29 Jan Memoirs of a medical student 3
The man is intriguing. He is an enmportant personality. He is zat interesting. I don’t know why he is in surgery. He’s so humane. He studies people and their nuances and he cares about the whole patient, including their emotions. It was uncanny the way he was able to read people and their emotions. And his hunches were almost always right. He was one of the few consultants that knew each and everyone of us by our names. He’s super intelligent and enjoyed making people smile. He enjoyed being unpredictable and springing surprises on people. He had a penchant for taking pictures of every thing in sight. He never played with our 7.30 pm appointment with him every evening. It was fun being with him. He could talk about any topic under the sun and was always interested in our opinions. He could talk with us for hours on the ward. He had so many interesting euphemisms for many things-he got our ribs cracking. And he had rules- never say sorry, answer questions without embellishments and never, never, come late for the 7.30 meeting or lean against a table or remove your shoes for whatever reason. Also, everyone had to know everything about all the patients on the ward. Anyway, he took a special place in our heart. And he said he was going to miss us. But I wouldn’t do justice to our stay with the doctor if I didn’t give at least two anecdotes about him.
On our first day with him, R a classmate of ours showed neuroglycopenic signs of hypoglycaemia. She was sweating profusely, was dizzy and weak. The consultant noticed immediately and made her sit down. Golden H.O( as the house officer in the unit was popularly called) came to the rescue with a bottle of coke but Dr. Tony stopped him. Said it could make the hypoglycaemia worse that the last time he was hypoglycaemic he took a bottle of coke and he fainted right on the spot. All the blood had rushed to his head. Said he couldn’t explain the mechanism but R did not need the coke. I don’t know whether R felt a bit disappointed; I know I would have. Gallant T started fanning her, she was sweating so much but he did it in such a way, bending down and staring closely at her that Dr. Tony said he was taking undue advantage of the situation and while the rest of us moved on he left someone behind to chaperone them. As we went on, he had C examine a patient’s abdomen. Her high-pitched voice when she was reporting made him shake his head in incredulity. But he gently told her that her bedside manner was poor as she only needed to lightly palpate the abdomen and not bang on it like she was doing. He made her practice on his back and he obviously derived a great deal of pleasure from it as he made little sounds of satisfaction as she palpated his back. When we made little sounds of disapproval, he was quick to defend himself.
“Hey, they’re not paying us well so all we get are these little perks.”
His: “Good. That feels good,” drew not a few titters from us while C looked uncomfortable. He also regaled us with francoangolian speeches.
“See zat,” he’d say pointing to an X-ray. “Voila,” he’d call out at intervals.
“That’s very enmportant,” he’d say at times.
There was one time ok twice I got in trouble with him. The first was when he made us all go and change our shoes because we were wearing slippers to our 7.30 pm appointment(we had to wear shoes at all times) and he berated some of us for coming about 4 minutes late. When we finally came back, we talked about movies, politics, C’s incredible voice and a lot of non-medical stuff before he asked if there were questions. One lady then asked for him to teach us rectal examination; he had paired us up into buddy groups of two each that day and I happened to be this lady’s partner. So he said no problem he would teach her using me as the subject and the rest of the students would watch. I didn’t say anything because I was sure he couldn’t be serious. There was no way on earth that I could be used to teach rectal examination. He scouted around for a bed and found one towards the end of the ward, found one that was unoccupied and then he wondered aloud what we were going to use as sheets on the bed. I still held my peace thinking it was all a big joke.
Then he said: “Voila!” and I knew he had found a solution. He requested all the students to donate their lab coats as sheets for the bed. Then he got up from the table and worked towards the bed, gesturing for us all to follow him. The students began to remove their lab coats and I realised that I was about to be exposed to the outside world.
“Sir, sir,” I said nervously. “Don’t you think since K was the one who suggested it then we should use her as the subject first? She would learn better if it’s first practiced on her.”
Heshook his head. “Well, she might feel what we’re doing but she might not be able to see what we’re doing and she needs to see it to learn to do a good rectal. Now, get on the bed.”
I began to feel a bit of panic. Was this really going to happen?
The other students began to screen the bed while I searched for something to say to stop them from committing this crime.
“Go on, get on the bed,” he said when he saw I made no move to undress.
“Sir…” I stammered and then suddenly he smacked himself on the head.
“Oh no I’ve forgotten that we have rounds tomorrow. If you guys use your coats for a bed sheet, that means I won’t be able to sand the smell of you at ward rounds tomorrow because you won’t be able to have washed off the entrails from this rectal exam by then. It’s already 10 pm.” He turned to K. “We’ll do this some other time.” I heaved a great sigh of relief while the rest of the students laughed. Dr. Felix was still humane after all. My bacon had been saved. It had after all been a big joke and even though he didn’t mention it, I know he enjoyed the sight of me sweating and stammering immensely.