Sunday, July 26, 2009



Oh God - my body has gone through Trauma...

Four consecutive nights of night shifts, in a row, consecutively for four nights, one after the other, all night, for four a row.

They ended last night.

Therefore, I am now allowed to initiate the recovery process from the face down position under my duvet...

Step One: Climb inside skull armed with ice pick and begin breaking through the 2cm too tight steel casing compressing the brain and causing massive post-call headache.

Step Two: Once the brain pressure has been relieved, initiate neurotransmissions to rest of body. Expect MASSIVE resistance from skeletal muscles, known for their surly contempt of brain's authority.

Step Three: Scream violently upon realisation that your perfect skin is the angrily inflamed crime scene of a bloodsucking flea-bite feast festival.

Step Four: Remind yourself that being a doctor is both the most awesome and flipping worst profession in the whole world, and that this moment is just located near the bottom of the awesome/terrible scale.

Step Five: Obtain TLC - in whatever form: Food, or music, or a phonecall to a friend, or raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, or bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens, or brown paper packages tied up with strings,
you know... just a few of your favorite things... ( Musicals are some of my favourite things...ESPECIALLY the Sound of Music musical...)

Jeez, I really really heart musicals!

I love musicals so much. My Mom and I used to watch My Fair Lady and the Sound of Music over and over when I was little. Singing and dancing and acting at the same time!?!?! It's the most glorious manifestation of happiness, am I not right?

The hospital front room is a very dreary place. I've made bringing a little musical magic into it one of my objectives.

Here's an example:

Last night, our front room team had two very sick patients in the resuscitation area whom we knew would not make it through the night...

Sherbert, I haven't told you about my team yet have I? It consists of:

Dr S- that's me. (newbie and very green community service officer),

Dr MB - (an English Medical Officer who travelled all the way from the UK to experience 3rd world medicine and take advantage of our superlative weather )

Dr K (The registrar in charge of our team, i.e. specialising in Emergency Medicine, who was once described my a patient as looking more like a tow-truck driver than a doctor)

Got it? That's our team right there, in a nutshell.

Back to the dying patients in the resus area - we can't get distracted now - they are dying after all.

One of the patients was mine, and the other Dr K's. We were both pretty saddened by the fact that despite extensively counseling their respective families that their relatives would surely not make it through the night, the families still decided to leave the hospital and go home.

If that was my relative I'd be in the bed with them, holding on tightly and whispering words of love all night until they left this world...

We had done all we could in terms of medical treatment. All that was left to do was make their last moments on Earth pleasant.

This is difficult in the Emergency Department...

But that didn't deter us. As we had exhausted all the medical ways of helping these patients, Dr MB and I, possibly delirious from our four consecutive night shifts, began singing harmonious lullabies at the top of our voices, in order to peacefully lull them to sleep, forever.

Dr MB might have gone a little bit too far though when, after I mentioned that the patients were for TLC management only, began singing:

"Don't go chasing waterfalls, just stick to the rivers and the lakes that you're used to. I know that you've got to have it your way or nothing at all, but I think you're moving too fast"

i.e. The group, TLC's, most famous song.

I won't lie, it's such a catchy tune that I couldn't help but sing with him.

Appropriate or not, it made us feel as though we were at least trying to bring something magical to the last part of these patient's lives. They died just before seven, all alone with no loving family members by their sides. I felt terrible for them, and was glad that in the end, we could provide a little TLC on their journey out of this world...

To those of you who know me...when I'm dying, please can you sing songs from My Fair Lady and The Sound of Music? I don't mind some TLC either. Some sexy rock ballads and a hard-hitting gangsta rap number might be nice as well. If you even think about breaking out the Britney Spears or Celine Dion - I will most certainly come back as a zombie to terrorise you for eternity!

Being a doctor means one comes into contact with death constantly. Mostly we don't like to think about it in order to function. If we had to process every death we'd seen our brains would explode.

That said, I once found this poem which I like to refer to when those death barriers I've erected around my emotions start to falter.
Please read it out aloud.

It is my favourite poem about death of all time:

If I die, survive me with such sheer force
that you wake the furies of the pallid and cold
from south to south, lift your indelible eyes,
from sun to sun dream through your singing mouth
I don't want your laughter or your steps to waver.
I don't want my heritage of joy to die.
Don't call up my person, I am absent.
Live in my absence as if in a house.
Absence is a house so fast
that inside, you will pass through its walls
and hang pictures on the air.
Abscence is a house so transparent
that I, lifeless, will see you, living,
And if you suffer, my love, I will die again.

Pablo Neruda


Ketan said...

That was very touching post, Dr. S!

Yes, sometimes what we're surrounded by all the time is what we overlook the most. But I believe, not just in unpleasant matters like death, but even otherwise. Ubiquity does that, maybe.

Have not been much into poetry, so don't scream if I say I hadn't heard of Pablo Narudo! Also haven't watched those movies, though have heard their names!

Why don't you update your profile with favorite books, novels, movies, if it's not too personal?

Hope you have a great day!


Dr S said...


You mean you have not ever watched the Sound of Music? Or My Fair Lady...

I'm hyperventilating! ;p

I've thought about updating my profile many times - but never get around to it. Basically, I'm lazy.

But yes, I agree, the most commonplace eventually becomes invisible. And when we are suddenly forced to realise the commonplace, for whatever reason - we are suprised!!! Even with something as obvious as death. Isn't life strange?

Laila Of Course! said...

Beautiful, beautiful post Dr. S! :) And yes, I am most definitely a big fan of musicals (tsk, tsk Ketan!). I think I've watched Sound of Music 6 times and My Fair Lady twice.. Any more suggestions? I always draw a blank on movies...

Be sure and pop by and leave me a note! And would you like to exchange blog links?


Ketan said...

I hope by this time you're done with your screaming, that your husband wasn't around or that he's at least started using some sort of protective gear against your screaming, that you've stopped hyperventilating and that your blood pH hasn't shot through the roof, and if it has then that the roof hasn't fallen on you. I'm telling you, I'll really really miss your funny posts if that roof falls on you. <---- All this might give you an idea how disoriented I get when you scream like that. But maybe, I'm alright now--as in I can live without your lovely posts. Maybe. :)


deluded said...

tender loving care :)

deluded said...



that is so technical.

I think I'll go puke due my idiocy now.

Stupidosaur said...


(Look I screamed on your behalf, so that you don't have to when I tell you that even I don't know the great audio/visual/literary artists/artworks mentioned)

(Oh wait! I have heard of Britney Spears and Celine Dion :P)

But yeah, death is one of the reasons why I didn't go into medicine. Sissy eh? (Well no thats only one of the reasons)

Dr S. said...

Ketan: My husband is quite immune to the screaming by now. In fact - If I'm not screaming then he starts to worry. He knows me well, that man.

Stupidosaur: I know a few rude dinosaur jokes - not sure, but I think they'll offend most people - and probably make YOU scream. Thanks for saving my voice box from aural trauma yet again. That certainly was very kind of you! :)

Deluded: I'm not single. Very happily married to my darling husband. Who is NOT a doctor. I could never - we'd just discuss red blood cells and physiology all day and then I'd get bored and blow my brains out!

Laila Of Course! said...

Hi Hi again Dr. S! Oh, I meant that by swapping blog links that you would put me on the list of blogs and such that you have on the side of your page and I would do the same on mine. :) Hehe, I know what you mean about technologically challenged; it's been a learning curve for me!

Hmm, yes, I should definitely do a blog post about that. Hehe, you must've read my mind, because the day before yesterday I just felt very much the impulse to write about why exactly I DO write. Which is because I would like a voice. And so on and so forth, hehe. Are you going to be doing the same, then?! :P

Yes, I do feel that you have been portraying the true dynamics behind being a doctor in South Africa. The only true look I've ever had into South Africa was through novels and such, and I have heard about how the Danish farmers and settlers moved into the country (isn't that so? I'm a quarter Danish, so it's interesting to learn). And I know that that wasn't really a good choice. Eh. But I have never heard so much about medicine and being a doctor in such a country!! And that is why I love your blog. :)

Haha, hm. I do enjoy fashion (the type that I feel behooves me) and try to look for pieces of clothing that fit my personality and such. But no, I'm not studying fashion design. It's just that in America people don't really care too much for fashion (at least in my region) and it really bothers me, so I try to put extra care into what I wear. And the 'fashion' that is present is simply horrible. lol.

I'm just studying biology and psychology, and try to put a little extra effort into my look, I guess. And then I try and make sure that I (in the words of my mum) 'have the brains behind the beauty'.


This is a pretty long comment! OH WELL.

Stupidosaur said...

//I know a few rude dinosaur jokes - not sure, but I think they'll offend most people -

1) I am not dinosaur. They are extinct.
2) I am not people. They are existing.
3) I am Stupidosaur. I am existinct.

Not being a dinosaur, rude dinosaur jokes will not offend me.
Though they offend people, I am not a 'people' specimen.

So go ahead, tell! Maybe you could make it next post !

deluded said...


you give us all hope, oh pretty one ;)

what i see around is doccies being single frustrated and balding even at 30.


Dr S. said...

Ok Stupidosaur, you asked for it:

What do you call a cross between a gay man and a dinosaur?

A Verysoreanus.

bad enough? No? Here's another one:

What do you get when you cross a hippopotamus ( not a dinosaur but definitely from prehistoric ancestry) and a lesbian?

A Lickalotopuss.

AAAH!!! So terrible - but funny nonetheless.

Deluded: NEVER give up hope dude. US medics are stashed away in our studies, far from the sun and sea and good life that makes people look good. I managed to find someone to take me, and no he is not deaf dumb or blind.

I'm still working on your post. Want to make it good. Just stressing for my advanced trauma and life support course exam in two weeks!

Ketan said...

Dr. S,

You're a thorough academic!

I never knew you were also into paloentozoosociosexology!

And, you've to still give exams? What exam?

And your husband, he sure must have developed sound-absorbent, calcieied tympanic membranes by now. :P


Stupidosaur said...


Well yeah, they were somewhat funny.

But its time to make stupid-o-sore jokes out of your jokes! Ting Ting!
(Which basically means making bad jokes even worse ;) )

Whats my justification for counter commenting to the jokes? Am I a dinosaur?

Nope. There's no justification actually. But still I am going to make one sorry excuse ;)

"They say one shouldn't make fun of the dead. All dinosaurs are dead. So I can't let you get away with it :P"
What do you call a cross between a gay man and a dinosaur?

Ans:Between whichever two creatures you put a cross, its still called Cross:P


What do you call a cross between a gay man and a dinosaur?

A Verysoreanus.

Hah! Verysoreanus? Thats nowhere close to dinosaur's name. 'Saur' or 'saurus' is the keyword, meaning lizard. Verysoreanus sounds more like the name of a Roman fellow.

Some Roman name examples (brought to you by thought based on familiar Roman names like Augustus, Herodotus, Juilius, Norelius combined with the power of google search):


So probably the question to your answer should have been

"What do you call an offspring of the union of (heehee not falling into my own trap of 'cross between' ;) ) a gay man and a Roman?"

I guess Roman guy is biologically out of question, and forcible natural (forcible for the guy here for a change :P) or artificial insemination with Roman woman would produce just another normal variant specimen of Homo sapiens (only here homo would have additional special connotations of the pedigree ;))

So basically, the question itself is out of question :P(if you follow what I mean ;))

Ok maybe this simpler question works:

What do you call I gay Roman?

A: Verysoreanus

Yeah. perfect. riddle/joke whatever.

I my excuse doesn't doesn't hold true for second joke. Lesbians and hippos are alive. Of course many of them did die but perhaps the joke was meant on those still alive. I'll give you the benefit of doubt and not dissect the joke.
But still I couldn't resist a spin-off:

What do you call a very fat
Hip Hop artist?
A: Hiphopotamus!

BTW why bring only gay men and women in the joke? I guess just because its a joke and its more fun to mock gays? Something like the same punchline wouldn't have so much effect if taken outside of a blonde joke or sardarji joke eh?

Think about it:

Joke 1 is applicable to straight woman.
Joke 2 is applicable to straight man

Hmmm I guess this comment compensated not having anything to blog about today.

//You're a thorough academic!

What the heck? Its just 2 jokes, and that too perhaps overheard!

You are definitely doing Lotalick and buttering here

(ok ok don't beat me up. I get it that you were just being jocular/jovial or something ;).)

BTW perhaps you should beat up deluded. I think in his comment above he probably alluded to you (deluded - alluded rhymes :P)

(Narayan! Narayan! ;) )

Stupidosaur said...

Hmm...since VErysoreaNUS joke can involve a straight woman, wonder if it can involve Venus.

(Dr.S, if you find any of these 2 comments rude or offensive, well you started it :P)

(But anyways let me know if I need to apologise :P)

Ketan said...

The following comment is meant for exclusive perusal (revising a new term I'd learnt) of Stupidosaur; anyone else reading it would be guilty of ewwsdropping:

LOL, Stupidosaur! Seriously, I enjoyed your play of words.

Okay, you caught me--I was indeed trying to be jocular. But, I'm not deluded enough to indulge in lotalicking and buttering. And if the same standards are to be applied, I've lotalicked and buttered you a lot more--just that you feel sleepy at most inopportune times. :( I was amused by the disparity of entities crossed in Dr. S' jokes. I didn't even praise the jokes. BTW, have you and deluded colluded? Just rhyming! ;)

A single, balding doc in midtwenties (much less, 30) doesn't beat up anyone--frustrated or not. Okay, let me not generalize. I don't beat up anyone. :|

Well Stupidosaur, I'd emailed you at

And I didn't get a delivery failure notice.

My ID is


PS: If it helps, my association with Dr. S is pretty old going by the age of my own blog.

PPS: I actually enjoyed your jokes above. This much clarification wouldn't have taken place had I not considered you worthy of lotalicking and buttering.

PPPS: Those with slightly above average IQ get angry at Narad himself, but you're still quite adorable, Stupidosaur, something I've anyway commented at a post where you were trying to repay your debts. If you don't get hint, you could ask me, and I'd give you the link.

Stupidosaur said...

Dr. S. No reply here?

You disappoint me!
But how can you?
You never appointed me first!
As anything, ever.



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