Thursday, August 11, 2011

All in a day's work

3M Littmann 3128 Cardiology III Stethoscope, Black, 27 inchWe are humans with animal instincts routed in our subconscious minds.
A couple of days back I asked a colleague of mine, Dr.Shaal “ Is this normal”.
He stood in front of me and cocked his head on one side thinking for 30 seconds before saying “No its not”.
It all started just like any other day in my department. We had the usual patients with abdominal problems and trauma, but no hectic red code. I had just finished checking a patient and was busy writing a plan of treatment for the patient and ordering some bloods when I was called for a patient who had collapsed after being assaulted. I saw the nurses hooking up the monitor to this new patient and saw she was frothing at the mouth and seemed unconscious. She had a bandage on her right forearm. My experience and gut told me she was suffering from hysteria but given the fact she seemed to be unconscious and was frothing and spitting I had to rule out other causes of her condition. I tried calling her and informing her where she was but with no response. I tried shaking her shoulder and still no response. By then Dr.Shaal had joined me and I applied pressure on her sternum with my knuckle once and she moved a bit. I gave a history of the patient to him while I tried again putting pressure with my knuckle on her sternum. All I can say is that one minute I am standing next to her the next she is sitting up and screaming and holding my left arm in a tight grip and her other hand is pulling on my jacket collar . The zip of my jacket digs into my neck and slowly I find myself struggling to breath , my head turned away from patient but too late as her spittle makes a beeline for my right eye.I remind myself that this a patient and I cannot be offensive with her. Soon I start seeing stars in front of me and by now I hear voices in a distance. Someone is trying to unzip my jacket but its zipper is stuck, finally I manage to get out of my jacket thanks to my colleague , the intern and my nurses. Dr Shaal asks me if I am fine and I tell him I am absolutely fine only to feel a burning sensation on the left side of my neck where a wound is beaded with my blood. By now the patient is fully awake and doesn’t remember anything of the incident. I inform her that she is fine now and she is in the hospital. By now Dr. Shaal has got an iv in her left arm and we open her bandage on her right forearm to find 3 scratch marks on her forearm! The nurses laugh it out trying to lighten the mood. I decide not to inform the patient about her actions as I can see she was also a victim of an attack and needs reassurance. I carry on checking other patients. Then take a break to send a message to the hospital manager informing him about the incident as per protocol. As the day goes by I feel tired , all my adrenaline spent. I go to the doctors room and splash my face with cool water . I stare at myself in the mirror and am shocked to see two tears escaping my eyes. I stand there taking deep breaths and cannot understand my reaction. This has never happened to me before.Apart from the foul language from an intoxicated patient, I have been shoved against a wall in the ER, I have been slapped on my arms and my bum at work and my eyes have never betrayed me before. I have held the hands of patients as they slipped away from severe trauma, I have seen children and adults with traumatic amputations and GSW to heads with brains oozing out and GSW to face with face split open …..and many many why now!I remember another colleague of my mine who was slapped on the face by a relative and how he too remained passive due to the Hippocratic oath. I clean myself up and get my file and go to occupational health to fill in forms. As I sit there doing paper work I see the same patient walking arm in arm with a friend to the pharmacy. Ironic I think. I sign the last form and stand up to leave when I see my husband standing at the door. Then I remember he had Imed me to see how I was and I had told him I would talk to him later. I can see he is concerned and angry. This is the last thing I need right now. I know its going to be a looong day for me. On route I bump into my Chief and I am touched with the concern in his eyes. I know he is wondering the same thing as I am...what is my husband doing here. I tell him that I had missed his phone calls and he got concerned and came to check on me. I didn't think he would understand if I told him that my husband had a bad feeling about me the whole morning and after my message just rushed to see me. At that time I couldn't understand my husbands reaction towards this patient. I just kept on evading him from the patient as I could see the blood in his eyes. Thats when I asked Dr.Shaal if it was normal what had happened to me....and he said no. It was then that I realised the wide gap between doctors and normal human beings. We as doctors are so used to detaching our emotions from ourselves at work that some of us forget the off doctor switch. We start to think our spouses are like us and hence cannot fathom why they show such intense emotions.We become handicapped without emotions. We forget to be humans. I thank God that my better half is always there to anchor me during the worst storms at work. I thank my colleague for being there and more importantly for saying that one word that reminded me about my off switch.
After this incident I sat at home looking at my arm which still bore the bruises from the patients hand grip. I sat and thought about how my life would have been if I had stuck to being a computer programmer and not a doctor. I would have had more kids and more time on my hands, maybe work as a freelance from home. Would I have been happier? I found myself reaching for my phone to check out when was my next shift. Thats when it hit me...I had my dream kept me on my toes and everyday is like going on a new adventure.  

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Poet's dependence

Fisher Space Pen, Bullet Space Pen, Chrome Finish, Gift Boxed (400)
This pen has become rusty with age,
It needs consistent companionship of a hand,
Lest it rust in rest,
Best for it is turmoil and work,
I fear when it stops to display a comma or an apostrophe,
Especially the full stop cuts my breath,
I fear to be deserted once again,
The last experience I could barely take,
The lines it carves in my blood,
Make my way to dusty death,
In it lies my destiny,
For what is destiny without a friend?
All the pages of my life it bled,
Are a proof of its faithfulness,
Sometimes I wonder a cage is it? Or its me?
My dependence on it answers this,
But then it has become rusty with age,
It too needs consistent companionship of a hand.

Copyright ©2009  Dr.Q
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We didn't start the fire?!

A friend of mine from the USA told me a couple of days back that there was another tornado warning for her area. This being a second episode that I had come across for her area I told her that maybe it was time for them to move out of that area. Then she said” where to?”
Yes that’s a major question that confronts any homemaker…where to go, where to settle, where to raise a family. It was all nice a dandy when we were kids… all these questions our parents or guardians took care of and we just went with the flow enjoying the little things in life. Now the world has become much smaller what with the media, twitter, facebook and many more advancements boring a hole in our stomachs. Giving us sleepless nights. Let’s face it most of us will tweet or use some form of technology before going to bed. I know I do and have to break this habit…a work in progress.
We are handicapped with our own inventions. Our fingers will soon become stronger than our legs and a new species will be born…that is if we don’t kill each other before then.
So as I was saying where can we go to settle down. Every time I think of buying another property to settle rather than as an investment this is the dilemma I face. I cannot find any place on earth which isn’t being threatened either by a natural disaster or by man’s ignorance and hatred.
Now let’s take South Africa as an example. It is truly heaven on earth. Where on earth will you find such diversity in fauna and verdure. Where on earth will you find so much forest and greenery still bearing the brunt of humanity and winning. A country with a beautiful horizon and landmarks and a smashing weather forecast that makes you want to sing every day. A country where you wake up with the beautiful chirping gossip of such colorful birds as you have never seen before. But alas our days here are short. You cannot take long walks after the sunsets without being hounded by shadows which lurk ready to cut your pockets and throats without an ounce of mercy. These shadows seem to become braver everyday and some have taken to daytime hunting. Bullets flay in towns hurting innocent people as police go hunting for these shadows. Hijackings go bad frequently with patients swarming in with high caliber GSWs.
Yes you start a family in this world yet you cannot keep them safe…..America being swept with their lot of tornadoes and heat waves. Tsunamis sweeping in from all sides. Volcanoes erupting their galore. Earthquakes crumpling some of our spirits. Revolutions shaking countries foundations. Draughts sucking our lives out…..and on and on it goes.
Innocent Monster
Sir Billy Joel put it very well in his song “WE didn’t start the fire”:
Ø  "Wheel of Fortune", Sally Ride, heavy metal, suicide,
Foreign debts, homeless vets, AIDS, crack, Bernie Goetz,
Hypodermics on the shores, China's under martial law,
Rock and roller cola wars, I can't take it anymore

We didn't start the fire
But when we are gone
Will it still burn on, and on, and on, and on

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Cup of Coffee with a King

There are reasons why certain things have a more profound impact in our lives than others. There are reasons why we tend to remember our tragedies more easily than the good times in our lives. It’s for survival.
Fred & Friends Fisticup Metallic-Handled Ceramic Mug For survival we remember that touching a hot steaming cup of coffee can burn us. Same way tragic events are imbedded into our nervous system to be easily accessed to prevent future calamity and hence for our survival. We have to teach ourselves everyday to remember the good in our life. Whereas  when asked what was our worst experience a light bulb starts flashing immediately on top of our heads and we start prating away the list of horrible things that have led us to be as we are now. But it’s not only the bad that has happened to us that make us. We are who we are not because of the experience but because of the way we let these experiences make us feel.
There was a time when someone screaming at me would have made my blood boil into my eyes till I saw red….yes those teenage years when you are hormonally challenged more than ever. Days when most teenagers journals would read as follows:
“Oo thorn burrow so fast
Thorn burrow deep
My finger move not alas
As I lay in a heap
Of agony and turmoil
Twisting pain rising up bile
As the anger plots schemes so foil
Avenge thee I will and then smile
Till then a dark mask for my face
Hover I will like death fallen from grace”.

 No amount of education be it from your high school or college or university, teaches us how to manage life and our emotions in a constructive way. We learn it along our meandering path of life and die still learning. Our MBA’s, MDs, PhDs stand no chance in weathering this life successfully if we cannot learn the most important thing in life that no normal school teaches. Our daily newspaper or news stations on TV are a testimony to that. WE very easily fall for the easy way out to explain our short comings…our short fuses. And our usual explanation is that “We are humans”. What we forget is that every species must evolve for survival. Every species must improve itself, must learn the most important lesson of life...  A lesson that holds the answer to all our riddles, to control our feelings and reactions. They say “He is King who can conquer his own mind”. So are you "him"?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Punch

There are reasons why doctors go to the gym. To the lay person we give the excuse that its good for the health and increases our stamina therefore makes us perform better at our jobs. To me it is all about watching  my feet running on the tread mill. The steady thump thump of my footsteps as I am jogging my heart to a monotonous music  puts me in a trance. Then comes the step machine which always seems like a piece of cake to me till I have passed the 5 minutes notch when a fire starts raging in my chest… legs crave for more n my chest always battles to keep up in between the gulps of cool water running down my throat.  Then a few minutes further I know I have to stop when I no longer feel the cool trickle down my throat. Water just hisses and evaporates in my chest ……my head seems light n I float off the machine and find myself gliding towards the rowing machine. By this time I am in the perfect state of mind….hypnotized….just what the doctor ordered. Thereafter I am oblivious to anyone around me save for the drumming in my ears…its voodoo music. I am reminded I am in Africa….no sorry South Africa. Where outside people, including my overseas friends, think people still live in trees and still bash women in the head and drag them off for a night cap. A place where lions roam freely and elephants are the means of transport. Food is wild game and leaves are the in fashion.
Then I see someone slamming a punching bag. I watch the biceps tense with each punch and I know it feels good. It feels good to be alive. Its nice to have a punching bag close at hand. One punch for the slow coach on the fast lane, wasted 10 minutes of my time to work.  One punch for the  lady putting makeup in her car….I know I will be checking her in A&E(Accident & Emergency department) soon. One punch for every arm hanging out of a car window…..they too will be coming to A&E . One punch for the guy talking on his cellphone while crossing the road…I did see him in A&E. One punch for the guy who always parks in my paid parking bay. One punch for the patient coming to A&E and refusing treatment wasting other patients time. One punch for every “F” word uttered by a patient. One punch for a specialist’s consult on the phone who refuses to come out for a patient. One punch for the specialist who came out just to confirm my diagnosis and wrote no notes and asked me to do his job as he is too busy with 2 cases in theater….when the A&E was busy! One punch for the lurking escort sneaking behind me every minute and not listening to the staff or guards. One punch for the punch on my colleague’s face.
Yes we all go to the gym for all good reasons.
We are doctors and we have to set an example to society and do no harm. We punch in the gyms and come nice and hypnotized by the Hippocratic oath to work.  … be a punching bag for others….IRONIC!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Global Recession

To the many people who are reaching for their safes or beneath your beds for the feel of that cold hard metal that you think is the solution to your problems...think again.
I used to hate the used to fill my mouth with the bitter taste of bile...I used to hate checking my bank are a doctor and are supposed to be filthy rich. By filthy rich I mean Angelina-filthy rich. You should have an army of adopted children...besides your own. Atleast 3 children from every country in the world...Atleast 5 cars parked off in your garage. Atleast 3 mansions. And no name brands are out of the question.  Everything actually was going smoothly initially for doctors....we could see that glittering future at the horizon. We knew if we stuck around for 10 years in public hospitals or private soon we would be able to retire if we wished....then came the RECESSION.
I think I am handicapped when it comes to financial IQ. I could not understand why global recession would have such an impact on us. After all its just something broadcasted on BBC and everyone is supposed to believe it and accept it. We are supposed to accept it as an excuse for increasing cost of living and taxes and the poor service delivery. Infact if anything goes wrong in your life you blame it on global recession...If any one complains about your attitude ...its global recession...if you havent paid your road fine its because of recession... if your husband forgets to get bread on his way from work...its because of global recession....
I think recession is a good excuse to blame our short comings on. Its the steam from our pressure cookers.
SO instead of twisting our guts into knots and bows whenever we check out our bank balances, think of recession...and how it has helped us...........atleast with good jokes and laughs.