Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Ultimate Examination.

I like to think of myself as a pretty practical person. I also believe that there is always a better, more efficient way of doing things out there ... I just have to find it. Tedious time-consuming tasks drive me crazy. Rules and regulations exhaust me. Boundaries and limits just freak me out. But with advancing age, I slowly seem to understand the logic behind all these things... or so I think ...

In my early registrar years, "the system", drove me insane. I was so sure that it could be done better, faster, and more efficiently. In retrospect, if there was any such possibility, the prof and co, would've implemented it! Ah .... the ignorance of idealistic youth ... But still, I hated the endless waiting and inefficiency, that often ruined my days.

Cutting time was 8 o' clock. Morning meeting was 7 o'clock. In the beginning, I tried my best to miss the morning meetings. They were false and scary, and not the greatest way to ensure good karma for the rest of the day. Plus I could sleep an extra half hour!! In those days it still mattered how much sleep I got. I was young and in pretty good shape, so yes dammit ... sleep was good.

If all calculations were done correctly, I had to be in theatre at the latest 7:30. Had to queue up for my drugs, then prepare for the first case. Didn't take too long if you were the only one in the queue, but by then, the morning meeting was over, and a mad rush for drugs and equipment ensued.

So, I got smart. Instead of queuing for drugs everyday, I queued up once a week. Saved myself hours every month. By drugs I mean schedule 7 stuff like morphine, pethidine and other opioids. Stuff that susceptible individuals could get hooked on. Thank the Lord I never had any such issues. We had special drug sheets where everything we used on patients was written up and checked. The sheets looked so old and forgotten that I often wondered if anyone ever actually checked them.

Got my answer soon enough...

We also had a huge restroom, with 3 beds, an almost fully equipped kitchenette and a TV. When it was quiet we'd all sit around there socialising and drinking coffee. Initially I did a lot of calls and every chance I got I would lie down on one of the beds and try to catch up on some sleep.

A couple of months down the line, I had perfected my own personal little system. Half way through my list that particular day, I got a message. The prof wanted to see me in his office ... STAT.

STAT ... well ... that didn't bode well, but I couldn't for the life of me think of any serious screw-ups I'd made. A senior colleague watched over my case as I walked into the lion's den.

The prof ... and his very clever, and very attractive right-hand consultant. I do believe I have mentioned this guy before. Both looking at me very intently. My drug sheets were spread out on his desk, and suddenly I knew, my little system had been discovered! Phew!! Nothing serious after all, so I promptly relaxed.

Five minutes into the interrogation, and my stomach was in knots. Why, where, how, when, how much, what??????? It felt like I was on some kind of trial! They suspected me of drug abuse!!! Over and over I explained my system, how I tried to save time in the mornings and miss the rush. Nothing. That I was lazy and wanted more sleep. Nothing. Look at the sheets I urged them, I collect just enough for one weeks worth of cases, nothing more. Surely if I was using it myself I would be taking a lot more??? Still nothing. I couldn't believe these guys. I'd thought I was reasonably liked and respected in the department, little did I realise that they had been watching me for all this time. And this was their conclusion!!! Every time I lay down, they thought I was drugged!! It was ridiculous and unthinkable, they really didn't know me at all.

I knew I had nothing to worry about. My sheets were correct and I kept all my anaesthetic charts, so on paper I was clean, but that was part of the problem. Most druggies always were ok on paper, everything always added up ... They would have to do some checks prof said. Ok sure!! Blood tests, urine samples, anything, no problem!!

Well first we need to check for any puncture sites - at least you never wear long sleeves or multiple layers beneath your scrubs. So lets go please ... upper body first, then lower body, including feet.
What like a strip-search??? Here and now??? Basically. Why do both of you need to check??? The prof was old enough to be my dad, but the younger guy, well ....
Witnesses are necessary for the report. Geez, this was getting worse and worse!! Firstly I needed to get practically naked before my boss and his side-kick. Secondly at that specific point I couldn't remember what underwear I was wearing. Thirdly the allegations and reports sounded pretty serious. Fourthly, I was innocent.

I tried for humor. Come now prof, you can't be serious? I'm ok and I don't do this kind of thing, really! A detailed explanation and I knew where I stood. They were the only two in the department who were aware of this issue. They didn't believe that I was guilty, but well one never knows and I had to be checked out. Apparently they'd had two positive cases in the not too distant past. They were just doing their jobs and if I hadn't been trying to cut corners, none of this would be necessary. I had the right to involve someone else if I wanted to, but they could do the examination, clear me of all the nonsense and nobody would be any wiser. At least I was given the choice. This was not a case of the more, the merrier ...

I whipped off the scrubs, turned this way and that way till they were satisfied. My underwear matched, but luckily they didn't seem to notice. It was over pretty quickly and obviously I had passed the test, flawless, unpunctured skin. Thank you Dior. The atmosphere was much friendlier suddenly. Ok, now go lie on the bed in the tearoom, have some coffee, and collect your drugs daily like everyone else.

I learnt a valuable lesson that day, and they were fortunate to be graced with my pre-pregnancy body. Otherwise both parties might have been scarred for life.

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