01 February 2009

Kodak Moments

It has been suggested to me, by several people on numerous occasions, to keep a
diary of the frustrations we as South African doctors in state hospitals have to
endure. So here begins a series of "Kodak Moments" I wish outsiders could
witness. Oh, and these recounts apply to every State Hospital I have worked in
thus far.

It has happened once again. The damned electricity is down. There have been serious problems with the airconditioning for months. Working in a sauna is already a debilitating circumstance.

Impeccable timing too as I had just started slipping drugs into the next patient on the maxillofacial list, sending Queen Mab in her chariot riding over the patient's, in this case, badly marred face. The generators did kick in. Is it me, or is that lagtime before backup power resumption increasing at a exponential rate? Well, my "Chillin' on da Beech" cocktail of Sublimaze, Robinul, Morphine & Decasone is already in - I'm reassuring the patient and telling her to breathe big ones for me when... I felt the tap-dance of a split-hooved creature on my left shoulder.
"Go on, do it. You've started already! Things will be fine."
I picked up the Propofol syringe and connected it to the injection port when the theatre doors gave way to Matron (our villiage crier) brandishing her officious clipboard. "Finish up the cases on table now. Don't start any new cases. We will resume once the electricians have sorted out the problem" That could take all day. They have been busy for months & there is no sign of improvement.

So I apologised to the patient & made off to the anaesthetics tea room, for a nice hot cuppa java. With the entire theatre squad sitting there... idle time... idle minds... I now declare the January 2009 Slagging Olympics open.
"we can't even boil the kettle"
"the milk is going sour in the fridge, and my coke is tepid"
"wonder what's happening with the cricket"
"it won't help to phone the superintendent - it's a waste of time"
"Ray phoned the superintendent the other day when there were no porters & we had came to a standstill. Do you know what he said?"
"So, what's wrong with the doctors? Are they crippled?"

I was gobsmacked. I already push the patients into theatre myself, get them onto the table. I have carried patients post-operative "like a bride over the threshold" to get them onto a guerney. Pushed them to recovery room alone. Let alone all the other fetch & carry I do with the equipment myself. Since that day I have become crippled on principle.

Some of the surgeons mop the blood & mess off the floors themselves. I am sorry, I draw the line right there!

But this all got too depressing so I raised my eyes to stare distantly at the roof & hope for better times only to be distracted by a swarm of blue-arsed-flies circling the tearoom just waiting for the sour milk to be left outside the fridge. First it was just the mosquito's in the corner by the flea-infested on-call bed, next to the cockroach cupboard.

"Eish, I've explained to our patient that she will be cancelled & postponed until next week. She is totally happy and accepting." my Maxfax tells me.
I think to myself, with Fentanyl & Morphine on board, I would also be totally happy & accept anything.

1 comment:

Bongi said...

at kalafong we also often struggled with the collapse of theater list for one of a vast number of reasons. i hated it. the patients didn't simply vanish, so inevitably a backlog developed.