ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, April 01, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 44

Braving the blues

Finally the tiredness was catching up. Things I'd do without a second thought suddenly required a huff and a puff. I was also getting irritable, losing my patience quickly.I was becoming a grumpy doctor, something I promised myself I'd never be.

Covered in sea of work with no sign of land anywhere it was tempting to drink the salt water and be like everyone else. The only thing that saved me was luck. Luckily I was getting the weekend off. After listening to some Black Eyed Peas tracks and 10 hours of good sleep on my old bed everything seemed different.

It was quite a startling thing. I'd met many a grumpy doctor in my life, and I suddenly understood how it happened. Inexcusable in every sense, it really is a combination of living in a warped time scale and being under pressure continuously- being expected never to make a mistake that seems to push people to a state of constant cynicism.

The admission numbers that had seen a lull in the past few weeks were suddenly rising. Suddenly the dreaded flood was building up. With beds all taken up, patients were on the floor on mats. Basically patients were everywhere. It was no fun being sick and being on a mat on a hospital floor.

They had to be discharged as soon as possible. So while we were admitting more patients we were also discharging more. So in fact our workload had increased not twofold but by three.

The bulk of the admissions to the ward were patients with fever. There was also a sizable number who came complaining of loose stools. Having taken up the job of admitting patients and having wracked my brain as to how admissions to hospitals could be reduced, the answers were quite simple. Educate the parents, improve hygiene. Two very simple things- for a house officer doing the admissions, preventive medicine seemed a wonderful field!

The cure to the common viral fever would surely be the medical answer of the century. And the greatest medical invention of the century would be a simple device that would provide intravenous access without actually having to pierce a vein or better still some way to get to the cells directly.

Meanwhile the clinics were also heavy. Being a wheezer myself and having argued all my life that I wasn't an asthmatic (which I probably am), it was shocking to note the number of asthmatic children who came to the clinics. They easily formed the majority of the clinic patients. Most of them were on inhalers at a young age.

I found myself convincing parents and children that the inhaler was much safer than tablets, ironical in a sense when I myself had to be convinced of the same thing when I was a kid. Because of the inhaler asthma had not been a barrier to anything for me. It had given me a lot of freedom and I had ended up being quite a good athlete.

The government provides free inhalers and the cost must surely be high but unlike some other expensive drugs the providing of which is purely humanitarian, this expense surely would also pay dividends in the long run.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.