Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The Not So Great Satan

And tonight reporting to you live from Florey Emergency Department.

Tis the night before changeover, and all through the ward,
not a creature is stirring, because we are bored.

Because it is a that increasingly rare phenomenon: the genuine quiet night. And we're all bored.

Well, not actually. My vomiting woman is bored with vomiting, and the mother of the croupy baby is bored with her child being croupy, and the devil child in cubicle three, who seems to have modeled his psychiatric symptoms on a combination of bad horror films and Marilyn Manson videos, is bored with rolling his eyes and muttering, and the charming, white-haired demented elderly man is bored with being charming, white-haired and demented.

I remember a few years back seeing a very pleasant man who had suffered a stroke, and had developed what they call "amorous dementia". He seemed quite lucid in every way, except that he was extremely pleased with everything. I walked into the room to see him and he stared and said "My God, you're a fine looking fellow, aren't you?". I asked him how he was feeling and he said this was the finest hospital in the world, and the nurses were jewels of women, every one. And when they brought him the sandwiches he waxed rhapsodic about them, and said that dignitaries and potentates dining in five star restaurants would envy him these sandwiches.

Now, he was extremely happy, deliriously happy, unreasonably happy and satisfied with his lot, certianly the happiest of men, but the neurologists had no hesitation in declaring him disabled. And he was. He was like a radio only tuned to one station, emotionally colourblind, or cognitively tone-deaf. His own extremely poor prognosis, the evident distress of his closest friends, his rapid deterioration - none of these disturbed his almost beatific joy. If he had been allowed out of the department, he would have been the most vulnerable of men, someone with all the street smarts of a teen girl on ecstasy.

Who would have thought that the capacity to feel disgust, rage and contempt was a vital survival skill?

Anyway, I can probably send croupy boy home now. Next entry may be about PAP syndrome, which is a damn fascinating neurological disorder.

Thanks for listening,


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