Friday, January 25, 2013

Disarming your doctor

My last patient of the day was a middle-aged man who had fallen in the street and injured his left knee.
Pretty boring as far as this Emergency Centre is concerned.
When I called his name, he emerged from the thronging waiting room with a good natured chuckle and limped towards me smiling.
And I thought,  well that's something  delightfully rare...a happy patient!
Especially, especially rare as this was a happy patient who was also missing his left arm.

The chuckle and toothy grin he gave me when he walked into the consulting room was so disarming (sorry, couldn't resist) that I felt I needed to get to know this character a little better.

So I told him that I would promise to fix his knee only in exchange for the story of how he lost his arm.

And as I suspected he would, he obliged immediately, and launched with well-rehearsed devilish relish into the rather gruesome details:  

...that he was travelling home by railway one afternoon....that he was robbed on the train by "skollies" ....that said "skollies" then threw him out of the moving train.... that "luckily for me, doctor" he was already in the third last carriage when he exited so he only had to watch the wheels of two carriages butcher through his trapped arm while he concentrated on keeping his head out of the way ...that once the train had passed, he stared at his severed arm and fingers still twitching along the railway line searching for their beloved armpit...and realising that his limb was destined to become rat food, then stood up, bleeding limb-remnant and all, and WALKED the 20 minutes along the tracks to the next station where he fainted and a policeman took him to the hospital.

"Do you want to see my stump, Doctor?" He asked me with ghoulish glee.

"Oh yes please!"I cried.

And needing no further encouragement he pulled all 10cm of it from his sleeve and contracted that little stump so that it performed a freaky little stompie dance show for me.

When I clapped and giggled in appreciation, he suddenly looked very confused and also a little disappointed.

"You mean you are not scared of it?" he asked incredulously.

"What? did you expect me to scream?" I replied.

"Yes!" He said, with a mischievous twinkle in his eye. "The little kids always scream and run away when I do that!!!"

I apologised profusely to the man for not being sufficiently petrified, as my patients that week had exhausted my entire scream that one patient with scurrying squirmy maggots eating her necrotic foot, and the one before that with brains leaking out of his head that had been shot through in a gang fight, and the one before that, a young boy with a gangrenous penis who had a traditional circumcision performed under non-sterile conditions in the bush over the festive period, and the one before that, the grandmother from the Eastern Cape with a fungating septic cancerous mass in her breast that had been there for two years...and the one before that....and oh! that other one that had that seriously gross....

Dammit, it's good to be back.



Naima Khan said...

Welcome back. Nice to hear the news from the other side.

Magus said...

Glad to have you back! :D


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