Friday, April 25, 2008

Pissed Happy Children

“These children know nothing about PHCs!”
“You are right, they think it stands for Personal Holding Company.”

“Let’s show them!”

And thus it came to be, that the Pancreas and her friends were released from the torture chamber at the Department of Community Medicine, and sent to live in a village.

The Pancreas, having experienced rustic village life previously, knew exactly what to do. She packed her whole room into a bag, and added the kitchen sink too, for good measure. There wasn’t much space left for clothes, but this did not worry her. She had been informed that the most she would be able to do at the end of the day would be to crawl into bed with a prayer of thanks.
“3 days, 2 dresses, and the one I’m wearing. This will be more than adequate.”
In retrospect, that was an extremely stupid notion.

The Pancreas could not lift her bag. But her friends could, and did. (She loves them all very much, and will be eternally grateful to Skoda, the A and Scarhead.)

The Pancreas was bewildered. Was this the village? The rural village on top of a hill in the middle of nowhere that they were posted in? But it had a shop that actually sold shampoo. Real shampoo, with Sunsilk written on the bottle in big, bold letters.

The Pancreas went to the PHC. She was surprised to see actual, honest-to-goodness patients there, and her eyeballs popped out and did a tango when she saw in-patients.

The Pancreas met some of the villagers. She went into their homes, and saw old ladies watching Ente Manasa Puthri [My Insane Daughter] on Asianet.
“Shampoo and mega serials on cable, this must be a city.”

The Pancreas made her way back to the convent they were going to stay in. This time, the tiles on the floor did not raise her eyebrows, but the toilet did. She nearly wept with joy when she saw that the toilet was better equipped than her own toilet back home.

The Pancreas flourished under the excellent food provided by the nuns. She was very happy, and decided to stay there forever.

The Pancreas had a teacher, known as Dr. Wick. Dr. Wick wanted the Pancreas and all her friends to become experts in SPM. Dr. Wick was loads of fun, and they all loved him, and so they decided to work. And how they worked! They conducted surveys among the people of the ‘village’, they interviewed patients in the PHC, they talked to doctors and nurses and pharmacists and drivers, they formulated health programmes and held discussions about the merits and demerits of immunisation programmes; they ate, slept and thought SPM. And it was fun. For the first time in their lives, they realised how SPM worked, and they were happy.

We had joy, we had fun
We held surveys in the sun.
But the hills that we climbed
Were so steep I had a fall*.

The Pancreas and her friends worked hard, and Dr. Wick was pleased with them.
“I shall take you to a lion safari park on our way back,” he said, and there was much rejoicing.

The Pancreas saw a lion, and four lionesses. The lion saw the Pancreas, and he smiled at her. The lionesses growled, and the lion returned to his den. She told her friends waiting in line about it, and they laughed at her.
“You checked the sex too?” and there was much guffawing. They returned subdued, because they hadn’t realised that lions had manes, and lionesses did not.

The Pancreas returned home, tired, but happy, and kissed her cat, and got scratched on her nose.

P.S: Some people think PHC stands for Primary Health Centre.
P.P.S: I hate Medical Entomology. I don't know, or care about, the species of mosquito feeding on my blood. I will zap them all with my AllOut mosquito repellent, and that's it. Gah.


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Happy Vishu

I am finally beginning to like SPM. Before the whole lot of you disown me for crimes against medicos, let me tell you the reason. We have one professor (just one, mind you) in the entire department who is genuinely interested in the subject and can successfully impart his enthusiasm to students. SPM can be interesting, provided your teacher has enough imagination to transform something as boring as the national tuberculosis control programme into something a medico in stage IV NREM sleep can relate to. I have enough of gumption to be horrified the thought of specialising in SPM, but that might have something to do with the way internal medicine calls to me, to use a corny phrase.

The Department of Community Medicine is one of the few departments that owns a LCD projector, and so we are now slowly succumbing to that bane of the corporate world- Death by PowerPoint. Every single one of us is required to present a previously assigned topic. This means that in addition to my own, I am also ‘requested’ to make presentations for some of the hosteller girls, since they are ‘not computer literate anyway’, leaving me with plenty of free time. I made at least five presentations for the clinico pathological correlation classes in (duh!) Pathology last year, for people I barely know, and from the look of it, I think history is about to repeat itself. It is a pleasure to help out only people like Eli, who doesn’t wear a gloating smile, thinking “Sucker!” while I agonise over design templates.

Next weekend will be spent at the primary health centre in some rural area. I am so looking forward to SPM lectures at eleven in the night. (Yes, yes, that was sarcastic.) The department has also promised an Exciting! Trip! to apprehend mosquitoes, cultivated in the campus specifically for this purpose. Dengue haemorrhagic fever, here I come!

The bag I carry to college these days can hold an elephant, and still have space left over for the kitchen sink. I am expected to take the Park, and the freakin’ heavy SPM record everyday. My back is going on strike from Thursday. I wonder what they’ll say to that.

My senior, Vanilla Chechi* got engaged last week. She was one of the house surgeons we chummed up with during the third year Medicine postings. There is something about inserting a nasogastric tube at three in the morning into a patient who is screaming at the top of his voice that we are trying to kill him that cannot but make friends of the brave (and sleep-deprived) souls who are involved in the matter. She was radiantly happy, and we got to see many of our seniors we hadn’t met in a long time. And also her husband to be. Who seemed very nice. I hope you’ll be very happy together.

I googled my friend’s name (a long lost one), and I find her picture on the internet IN THE NEWS, people. Jealous Curious, I googled my own name, and found something about Henoch-Schönlein purpura. I didn’t know that I had done a research paper on HSP, or that I had tuberculosis. I eventually concluded (with a heavy heart) that it probably wasn’t me. This highly talented doctor from Delhi also seems to write poetry, and then moonlights as a nuclear physicist in her spare time. Just to cheer myself up, I googled Adorable Pancreas, and found that four of the ten results on the first page were about me. Ah, fame.

This google train of thought led me to the ‘peculiar google searches’ station. It’s been a while since I did that, don’t you think? No? All right, if you don’t want to know about “medico – long underwear” and “perineum impalement torture” (OWWW!) I won’t force you. Still no? Not even for “the technition did not have gloves on while looking for vains”? Perhaps “written sex stories by medicos” will do the trick. That one got me a number of hits. No? Well, your loss, I say.

Happy Vishu, all! I’m off to set the Vishukkani. Which means I will stand around making uselesssuggestions while Amma arranges the vegetables and gold in front of a picture of Krishna. My role cannot be trivialised. And I shall get lots of money tomorrow. Yay!

*It’s considered disrespectful to address older people by their name. Chechi is the term of address for someone old enough to be a sister, and original older sisters. We Indians have strong ideas regarding respect.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Composting. And Also, Happy Birthday To Me.

I got a phone call from Skoda. She's brilliant, you know. She's the "another distinction here, please" type, topped the Ophthalmology exam (I scraped through, and I consider that a major miracle) and all. She wanted me (please note the point, me) to tell her the dose of salbutamol used for nebulisation. I felt like a real doctor then, and was very happy. (And also, a confidence trickster, but don't you worry about that.) And then I used my brain (what? I have one, complete with 2 cerebral hemispheres and a medulla oblongata.) and concluded that she was too upset to think.

Community medicine posting, also known as composting, is what I go through these days, where they do their best to put me into a coma. Apart form trying to kill me from shock (“YOU THERE, SLEEPING GIRL, TELL ME, WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A RANDOMISED CONTROL TRIAL AND A COHORT STUDY?” directly into my left ear while I *ahem* meditate about life in class), they are also doing their best to show me up as an idiot by making me present seminars (or whatever those things are called) on leptospirosis. It’s on Tuesday*, I think. And I have a zillion pages to fill up in my record, and learn statistics. Logistic regression and standard effing deviation. And I joined medicine because I hated maths. Aargh! SPM, I hate you.

The point of this post, peoples, is to tell you that I am very busy these days. When I am not sleeping in class studying statistics and acting as a senior consultant, I am busy staring at my new dress, which is the BEST DRESS ever. Um, did I mention that I am having a birthday? No? Well, uh, I turn the inconvenient age of twenty two next week. I feel like a septuagenarian staring death in the face. Then again, I get gifts, and I’m pretty sure they won’t be dentures, so I guess it’s not such a bad deal after all.

Like all mallus, I have two birthdays, and they rarely fall on the same day. My nakshathram (star) was last week, and I got payasam and a sadya. I also got one of the best birthday presents ever. If The KGB is reading this, it's you I am talking about. It was awesome! So, tell me about Sharon Stone. ;)

I need to go complete that stupid SPM record now. Damn!

*The D-day. Or B-day, which sounds really stupid.

PS: You can send me gifts if you like. Anything to take the sting out of the two twos. :)