Archive for December, 2011

03
Dec
11

Being There, Doing That.

It’s been a while, and again, I think I have lost ‘touch’.

Also, that means this one’s going to be long.

So well, since the last I bothered blogging, a new term’s started, and is about to end in less than two weeks from today. That now begs the question, why on earth would I be blogging now of all times? Maybe, with the exams around my brain’s functioning again, or maybe that’s just how it is…. I post four times a year because that’s how many major exams I have.

Anyway, as we started clinical postings at school, I got around to interacting with lots of hospital staff, doctors, nurses, attendants, orderlies and most importantly, patients. I realized that although someday I might float to the top of that hierarchy, I start at the very bottom. As of today, the nurses at the hospital sure do know so much more, and I don’t think I could get through any thing at all without their help…. starting from finding my way around the hospital to actually taking patients’ histories. They keep a huge section of the hospital running.

But the incidents that made maximum impact on me were my interactions with patients… young and old… and I had my share of pleasant ones and bitter ones, but I learnt lessons all the same….1. Whenever I’d walk in the hospital with the steth dangling around my neck without a book or a bag announcing that I was a student, there was sure to be at least one lost patient who’d come over and ask for help. Maybe in directing them to a department or telling them which department to go to, or once to my horror, if they’d got the name of the medicine right. To add to the trauma, I happen to not know the local language. I’d feel so traumatized and well, slightly ashamed of my inability to help, and I’d always just point at a nurse or an orderly or a resident or try to ask the poor soul to ask at the inquiry desk. There was this once I was looking through a patient’s file and going over her charts looking at her progress and stuff, and her son I think it was, he came up to me and ever so ever respectfully but so worriedly asked of me how her condition was and how long it would take her to pull through. She was sick, and had multiple disorders…. endocarditis and hypothyroidism and pleural effusion and had just been treated for septic shock,and still had a GI infection. Now I just about know the meanings of all those words and the basis for their treatments. As I looked at the boy with a blank face, they wheeled his mother in, and he turned to her giving me a slightly helpless look…

Lesson : These people around here, especially the relatives of the sick ones… they respect the doctors beyond anything else and often have their hopes pinned on the race of medical men.

2. When I did have a text or notes in my hand, or when I’d stand over a patients bed, poking and prodding and fumbling as I took his history along with two three of my batch mates, more often than not, the patients realized that we were but students and that we weren’t going to be of any help to their cause as far as their recovery was concerned. This would make them resentful, and they’d want us to just go. They wouldn’t answer properly and would assume a ‘couldn’t care less…go to hell…don’t bother me I’m sick’ attitude. Why, one man even said something as ridiculous as “you people can’t become doctors if I don’t come to you as a patient, so don’t bother me”.

Lesson : I really don’t know. I think it is that if people who are in need of help are getting it from somewhere, they won’t turn to help anyone else who needs theirs. Odd, I know.

3. There was this one lady in the Surgery wards, she had a very large leg ulcer on her right leg, and it undoubtedly hurt like hell. She beckoned to us and said in her tongue “Children, you people must become good doctors, and please ask me whatever you want to, and look and examine the leg all you want, just stop if I ask you to because I’ll only say so if it hurts too much.”

Lesson : Every cloud has a silver lining. To every person that denies you a helping hand, there’s another that will lead you all the way through the tunnel to the other side.

But above all, what I learnt, is that every single one of those interactions was worth it. They didn’t affect me, I was only thankful for every day’s experience in the hospital. I found out how much I want to be doing this for ever and ever.

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