Friday, June 19, 2009
Last night-call last night.
Last night was my last night on call at the Primary Health Care Trauma Unit.
After 30 crazy nights on call in this spirit-crushing, armour-building, crazy-wonderful place, I am amazed to admit that it was a bittersweet experience.
While being in a fantastically good mood all evening, ( even tolerating the swearing from our disustingly rude patients), the evening was nevertheless tinged with nostalgia for the night-calls past.
I was expecting the Fates to weave a kitten-clawed tangled mess for my last night at the trauma unit.
Yet, they must have taken pity on me, and as a reward for surviving six months of primary health care hell, deemed my last night to be a peaceful one.
The only interesting bit was the hour between 10pm and 11pm - whereby not less than three stabbed chests with possible pneumohaemothoraces* rolled through the door.
Which resulted in me performing mini-surgery and inserting three chest drains* consecutively.
By three am it was unusually dead quiet and we spent the rest of the night reminiscing about the past six months, laughing at the ridiculousness of the situations we've faced, and sympathising over the particularly emotionally tough cases we've had to treat.
I was on call with a fantastic team of Sisters, some of my favourites:
Sister B - a nursing sister with a constantly jolly spirit, absolute commitment to her cause of helping those in need, and one who operates as everyone's mother. She baked banana loaf, date loaf and fried samoosas for a midnight feast in celebration of my last night. What a darling!
Sister S - most famous for her "finger of doom" and short-temper. A brilliantly skilled lady, she can also reduce grown men to tears when she is irritated by their behaviour or health ignorance. You know you're in for an ass-whipping when Sister S pulls out her "finger of doom" and starts pointing it in your face. There is more threat in that first finger on her right hand than the entire nuclear threat in North Korea. My most prized compliment from the day hospital, was when she herself told me she became a little bit frightened of me after I unrelentingly berated a patient for their rudeness towards the trauma staff. I told her that she was my inspiration.
And then there's Sister M - the sweetest Sister of them all. Quiet, competent, unassuming and never, ever threatening in any way.
As they are all working night shift, last night was the last time I'll ever see them - unless I come back to do locum calls later on in my career.
I'm so ever grateful to them for making my stay at the day hospital tolerable. Despite the pathetic working conditions they face, and paltry salaries - they are committed to helping their communities, never fail in their happy working spirit, and are ever-ready to support and guide the frightened new doctors. All of which makes them the best nursing staff I've ever worked with.
In my mind they are giants and heroes, and I will miss them greatly when I finally leave here at the end of the month.
So in the messed-up way that a victim falls in love with her captor, so have I become very attached to this crazy place.
Isn't that called Stockholm Syndrome?
Well, I have it.
But don't worry my readers, this being my last night here does not mean the stories will end.
On the contrary.
I'm off to work at the most notorious secondary hospital in the whole of the Western Cape, and maybe South Africa at the end of June.
And I'm 100 percent sure that the stories from there will not disappoint you!
*haemopneumothoraces: the plural for haemopneumothorax - blood and air in the space around the lungs, causing compression of said lung and compromising breathing. Usually caused by external penetrating injuries of the chest wall.
*Chest drain - having to cut through the skin, subcutaneous tissue, dissect through the rib space and puncture the membranes surrounding the lung on the affected side, and then inserting a tube attached to a drainage bag to decompress the lung by draining off blood/air.