Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The Tower of Babble

I wanted to write a post about a Christmas dinner I went to, or maybe about the New Year's Eve I had but that two will have to wait. I am once again swamped tonight by an assignment I shouldn't be doing - or rather, an assignment I shouldn't be doing again. The story's like this; I actually finished the darn thing yesterday night but I have lost it somehow. The "somehow" involves my leaving the stupid papers at a patient's bed - I put them down for a minute when my Medicine Professor told me to find out if that patient has visible jugulo-venous pulsations (whatever that means to you) and BAM! I forgot to pick them up afters. Alright, I made that up. There's no BAM! sound effect every time I forget something (in a perfect universe, there should be, so I'd stop forgetting), but everything else I said is true. I walked out of the hospital to my car but there was still no BAM! I went to lunch, I finished lunch, BAM! not forthcoming. I went home for a minute to pick up some stuff for the afternoon lectures - no BAM! there either.

I took blood from a patient's vein today. The first successful time, this is. The first time I tried taking blood though, was yesterday - but I don't want to talk about that. I just want to brag about today. This is one of those milestones in med school, y'know. This separates me from the rest who have never drew blood before, and puts me firmly in the fraternity of hypodermic vampires those who have. And more to the point, this is the first thing I did since I joined this college three years ago that actually benefits a patient.

An iced latte in a Starbucks tall cup and an empty Starbucks mug stood side by side in front of me while I was scratching feverishly on a piece of foolscap paper - one of many I will be writing on that night. I was making surprisingly good progress though if nothing else. I kept glancing at my watch, and time seems to have slowed down noticeably. That's what caffeine does to me, and if you've watched the finale of the 2006 computer animated flick, Over The Hedge, the one which has Avril Lavigne voicing an opposum (or the climax of the lesser known 2005 animated movie, Hoodwinked!, a Rashomon treatment of the tale of the Red Riding Hood) you'd have an inkling of what I was going through. Wait, does this mean Over The Hedge plagiarised Hoodwinked!? Cripes, I got to focus on this infernal assignment! Why the fuck do I have to keep forgetting stuff! And why the fuck do I keep remembering useless crap? Get out of my mind, movie trivia! Git!

It's when I'm right outside my college's back gate that total recall booby slapped me. I drove right back to the hospital for my errant papers and found that they weren't there. I looked everywhere; under the patient's bed, under the bed of the adjacent patients, in every wastepaper basket and every bio-hazard bin. I looked so hard that the nurses took pity on me and helped me look. One said she saw the papers at about one o'clock, but has not seen them since. The patient whose bed I left them at told me some student nurses were fiddling about his bed earlier and might have taken the papers. What do student nurses want with notes on vaginal discharge, lactation and contraception anyway? Hypothetical question, this. Don't answer, please.

A medical officer who has a name which sounds like Uma Thurman's asked me if I would like a chance to take blood from a patient today (just like yesterday too, but nope, I'm still not talking about it). Strangely, I said yes (again, like yesterday - but, gah), showing enthusiasm I never suspect I had. Well, I never suspect I had it yesterday in the first place. This narration is confusing me now but anyway, everyone in my college knows just how apathetic I am. I'm like a zombie in a white coat, never caring yet somehow making it this far. Today, however (or yesterday, whatever), it's all starting to make sense to me.

So I'm stuck with having to do the assignment all-fucking-over again. I'm surprisingly fine with it, considering how long I took to do it the first time. Phoebe called me while I was at a coffee shop waiting for a friend in the evening, and she told me that if she's in my place, she'd be
"very sad". She didn't say she will cry though. She never said she will cry before actually, come to think of it. Anyway, as I was saying; I'm a realist. Practicality falls out of my pockets every time I dig for change. I don't give in easily to pointless emoting or dramatics or empty yakking. If there's a problem, I fix it. Very manly, I think. Quite Martian, in fact. John Gray told me that Venusians don't admire this trait of mine.

I got to the coffee shop at about five to 5:30 pm today. I was suppose to meet a friend for dinner there but since I already ate, I was just there for dessert - and would you believe it? I forgot my book (gosh darn you, lousy memory!). I always bring a book wherever I go in case I arrive early and have to wait for people. It distracts me and keeps me from blowing a fuse, see. Anyway, the book I didn't bring with me was Richard Adam's Watership Down and it's about an epic fantasy novel about bunnies. Yeap, bunnies. Rabbits. Not anthropomorphised ones either mind you, yet somehow, it managed to be bloody damn mature. I mean, Adams actually managed to paint a pretty in-depth picture of a society of bunnies possessing a rich lore, culture and language system while managing to stay true to the zoological features of the species. There's a scene where a doe rabbit was supposedly asked to see an officer - a buck - for the purpose of mating. And apparently, that doe was "not ready to mate". Now, that's a mistake. I know for a fact that female rabbits can apparently experience a phenomenon called induced ovulation, which means that their ovaries will release eggs whenever they, pardon the expression, 'fuck like rabbits'. And that means, they are always ready. Don't ask me how I know that. I don't remember when or where I read that.

So, I found myself a kidney dish - the sort which doctors drop bullets extracted from gunshot victims into in TV or movies - and dropped a couple of needles, a syringe, some cotton swabs and a stand-in tourniquet in the form of a latex glove into it. Act professional, like I know what I'm doing. This is gonna be a walk, I'm telling you unlike yesterday. I strolled as nonchalantly as I could to the patient I'm suppose to be poking a needle into, wondering if I should whistle as I did (but my good sense disagreed). A few of my colleagues were following behind me, possibly hoping to watch my epic failure but I'll just assume they were following me to give me all the moral and technical support I needed. Lovely lot. Then, I saw the patient - and my heart dropped right into my left shoe, making mocking squishy noises as it fell.

The plan I formulated is this; Camp at Starbucks tonight, buy a latte, claim a free cup of java with one of those buy-one-free-one coupons I have lying around in my room, and try to finish as much as I am able. Then, I come home and finish whatever I couldn't while I'm still riding the caffeine high. Gosh, this is the first time I have to redo a very time-gobbling, very tedious, very mind-numbing task all over again from the start. And for the very first time, I think I'm finally grasping just
how insanely cruel Sisyphus' punishment is.

Then, I received an SMS from the guy I was waiting for saying that he would be 15 minutes late. Normally, I expect this from everyone but that guy was someone who is usually punctual. In fact, he once told me himself how important punctuality is to him. Not that I mind a quarter of an hour that much but I didn't have a book with me. Also, I wasn't exactly having the best day of my life either, what with those stupid papers I forgot and have to work on again from scratch later that night. Phoebe called and I ranted to her a little, but calling from India ain't cheap, so we didn't keep at it long. At five to 5:45 pm, I finished eating what I went there to eat and my friend still have not show up. At about two minutes after 5:45, I just stood up and left.

The poor soul looked really ill. Like, really, really ill. He's gagging, presumably because there's still vomit in his throat. The rest of the vomit not in him was all over his gown. I feel sorry for him and sorrier still I felt because he'd have to suffer me and my un-honed, unproved needling skillz. Also, did I mention I was internally freaking the hell out, doing cartwheels and playing pinball with all the annoying lights and pings going off? You don't see all that emotions on my face though. And you still don't see them when I greet the patient with a big cheerful smile, while receiving absolutely no response from him at all OMG he's not smiling or saying hi back whatamIgonnadooo?!!! Alright, his wife did smile at me so that's something. NO PROCEDURES ON LEFT ARM, said a sigh hanging behind him from the bedpost. So, with that Stepford smile still on my face, I asked him to extend his right elbow (but again, no reaction from him). Alrighty sir, I'll help you with that then. His right elbow, I discovered, was as rigid as a lead pipe. I straightened it out as gently as I could. Tie tourniquet. Next, needle and syringe. Swab tentative puncture spot. Now, where's that vein? Where are yooouuu, Mr Vein? I couldn't see it! DON'T PANIC! Feel for it... feel for it... feelinnnggg... AHA! EN GARDE!!! *stab* Nooow, I just need to withdraw the plunger gently and shit! this is where I screwed it up yesterday nooooo... JEEZUS, I cannot tell you just how relieved I was when blood red flooded the syringe. The patient didn't seem to notice anything happened at all. 'He did it!' a colleague said behind me. Yes, I did it. Yes, I did.

I received a miss call from him a little while later from that friend of mine, presumably because he had arrived and found that I wasn't there. 'I finished eating, so I left' was what I said when I text him back. I really didn't feel like staying and watching other people eat.

Soon, I drained the iced latte as well. The caffeine jitters were hitting me pretty hard and I could hardly hold my pen steady. I don't think I have ever had so much coffee in me before. On my left arm was a whole crop of wheals, courtesy of my right hand which couldn't stop fidgeting and scratching. I suffer (sorta) from a condition known as dermatographic urticaria, and if I haven't told you about it, remind me to do so someday. It's really quite cool and Phoebs thinks so too (and if you already know what dermatographic urticaria is, you can probably guess why). Along with all that - I might be imagining this though, I can't be sure - I think I'm actually hearing better. Or maybe it's just that barrista cranking up his volume. Good lordy, his fake accent just jars at my soul like... like... a bajillion rusty wheelchairs squeaking all at once!

There! I finish the two thirds I aimed for, and right at 10:00 pm too. Now, I can go piss. Two hours plus two big cups of coffee makes for a lot of tinkle, I can tell you. Hey, that's pretty amazing, actually - I managed to finish in two hours what I originally used three and a half hours to accomplish! I sure am glad I keep myself caffeine sensitive. Never know when you might need the emergency boost.

"You did it", said Uma Thurman and gave me a little clap after I passed her two vials half-full of my crimson prize. I thanked her for letting me try again considering what happened yesterday but she thanked me back instead, saying that I actually saved her a bit of trouble by doing so. Damn, you should have seen that so-bloody-full-of-myself grin on me. Biggest one of the new year, I should think. By the way, I learnt three very important pointers today regarding venipuncture that I think everyone should go in knowing. And I don't think they are available in any textbook or manual (at least, not in the way I'm going to word them) which is a shame because I wish I knew them the first time round. They are;
  • No, tie that tourniquet tighter.
  • Don't look for it, dammit - FEEL for it!
  • It's deeper than you think it is.
Now that I have done it, I can tell everyone that it is NOTHING like doing it on a mannequin in the practical skills lab back in Manipal. If you haven't done it, you'll be finding that out soon, fellow medicos. I, on the other hand, have passed my rite of passage.

However, all that caffeine is affecting me in a bad way. My piss smells like coffee. And I think I need to poop.

Anyway this post is some pretty fucked up shit. I wouldn't have read this if I were you.

It's not like I have nothing better to do.

I don't think coffee is good for me.

Now, I think I'll go finish that piece on vaginal discharge before the caffeine buzz fizzles out.



bevE said...

wth -_-

bevE said...

1. waaaay colourful.

2. coffee did this? -_- *doubtful*

3. feels like those emails that make u do ridiculous things and then call u stupid for doing them. yours is a class above that. :D since u didnt actually call us stupid for doing it.

4. so boring to read la.

5. din read much all.

6. SCREAMED 'ADVERTISEMENT' to me. you listed off so many names, books, movies, american capitalist chain stores..

7. i want the papers on lactation, vag discharge and contraception. :D gimme ur assignment can ah?

8. *just hit me* why didnt u save it on ur laptop?

AP said...

hmmm Watership Down sounds great- if only i didnt have towering fines on my library card- it was in Donnie Darko, must watch Donnie Darko if you haven't already

oh yeahh i could try used bookstores^^

senorita.. said...

erm.... there really are funny signs in this post rite? i am not imagining them up rite? do they mean anything at all..?

n cool post! =)

senorita.. said...

scratch that comment. that's me being idiotic.

still, cool post!!

k0k s3n w4i said...

bevE: this is just an experiment. i just wanted to see what I'll come up with when I don't censor myself (while concurrently having two cups of java in me) - and am a sadistic bastard to my readers. anyway, I never write adverts - and why do u want my assignment for >_>

AP: Your library has Donnie Darko? You must not be living in Malaysia then. Anyway, if you don't mind reading an entire novel in a MSWord file format (and has no moral qualms about breaking copyright laws), CLICK HERE. It's less than half a megabyte in size.

senorita..: funny... signs? nope, dun getcha at all. I meant this post to be unreadable actually :D.

AP said...

i take utmost joy in breaking textbook copyright laws :P was crushed when textbooktorrents died but the spirit lives on copyright has its uses but hindering osmotic transmission of great works be it music film literature should not be one of them eh? thx for the link the weekend may turn out fine afterall^^

Inn Shan said...

that's psychotic!
to read, copy weird text and paste to notepad. that's the easiest way.

hehe, i think it's d first time u r utilising coloured text!

i did withdraw blood a few times in medicine. but you'll get more chance at community medicine postings!!! it'll be easier to withraw blood from mother since they have physiological increase in plasma volume and their veins are more prominent compared to old aunties..!!! :D

bevE said...

dermatographic urticaria is not fun >_> nor cool <_< u crazy ah