Sunday, May 31, 2009
I do not believe in ghosts.
Fundamentally - no, I do not think they "exist".
Did you see what I just did there? I made the words do tricks. exist vs dead vs the living dead. I'm an awesome word manipulator.
I have friends who tell me their great aunts or friend's sister's uncle's mother in-law could communicate with the dead.
While I secretly wonder as to the possibility of this, mostly I just find these stories hilarious.
During Thursday night's tea break - the sister's and receptionist staff were entertaining me with ghost stories from the hospital. These included stories of:
*An old hospital clerk haunting the filing room,moving chairs around and switching lights on and off etc.
*Seeing old patients sitting in corners of the trauma unit observing the goings on.
*Hearing the screams of aborted foetuses while sleeping in the on-call-room ( which is actually the termination of pregnancy counselling room during the day)
and so on and so forth.
I'm not scared of the dead. I'm scared of the living.
Some of my patients actually are the living dead.
Those COPD patients with secondary heart failure who are still smoking...walking dead.
Those sugar-saturated diabetics with an insatiable appetite for cream cake and a practiced ignorance of their limb-threatening periphral vascular disease...living dead . ( they can't be the walking dead because they've usually had their legs amputated.)
Those sallow yellow alcoholics with liver disease and portal hypertension and oesophageal varices who won't stop drinking despite bleeding from their intestines...once again...living dead.
By the way, do you think that when an alcoholic dies they become a methylated spirit?
Ha Ha! I just made that up. Seriously.I crack myself up.
I had a patient yesterday who was not mentally unsound.
He was just really really drunk. He was so drunk he did not even know why he was at the unit.
He was so drunk every cell in his body was drunk with him. Even his blood corpuscles were drunk-driving through the clearly demarcated road map of his veins and arteries -and took a wrong turn - ending up pouring through the large laceration in the left side of his head.
He apparently was assaulted with a bottle which is why he had a big gash in his scalp.
For some reason I really liked this guy. He was not one of those angry drunks, or sad drunks. He was just a happy-go-lucky peace-loving homeless drunkard.
We were having a quiet evening, so instead of asking the sisters to do it, I stitched him up myself.
Normally we are so busy that we have to ask the nursing staff to suture, and as it has been a while, I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed it.
Aahh...the sterile instruments, the meticulous piecing together of flesh with correctly spaced sutures, the utter practicality of it, the fact that no-one can bother you because you're performing mini-surgery. I love it.
I also enjoy having the patients to myself to chat to while I work. This is usually when I hear the most interesting stories. For instance...
This guy started off our conversation by telling me that he was dead.
"Oh don't worry sir," I explained,"Wounds on the head always bleed a lot, even when they're very superficial. You'll be alright. This is not a life-threatening injury."
" I know doctor, " he said, "but I am actually dead. I'm a ghost."
OK..umm...what? I've only been trained in the field of medicine for living non-apparitions. I do not know the correct suture for a wounded spectre's head.
What I have been taught to do is keep the living, living.
Do I do the reverse in this case?
If so then what method should I use to keep the dead, dead?
Me: "Explain, sir. Explain immediately what you mean...because ghosts don't bleed dude. Ghost's cant get hit in the head with a broken bottle. I've watched TV. The bottle goes through the ghost's head because he has magic ghost powers. Next you are going to tell me Demi Moore is your girlfriend."
That last joke went over his head.
Ghost: "Well I definitely died the last time I was here. My friend stabbed me in the neck and then I died. When I woke up I was back on the streets, I don't remember the hospital or anything. That's how I know I am dead. So sometimes I come and say hello to everyone here."
I didn't say much further after that. Didn't think either. Was he a loony tune or a member of the after-life? Who knows...not for me to ponder. I just got on with the job, sewed him up and sent him back to his favourite haunt.
He winked at me on his way out.
That's when I knew he was fucking with me.
And then I wondered...Did I just communicate with the dead, like John Edwards. I hate John Edwards, and now I had become him. Oh Shit! I should have asked him more questions about the after-life! Another opportunity missed.
In the words of Alice in Wonderland, this job just gets curiouser and curiouser.
Humans are fascinating aren't they?
I'm just interested...if you die and become a ghost - do you have to haunt the place that you died in? If that's true...it's fucking terrible. Imagine being stuck haunting the godforsaken trauma unit for the rest of eternity!
Remind me to go to Mauritius to die. Or the Seychelles. Or behind the scenes at an all-male modelling show, or in the audience at a west-end theatre so that I can be entertained by musical theatre for the rest of eternity!