Wednesday, 11 June 2008
When I first started work on the trauma ward at the Infirmary I quickly got used to the many varieties of the human species. The doddery old pensioner who had long since lost what had once been a brain, the drunk who saw the door in the ceiling being opened, and the fellow who cried out 'Fire' at two in the morning, much to the disgust of those hanging from various 'scaffolding' which was holding their broken bones in place.
Being in hospital allows those secrets we keep to ourselves to escape. We are away from family and friends and the usual run of things and this disruption can be confusing as well as annoying. Under the influence of drugs our minds can wander and we may find ourselves walking through the streets in our pyjamas or informing the doctor not to stand there because he may' harm the white rabbit.' You may be interested to know that this comment enables a patient to be transferred to the Royal Edinburgh within half an hour, a time frame other transfers could not then achieve.
The sight of patients going home is indeed a comforting one for hospital staff, especially if they are bonkers or violent. One we had was certainly a bit lacking in understanding. He was what today we refer to as 'Chav's' but then, in a more practical age, was referred to as a 'nutter.' Playing happily with a woman he found her husband coming through the door. Naturally he did what we all would do and jumped out of the window. I like to think I would have contemplated the three floors he fell down first before jumping myself but we never know do we? Anyway he landed in such a fashion as to break his leg and the husband involved endeavoured to give first aid in bets Musselburgh fashion - by kicking his head in! I am left wondering what sort of lass she was if she was involved with idiot 'a' and what was her actual,man like if involved with her, idiot 'b?' Anyway Idiot 'a' had his leg encased in plaster and eleven (11) times took it off himself because 'It itched.' I recall the registrar, as firm but fair man, informing him that he was now blacklisted and if the plaster was removed again that was his tough luck. He did not return, possibly because the senior registrar has loomed over him when in the bed a day or so before questioning his thermometer reading. 'Usually,' he said in a voice tinged with satire and threat,'people with a temperature of '108' are dead. Why aren't you?' The ward population, sitting in stony silence eager for the reply did their best to stifle the giggling.
This ward population were not the silent type, this was Edinburgh after all. They were most keen to speak when they considered it needful and one of our noble consultants constantly played into their hands by his actions. Each day a consultant would come and inspect his patients, and this one (called Mr Little?) in the usual way brought a few students and a nurse and wandered to his people. He then proceeded to ignore them! His bedside manner was to totally ignore the patient and concentrate on the X-Rays displayed on the light trolley that one of the students was given charge off. Our man would then indicate the wound, the action taken and the result to be expected. However the patient, naturally anxious and rightfully expecting a word of solace from the great man would be ignored. Edinburgh folk are at heart shy, retiring, kind folks, but not keen on being treated as second class or unimportant. "Hey pal, try telling me, it's ma leg ken?" was a not uncommon utterance from one of the few patients in the ward. Cynics would indicate their presence, "Ahm just here, behind ye doctor. If ye turn roond ye will find me, know what ah mean?" It made no difference. Years of arrogant self importance, a habit with many doctors, had led our hero to be oblivious to such cries. He ignored the pleading voice and moved on. Whether he actually spoke to a patient when unconscious on the theatre table I do not know, but he must have preferred them that way.
All this came to mind when cogitating this list I came across the other day. I am not sure how accurate it may be, but I know this sort of thing does happen, but quite where to get up to date figures I have yet to discover.
3 Scots die each year testing if a 9v battery works on their tongue.
142 Scots were injured in 1999 by not removing all pins from new shirts.
58 Scots are injured each year by using sharp knives instead of screwdrivers.
31 Scots have died since 1996 by watering their Christmas tree while the fairy lights were plugged in.
19 Scots have died in the last 3 years believing that Christmas decorations were chocolate.
Scottish Hospitals reported 4 broken arms last year after Xmas cracker-pulling accidents.
18 Scots had serious burns in 2000 trying on a new jumper with a lit cigarette in their mouth.
A massive 543 Scots were admitted to A&E in the last two years after trying to open bottles of beer with their teeth.
5 Scots were injured last year in accidents involving out-of-control Scalextric cars.
In 2000 eight Scots were admitted to hospital with fractured skulls incurred whilst throwing up into the toilet.
The list forgets to add the dozen or so who are hospitalised each year because they burn themselves while ironing clothes they are wearing!
Take care out there!