Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Room With A View

I sit in with the Gastroenterologist today. He spins his chair to throw me a friendly greeting, then turns back to the window. He faces the window and tells me about his family. He stares out the window and quizzes me about my background. Maintains perfect eye contact with that window as we chat about his career. The patients come in and tell him about their bowel habits, their stomas, their colostomy bags, their embarrassing accidents. He is sympathetic. He is attentive. He stares out the window. I sit there for three hours, 9 o'clock 'til 12 o'clock, wondering how he can be so entranced with his view. After all, his window only faces a car park.

And then we head to theatre.

12 o'clock to 9 o'clock (travelling forwards in time, unfortunately). 17 patients. The Gastroenterologist alternates between endoscopies and colonoscopies so the nurses have time to clean each instrument. And he stands there, staring at his monitor, for nine whole hours. He takes us all for a tour through the insides of his patients, flying through the oesophagus, down into the stomach and further into the small bowel. For the less fortunate, our tour begins at the rectum, the camera moving upwards through the gastrointestinal tract ... "we're in the sigmoid colon now" ... "can you see his appendix?". I am an eager student. I ask obvious questions. I try my best to laugh at his jokes. I stare at the monitor with its dizzying view, trying to keep up as the camera zooms about, moving backwards and forwards, around and around. And it isn't long before I feel the need to find a nice sturdy window with a boring, steady view - and just stare out.

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