First off, let’s just state the fact that crying kids are my least favorite creatures. Sick-screaming kids, on the other hand, are my personal imagination of an alien master plot to dominate earth.
So basically, my 12 hours at pediatric ER were witnessing vomiting, diarrhea, pneumonias, and the non-ceasing chorus of screeches mingled with the beeping of monitors. Such scenario would be somehow tolerable if it wasn’t in a governmental third-world hospital. Remember when I said it’s kind of like Grey’s Anatomy, except that it’s nothing like it?
Well, for starters, we deal with the lowest possible socioeconomic classes. Most of the patients are impecunious and ignorant (if not even illiterate), that never annoyed me; it’s not their fault and they deserve treatment. The disaster is that we, doctors, have to function with the least infection control measures (if not without any). The floor is dirty, and there are stray cats and cockroaches! I have seen a doctor collecting a blood sample without wearing gloves, the baby’s blood trickling all over her fingers, and when she was done and saw the shock on my face, she told me “don’t do what I just did!” There is a box of gloves sitting on the nurses desk, but few doctors care enough to use any. That sickens me!
Another emotionally devastating thing was how the bed sheets were blood-drenched, urine-stained, and needle-studded! I have been to governmental hospitals in UAE and seen how the sheets were disposable and consistently replaced. What I saw yesterday was just so wrong!
Back to kids, in such an overwhelmingly stressful situation, I tried not to get involved. How could I manage patients I have no sympathy for? The kids seemed like noisy things who needed to shut up! The only kid I sympathized with was 4-year-old who needed calcium gloconate injections to treat his hypocalcimic condition. He looked so harmless and terrified, he persistently begged to go home and I found myself trying so hard to sooth and lull him to stop him from moving his hand and displacing his cannula. I have no idea how that boy managed to break my heart!
And there I survived my first night shift ever! I’m not looking forward to my next one!