Saturday, June 26, 2010

Working too hard

By early last week, I had done so many ED shifts in a row that I felt constantly on the verge of a temper tantrum.

Nurse: "What time do you want the next troponin on Mr Smith?"
Lucy: "WHY DON'T YOU JUST LEAVE ME ALONE???"

I found myself seeking solace in the more boring ED activities- quietly suturing a large stab wound on a drunk man's chest, or moulding a plaster for the broken ankle. I felt completely incapable of making any clinical decisions.

On my precious days off we cycled to Simpson's gap. The bicycle track was stunningly beautiful: 20km of meandering paths through low lying, scrubby bushland interspersed with huge ghostgum trees. We scrambled up the gorge to reach the sunny rocks and ate an amazing picnic of roast beef sandwiches, apples and chocolate cake. Enid Blyton would be proud!




Sunday, June 6, 2010

Magic

Many of our indigenous patients also receive traditional healing from a Ngangkari. I would love to find out more about this. I understand the ceremony often involves removing an errant object that is causing illness in the body, for example a misplaced rock.

I often think that medicine as we practise it does not have enough magic. It is thoroughly transparent and mundane, and doesn't engage the beliefs of our patients well enough.

Early Western medicine had more magic! For example, the secretive use of obstetric forceps during a difficult delivery: the forceps hidden under the operator's gown, before bringing forth the (often dead) baby. Though this particular example is mired more in patent concerns than the powers of culturally-embedded healing.

The other day I sedated an Aboriginal boy with ketamine and when he awoke he spoke English for the first time. Perhaps I shall have to settle for this small wonder.