I breathe a sigh of relief when I arrive and the GP’s room is still empty, and I sidle in and sit there inconspicuously reading some old notes. And then the intern spots me, informs me that my doctor is currently doing ward rounds at the hospital and that I am oh, 75 minutes late. When I arrive he is halfway through ward rounds, and his assistant is the scary boss nurse. Gulp. I apologise, explaining that I thought we were at the clinic today. He says, “that’s alright – I thought I had a day off!”
It’s a busy day. I get to do a lot of paperwork (yay!), and when the doctor heads back to the clinic, he leaves me at the hospital to admit a lady who comes in with acute chest pain. The nurse does most of the work, preparing the admission folder and gathering equipment, but she is kind enough to let me take bloods and examine the patient. I try not to look silly, writing in the progress notes, and she waves a random paper in front of my face and asks if I’ll be using this in the next few minutes? I have no idea what it is, so I just say no-no you can take that for now, and I suddenly feel all important. That feeling lasts until I wander out of the room for 5minutes, return to find my patient missing, panic, and have the cleaning lady inform me that the patient has gone for her chest X-ray. Oh good.
I have 15 minutes for lunch, and in that 15 minutes the electrician arrives to test my oven’s temperature regulator. He concludes that it’s normal for an oven set to 150 degrees to fluctuate between 135 and 175, and that maybe I should “go to a search engine and type electric plus oven plus cook ...” sigh.
After lunch I enter the doctor’s office while he is in a consultation with a young girl and her mother. As I close the door the little girl asks, “is that another doctor?” and even after we all inform her that I’m not a doctor yet, the little girl declares, “she can check me.” Later, she is running around the office, and picks up a urine sample from the desk and asks what it is. Her mum tells her, “don’t be silly, you know what it is! Don’t you?” and the girl looks down and says, “my piddle”.
Not long after, a mother brings her 9-year-old boy in because he has an earache post-tonsillitis. The doctor asks, “do you feel ill?” and the boy agrees that he does. “In what way?” the doctor asks. “Um ... both?” hazards the boy.
I finish my day by seeing a man who has had an accident whilst making trainer-wheels for his grandkid’s bicycle, and sliced his thumb with a piece of steel. My GP is in a bit of a hurry, so he injects the local anaesthetic and then runs off to see another urgent patient. I am left behind in the rush, and next thing I know, a different doctor comes in and announces, “it’s just you and me! Let’s stitch up this hand!” So we take a suture each and start working from separate ends of the wound. This is my second effort at suturing a real live person, and it’s much easier once you realise just how hard it is to get through the skin. My sutures are a lot neater too. In the end, the other doctor has to go and pick up his daughter, so leaves me to do the last few sutures on my own. I feel so grown-up.
And I didn’t even know I was on call today.