Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Hand

He’s doing a silly little job at work, nothing difficult, nothing laborious, just putting up an antenna for the break-room television. The drill bit slips and attacks his hand, drilling a hole in the webbing between his thumb and forefinger, angling down towards the wrist. His mates take him straight to the medical clinic - it's an emergency - but the nurses only glance briefly at his hand before sitting him down on a bed to await the doctor. Screaming children are given injections, old ladies’ leg ulcers are dressed, and he sits there bleeding. He probably wonders why he’s left to wait.

Finally some girl comes and introduces herself as the medical student. She quickly inspects his wound, asks him to wiggle his thumb around despite his pain, and starts drawing up injections. She looks him in the eye and tells him the local anaesthetic will hurt. He flirts a little, realises it isn’t helping, and sits back and grits his teeth. When his wound is properly numbed he watches, fascinated, as it is first rinsed and then scrubbed with antiseptic. He dabs at the blood running down his wrist.

Like many of the local patients, he asks whether she’s going to be a doctor or a nurse, and seems fairly impressed when he discovers that she will one day be a doctor. He is quite proud of himself when she puzzles over how best to suture his complicated-looking wound. And then the actual doctor arrives with instructions, “you’ll want to put one suture from the outside part here, to this part, and then ... actually I’ll do this one, you watch”.

He is much relieved.

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