White-coated ramblings: (7) Death happens.


Source: Google images.

Ever since my first shift at Internal Medicine rotation, I’ve accustomed myself to the fact that people die all the time; Internal Medicine  wards are the terminal station for the chronically ill, and I came to believe that Death lives in there. But I have always dreaded the moment I would witness someone die. It happened today.

In an Egyptian governmental hospital, It’s always the same scenario; relatives insanely knock your door asking you to come see the patient because he had “fallen silent”. He was an 80-something man with multi-system issues, and his pulse had gone unpalpable. My heart sank. My shift had almost ended, and I was there, on my own. He was on a wheelchair. Some worker should move him to a trolly so we rush him to the ER while I start CPR, but nobody was there. There’s only one working elevator at the floor that serves doctors, patients, and their relatives, so when arrests happen, you have to run to that one elevator and knock heavily shouting “arrest!” in order to get it as fast as possible. Meanwhile, the patient was still on the wheelchair, pulseless.

He got to the ER on the wheelchair, and CPR was started only when we moved him to a bed at the arrest room. I was afraid perhaps he would die because I was too slow, but then after all, I was on my own, and I did all it took to rush him there. Things get easier at the ER, at least there are residents with more experience than a lonely house officer.

“It’s too late, let him die in peace.” The resident said after multiple cycles of resuscitation.I froze.

“Wait, there’s pulse, he came back!” Said the nurse. He did come back, and I wanted to hug him for that. I think I was the only one in the room who was very thankful. To be honest, a part of me didn’t want him to die in my shift.

Then he had gone once again, we resuscitated. He came back again, but then he had gone for good.

And there I stood, facing a dead man in a room full of people who bore no emotion for him. I don’t know why I held his hand for a moment, but I kept staring at him, a part of me hoping for another comeback, and the other part relieved it was finally over. An eerie feeling. But then, this is life, and death happens.

White-coated ramblings: (3) The resident/nurse superiority/inferiority complex!


Source: Google images.

– So what kind of doctors are you?

– A  house officer.

– What is a house officer?

– Basically the hybrid of a nurse and a porter!

Undeniably, we have a defective system, no I’m kidding, we have no system at all! If you’ve ever been to a hospital, you already know that a major part of a nurse’s job is giving injections, obtaining blood samples, blood transfusion, IV salines, inserting cannulae, and monitoring the patients vitals (blood pressure, temperature, etc.). 

Since the very first day as a house officer, I’ve been doing all of the above, and because there’s no such thing as porters, I’m also the one sent with patients’ files and blood samples to finish the paperwork. I haven’t done a single task that required any of the medical knowledge I earned in the past 7 years. I no longer even know what nurses are for, I mean beside mastering the art of  humiliating and delaying you!

  • Example: A patient is so feverish and needs an immediate IV antipyretic. I am the one responsible, so I go to the nurse and beg for the medication. She refuses, and demands the patient’s file first, which should’ve been with her in the first place. I don’t have the file, so I call the resident, and she tells me I should find it with the nurse. And the vicious cycle goes on until I find the file on the nurse’s desk! Meanwhile, the patient remains feverish!

While you try your best to get the above mentioned tasks attained, residents (who mostly have narcissistic issues) can do whatever it takes to abort them. I have to admit that my residents so far are kind enough to teach me and thank me for my efforts, but I get sent daily to other departments to request consultations and interventions, and I almost always get shooed like a cockroach or treated like I didn’t exist. It’s so pathetic that some residents are so delusional they believe they are the Gods of their specialty!

  • Example: A 3-month-old boy needs a urinary catheter. The pediatric resident doesn’t want to catheterize him, so she sends me to surgery hospital looking for a urinary tract resident. I request the procedure, but the resident ignores me as if I’m a mosquito buzzing around his head. When he finally responds, he tells me to wait. I wait for an hour, but he never shows up!

The only reason I put up with this crap, is because I once believed I could help make patients’ quality of life better, which right now sounds very naïve and ridiculous! Now one only gotta do this for the sake of God and nothing else!

 

 

 

Confessions of a semi-doctor: (6) Signs!


“A good doctor is a good observer.” Our professors keep saying! In fact, the effort a medical student exerts revolves mostly around obtaining that fine skill of watching. It’s all about scanning your patients for clues, and grasping threads that lead you to a close view of whatever illness they have.. Things referred to as “signs” in every medical book..

Source: Google images.

It’s confusing as you begin learning, for it ain’t that easy to “decode” those “signs”, analyze them and get a conclusion within few minutes, but eventually your eyes end up detecting random passers-by in the street!

The other day, I saw a slowly walking old man with shivering lips. I found myself subconsciously observing the tremors appearing in his hands, then “Parkinsonism” came on my mind! Today, I saw a man with a staring look and protruding eyes, I automatically shifted my gaze to his neck pulsations to find them pounding strongly, then “Thyrotoxicosis” gleamed in my head!!

I know it’s awkward, but if you found someone staring at you, don’t freak out, it might be a harmless doctor trying to figure out what you have! 😛 😛

Confessions of a semi-doctor: (4) Marching to “Tahrir”..


I should’ve posted this earlier, but I was dead-tired! I’m not fit for standing on my feet that long! But it was totally worth it!

Finally, I’ve spoken my mind out and set my imprisoned anger free! As I was abroad during Jan. 25th revolution, frustration was eating my heart out till two days ago, when I let it all out!

Joining “El Tahrir doctors” march to Tahrir square during the past two days has made me see a different side of Egyptians, a golden side.. Protesters there are definitely neither thugs nor “infiltrators”; I could see kids as well as people in the age of my grandparents.  The square had brought the poor and the wealthy, the ignorant and the educated all together.. Well, the word “Egyptians” sums the scene best!

Everybody was more than welcomed, but I never expected that going there “white-coated” has that very special impact! Since the first moment of our entrance, we were overwhelmed by clapping and whistling!
At the field hospital, people who offered free medical supplies and food were countless, they got us piles! Volunteers too, whether medical students or doctors, were way too many that I felt my presence useless.. I was just standing there holding a bottle of saline and literally doing nothing when a woman came by and patted my shoulder saying “God bless you!”, I never thought of myself that way before, but to that simple woman, I was a life saver!

They were only two days, I didn’t go today and regret it terribly. Something keeps telling me that I belong there; at Tahrir, “the capital of freedom”..

Here’s November 21st’s march:

Coffee for the heart..


I’m so in love with these lyrics..The way they described our relationship with GOD really amazed me.. They’re so touching! 🙂

Written by: Mo’ez Mas’oud(*):

There are nights when I can’t sleep… I’m never sure why..

And the doctors they keep telling me… you should lead a healthy life..

But a voice keeps telling me that I’m supposed to cry, and i’m still trying to figure out why I like living lies..

You know I could never really count… all the things you’ve given me, and when you take you’re really giving.. but that’s not what I always see..

And I carry on takin’ and livin’ my life and I send you all my bills.. And you know that it feels good in the morning yet at nighttime it kills..

And I still can’t seem to close my eyes, and the doctors still keep telling me you should lead a healthy life…

And what really drives me crazy is how much you love to give,

you watch me take like crazy, I don’t thank but you still give…

And I carry on taking’ and livin’ my life and I send you all my bills and you know it feels good in the morning yet at nighttime it kills..

And even now as you inspire me, my heart’s gone out again..

It amazes me how fast it can fall asleep and wake again

If there was coffee for the hearts, baby hook me up… with a life supply..

I wanna make sure that my heart’s alive so I can close my eyes..

Cause there are some who wakes up every morning and their heart is still asleep..

And I can’t even close my eyes without this coffee of mine..

And I carry on takin’ and livin’ my life and I send you all my bills.. And it don’t even feel good in the morning and at nighttime it kills…

There are nights when I can’t sleep and I’m never sure why and the doctors they keep telling me… you should lead a healthy life!

***

(*) Mo’ez Mas’oud is a well-known Egyptian host of television and radio shows about Islam in both English and Arabic.

Here’s the song: