Tuesday, November 27, 2012

DoA

Every now and then we get a Dead on Arrival come to ED.

When people are found dead, they need to be 'certified'.  That is to say, you're not dead until the paperwork's done.

A few weeks ago I went to certify a DoA that arrived about 4am.  The body was in a hearse in the ambulance bay, attended by two old, ocker funeral workers.

I realised as I approached them that I'd forgotten a torch, to check the dead person's eyes.  I said to  the men, half-jokingly, 'Oh, I forgot my pupil-torch.'

To which one of the men replied, 'Oh don't worry love, he hasn't got eyes.'

Awesome.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Homeopathy, existentialism, Stegner.

Jason and I have returned from Western Australia with a suntan and some excellent secondhand books.

First, a pristine copy of 'Homeopathy for Emergencies':


This is a lightweight, pocket-sized alternative to the Australian College of Emergency Medicine's preferred 2100-page tome, 'Tintinalli's Emergency Medicine'.  It covers the core Fellowship Examination syllabus, including appendicitis, acute asthma, heat stroke, fractures and 'crushed fingers and toes'.  I particularly like the ominous image of the smashed bottle with pills on the front.
Perhaps it was the inspiration for the Homeopathic A&E?

My second excellent find was Sartre's 'Quiet Moments in a War', a collection of letters to Simone de Beauvoir during WWII.


Sartre served in some type of meteorological division.  His notes about his own reading- Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty- are fascinating.  But the best parts are Sartre's accounts of mundane army life. He almost seems to enjoy caricaturing himself as a bumbling existentialist-philosopher struggling with the concrete tasks assigned to him.  Here he describes taking a meteorological reading, a task he was required to complete twice each day:
I feel like a civilian meteorologist, living a civilian life that fate denied me, requiring virtues that I lack and that I try, if half-heartedly, to acquire; it's awful how many errors I make in working out the readings.  Actually, they cancel each other out and scarcely show.  But for instance my eyes play tricks on me when I look at the graph paper, landing where they will, and I locate the balloon accordingly.  It's something of a substitute for agoraphobia: I get flustered before vast quadrilinear spaces and settle on any old square, practically demolished it with my pencil point to stop the atrocious torture of floating about with no point of view, like a disembodied consciousness, above the checkerboard. 

Finally, Wallace Stegner's 'Angle of Repose'.  I haven't started this yet, but I am greatly looking forward to it.