Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Dr Fang

Vast apologies for not posting/responding until now. I know I feel disappointed when I look at someone's blog and there's nothing there, so sorry about that. But things have been moving rapidly here, and there is much to write.

First, a rather morbid look at how brains work - or some of them, anyway. At the moment I am sitting in the doctor's office in the Alcohol Unit. Outside my window is the driveway to the hospital car-park, and across the driveway the autumn sun is shining on the pomegranate tree. The day is quiet, no birds sing.

When I was young, and went to visit my grandparents (I remember long silences, and the smell of camphor-wood chess pieces in the dim light, white bread and thick clotted cream and strawberry jam and the ticking of a clock), there was one book that I treasured above all others. It was a book of Greek mythology, something I devoured and read again and again and again. It was a dull olive green, quite weighty, and contained numerous pictures and extracts from poems - Laocoon and his sons being taken by the serpents, Daphne being coccooned in bark, Hermes whispering Argus to sleep so he could cut off his head.

Much of the stories were illustrated in a romantic way - romantinc in the old, dangerous sense of the word. Myths of blood and sex and violence, lavishly illustrated in a style perhaps not suitable for young minds.

And illustrated with a particularly vivid illustration was the story of the rape of Persephone, taken by the God of the Underworld to be his bride.

The thing is, even thirty years later, unless I deliberately imagine otherwise, every time I see a pomegranate, tree or fruit, I see some sobbing maiden-goddess on a dark throne beneath the earth, thin and starving, her mouth stained red, and the God of death and wealth standing triumphant at her side.

So - there I was, sitting at my desk, notes open in front of me, and just outside the threshold of hearing was her, weeping, beneath the asphalt.

That's how I reckon brains work. Kids reading this - don't do drugs.


Work at the ICU progresses. We had what I (and only I) would call industrial action the other day, in that the boss took a day off. For the last few months he has been the only full time consultant. He has been promised cover: an ICU consultant was allegedly coming from India, then another from Canada, then a third from Arizona, but all had cancelled or fallen through - better offers in Queensland, deaths in the family, snakebite (seriously, the guy from Arizona) - , so Dr White was left running the place by himself. The Royal had been talking about sending him someone, but of course, nothing had happened.

So last weekend, after being on for ten days in a row (eight oçlock to five oçlock plus being on twenty four hour call, which more often than not meant pre-dawn call-ins and never being more than fifteen minutes away from the hospital), and several months of six-day weeks, Dr White took the radical step of saying he was taking Sunday off - cover or no cover.

So we had to close the unit, which meant that all the ICU patients were shipped to the Royal, and we virtually closed down, and the Sunday registrar arrived to find an almost empty ward with a few overflow patients who had nothing wrong with them and nurses standing around looking stunned.

Anyway, that was the Great Intensivist Strike of 2007, and the Royal have decided they can spare someone after all, and the new guy (from England) allegedly arrived yesterday. We shall see. Dr White is back, twinkling of eye and bright of tooth, with his vast selection of educational horror stories - "It is a horrible truth of medicine that if a child weighs less than his or her hospital notes, that child will die", that kind of thing - and I feel a lot safer with him there than me and Dr Fang.

Dr Fang is my fellow registrar. It pains me to say it but he is one of the two or three people I went through medical school with whom I suspect I genuinely dislike. He is deeply racist - Aryan girlfriends, anti-Asian comments, didn't speak to my friend Masako for three years, frenziedly barbequing kangaroo while shouting about the football - which may be more explicable in someone of mixed Asian-European parentage, buit is no more easy to deal with. He is contemptuous of anyone who earns less than him and envious of those who earn more - the bulk of the first handover was spent bitching about what the locum registrar got paid. And his other frequently expressed complaint is that there are not enough cute nurses in ICU - or often that the ones who are there are not cute enough, I'm not sure. Either way the average cuteness does not come up to his standards.

Scene: Dr Fang bent over some unresponsive man, trying to get a tube in, speaking to nurse:
"Give him sixty of rocuronium, do a blood gas - but first get me someone with bigger norks".

Having said that, he knows more about this kind of stuff, having been doing it for two years as opposed to two weeks, which is good.

Anyway, much more to write, and comments to answer, hopefully this weekend.

Thanks for listening,


Blogger Camilla said...

Welcome back, it's good to see you :D :D Dr Fang sounds utterly odious. I hope he doesn't get to you too much!

I'll try and write something too this weekend - I've been a bit silent myself.


8:39 PM  
Blogger Maggie said...

Ugh, Dr Fang sounds repulsive. Sorry you have to work with him!

10:11 PM  
Blogger Benedict 16th said...

A catch 22 Drugs and Alcohol can't take them cos they have mental health problems, and mental health can't take them cos they have drug problems, the solution - chuck 'em in Jail.

Maybe it's just a SNAFU?



10:16 PM  
Blogger Bronze John said...

Dr Fang is luckily only on nights (higher pay, plus it's almost a week-on, half-week-off thing so you can do locum work in your time off and earn more money.

Hope to hear from you soon,

10:09 AM  

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