The one-year housemanship is a period of intense work under supervision, for freshly qualified doctors. We house-officers in fact sometimes refer to ourselves as “house-boys” to the more senior doctors in our team who over-look our duty.
And so it was for me. I was on call-duty right after the daily 8.00 a.m. – 4.00 p.m. routine; the call duty extending right into the night until the next morning, and for three Complaints months at a stretch. At that present time I was covering the male intensive care ward – ward A2.
I was concentrating on taking blood-samples early one morning, from this Diabetic man whose right leg we were going to amputate below the knee, soon. He needed this drastic surgery to survive his rotten, diabetic foot. I was busy taking my samples when this very young student nurse suddenly appeared by the patient’s bed-side, immediately accusing me in a challenging tone. Her grouse with me was that I had made her patient’s bed-side untidy with the objects I had just utilised in drawing my review blood samples. I slowly continued my work by the patient’s bed-side, silently amused as she mumbled some more accusations.
If her intentions were for me to notice her – after all I thought I looked quite the dashing, young, hard-working doctor – she need not have bothered, for I had already been eyeing her for a couple of days already. She was simply attractive in her ever-neat nursing uniform; from her head which was always adorned in her nursing hat, right down to her pair of trendy nursing shoes. Plus, those pair of legs – the solid and shapely kind that I liked; and her nicely rounded back-side that appeared well fitted inside her one-piece uniform that had made me follow her with my eyes whenever she had passed along over the last few days during my team’s ward-rounds.
This kind of romantic distraction, though seemingly ironic as it occurs amongst grave medical matters at hand, offers a ready avenue for health personnel to stay normal, while under intense pressure. Imagine the reality of the fact that in that same ward, a patient had been scuffling with health personnel on duty recently, trying to prevail on them to allow him jump through the glass window. Of course he was quite simply insane with Rabies – a terminal illness when treatment gets started late – and he died a week later.
Or, the case of a rich, State-politician who was dying slowly in that same ward A2, of complications of Hypertension – he had “Stroke” – coupled with Diabetic Keto-Acidosis (a complication of Diabetes). His wife was a very attractive, sad-faced woman who appeared to be so pained each time I observed her by his bed-side. However, because the man had been bed-ridden for very long with the wife needing to go back home every evening, I couldn’t help but consider the possibility that the poor man must by now be feeling frustrated, with ideas dancing about in his head that other men may have begun advancing on his attractive wife! I think I even noticed this in his mannerism whenever she suddenly appeared within eye-shot, on her return. Those moments, he would appear angry and restless. He had lost all ability to speak.