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 nights...in 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.