating with his patients-- both ways!

You write very well. I think you will be very good at communicating with your patients, too. This was my first trip to your blog and I can't wait to read more.

the stygian sailor said...

" house surgeon- a glorified manual labourer who has passed his final year, and is allowed to be addressed as doctor to satisfy his ego, but has not yet received his MBBS degree"
the truth has been said.
they practice the damned ludovico technique on the house surgeons.

Adorable Pancreas said...

@tys on ice:
There are heartless doctors, I assure you. Take a look at the notice board where they put up our marks. You'll see what I mean. My friend flunked the last test by the quarter of mark.
I had a heart attack the first time I saw a patient on external fixators. It looked like something out of a bad sci-fi movie.

Rat sometimes disguises himself as a deer. Like the wolf in sheepskin. But among Rat's many talents is impersonation of other creatures. I do that well, don't I?

I stared at the ceiling while they did the rest of it. It was pretty bad for me, and the old man.

@spunky monkey:
Did she go 'Yu naatti' when she stittched you up? Or was it just in your head?

@toothless wonder:
I hate dentists too. Mine is a sadistic who would have been a high ranking official in the Gestapo in his previous life.
They tell us to think as doctors every time someone gets upset on seeing something horrible, which is another way of saying 'leave your humanity at home'. It's true, I guess. You can't have too much empathy on the job.

I totally understand. I hate to say this, but if it were to be legalised, we would have a lot of misuse, this being our country. It's one of the main reasons most doctors are against mercy killing.

You mean the fee? Dammit, I said it out loud.

@tea n. crumpet:
Yeah, it is a calling. :) I wanted to be a teacher once, but I realised there was nothing else I wanted this badly.
Thank you.
I hope you become a great teacher.

@stygian sailor:
Errand boy is a better term. Training, they call it. Bah!