Monthly Archives: August 2011

Arrest Call Politics

When someone crashes and the big red button gets pushed, alarms and pagers go off all over the hospital. With varying degrees of speed, people appear from all corners to play their part, whatever that part might be.

During the last phase of the course, I felt uncomfortable with the idea of trailing along behind to watch while someone’s life hung in the balance. I didn’t want to get in the way and I didn’t want to be some macabre kind of spectator. A few snide comments by nursing staff amplified my reluctance.

But after a year in the hospitals, and a number of simulation sessions where we students fumbled about with saving the plastic man, I realised that if this is what I’m going to do for a living, I need to learn how. I can read and memorise Advanced Life Support Protocols until I can recite them underwater, but a key part of learning this has to be watching while those with experience put them into practice.

I can only do this while I’m a student. Once I’m an intern, I’ll be holding the pager.

I still feel awkward about it, but I’m determined to stop avoiding the calls.

Today I was rostered on to the Emergency Department, and was with the senior doctor on shift when an arrest alarm went off. The senior ED doc is one of the key responders. The doc raced off, and I paused to tell someone we were leaving an elderly patient in the procedure room before I followed.

As I was walking to the ward in question, a small horde of junior-ish doctors appeared from every direction. I passed a Resident I know and said hello. “Run, Toast,” he said, voice sticky with sarcasm, “You might be able to help!”

He and his mate had also just deliberately sent a group of other doctors & med students to the wrong ward.

It’s not a show, and it’s not something you hope will happen. It’s something I want to be able to handle when it’s my responsibility, and I really don’t need smug jerks like that putting me off.

It was a false alarm today, so the main thing I learned was that this guy thinks it’s funny to misdirect his colleagues and to belittle his colleagues of the future.

I woke up this morning wishing I hadn’t ditched a perfectly good career to hock my life and drag myself and The Girl through this mediventure. I’m going to bed the same way.


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One Hand Clapping

McCat is asleep and purring on my arm, and my one`handed typing can’t keep up with my brain.

It’s Hiroshima Day. Please take a moment to reflect on world peace. Make it as long a moment as you like.

Today I had to go to the dentist in the city. Last time I did this, my mouth stayed numb for far too long and I felt all woozy, so I had an unscheduled overnight stay with my dad. This time, my girl and the Yellow Dog of Happiness came with me to drive me home.

We drove for three hours, got a great coffee, had a quick catch-up with my lovely Step-Ma, I tottled off to the chair; Girl and Yellow Dog had a stroll by the water. They picked me up, excessively numb and somewhat dopey, we picked up some sashimi to take home for dinner, and stopped near our old house to get the Girl a late lunch.

There’s an off-leash park around the corner from the house where we lived for seven years. Let’s take the hound there, I said, and you can eat your lunch before we hit the traffic again. Great idea, off we go.

Yellow Dog is much more in love with her than he is with me, but I convinced him to leave the Girl on her park bench. The two of us wandered across the dusty excuse for a park, greeting assorted small dogs and their owners in the appropriate way. All very harmonious.

Harmonious until behind us, a certain spaniel launched itself at the Girl’s face and stole a part of her lunch.

She politely and quietly suggested to the owner that he control his dog.

Loud enough for me to hear across the park, he suggested that she ‘stop eating for five minutes.’

For the last five months, the Girl has been working against history, genetics and a whole bunch of internal demons to regain the athlete’s frame she lost to sedentary work and too much of a good thing. She has been working HARD. And she’s looking and feeling great. She has muscles on her muscles. Her clothes are hanging off her.

There was a not-so-subtle implication in his choice of words, and I dare say it cut us both to the core.

As the portly man continued to rant at her, blaming her for being in a dog park and completely failing to apologise or attempt to control his dog, she calmly stood up and walked over to the Yellow Dog and I, obnoxious spaniel in tow.

The food obsessed spaniel climbed all over us for a full lap of the park, clawing at our legs and completely fixated on the end of the sandwich. No intervention. No apology. No manners. No accountability.

There was a time when I feared living outside the city because my differences would be more obvious and I thought I would struggle for acceptance. As I got to know the Girl’s home town, I formed the view that the anonymity of the city was a bigger threat. In a small town, people know who you are. Sure, they’ll know you’re the gayest doctor in town. But they’ll also know that if they egg your car, someone in town will know who did it.

He lives in the inner city and has a little rainbow name-tag on his spaniel. Chances are, he’s a friend of a friend. Would he have dared to unleash his stream of vitriol on my Girl if he knew the whole town would know by Wednesday?

Probably. People like that are like that wherever they live their unhappy lives.

But for us, this unpleasant encounter with the obnoxious man and his uncontrollable dog just underscored our growing distaste for the city, and cemented a feeling that our tiny town is the home we want it to be.

I’m so proud of the woman I love for the way she walked away. It implies a healthy stock of inner peace.

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