Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Work This Afternoon

Only had one doctor this afternoon, due to unforeseen circumstances the other doc left in a hurry. So we were pretty busy, juggling patients and squashing them in where they weren't really fitting, but things still managed to work ok regardless.

I received a call from a young dad asking me if he could bring his 9 month old son in. We were fully 'squashed' by then but I will never turn away a 9 month old, you never know what's happening in those tiny bodies of theirs that they can't articulate to you at that age. Dad said son had a temperature and he'd been very grumpy, not himself that day...he'd been teething a fair bit lately and he figured it was probably something to do with that. I told him to bring him in anyway because if it had something to do with his ears or elsewhere, the NOT knowing is worse and they may not have a very pleasant night ahead of them.

My children's doctor once said to me years ago, that parents are their children's best paediatricians...we know our kids best, and if something's a'brewing in their wee bods, they show signs that we pick up faster than a speeding bullet. This was often the case for me when I would take the boys to see him...he'd find nothing wrong....two days later, full blown ear infection or the like. It's like the washing machine....it's playing up until the serviceman turns up....then it's in perfect working order and he can't figure out why he's there...you waste money on the call out fee...and the machine packs up as he's driving of down the road. Grrrrrr.

I was on the phone when Dad walked in the door carrying baby. Gorgeous baby boy. It was easy to see that the kid was burning up, his face was pretty red and flushed. The temperature today was around 21 degrees celcius...baby is wearing several layers of clothes. While I'm dealing with a man on the phone, who's telling me his heartbeat rate is now 38 (holy hell) and he's feeling nauseous and dizzy, I'm gesturing to Dad to start peeling off some of baby's clothes. This isn't easy to do whilst listening and talking at someone else. I'm making motions of striptease sign language to one person while talking calmly and trying to convince someone else they should be calling an ambulance. Dad takes off his own jacket (I fight to keep the expression on my face neutral). I shake my head....point at baby. Finally...dad starts taking off son's layers. Yay! I give him the thumbs up.

Ordinarily, I would put the telephone call on hold and talk to Dad, but when it comes to heart stuff, I never put anyone on hold. Eventually I thought I'd convinced this patient enough for him to ring an ambulance and felt comfortable enough to hang up.

Doc saw the baby...diagnosed with tonsilitis...Dad leaves with the needed prescription so that's good. I'm still thinking about the chap with the dodgy heart thing....I wanted to be sure he'd done as he said he would. I ring his phone number...and bugger me if the silly bastard doesn't answer the phone! "Now Mr Silly-Bastard, why are you still at home?" (course I didn't really call him that)..."I'd thought I'd drive myself to the hospital but decided that wasn't a good idea, so I'm just trying to find a friend who can run me in". Oh Lawd! The problem we can have with older patients, is that they don't want to 'put' anyone out...and calling an ambulance would seem like putting out a lot of people in their minds. In the end I told him "ok, I understand, but I think we've waited long enough now...hold the line for a moment please?" (ok, yes, I did put him on hold, but he obviously wasn't going anywhere for a couple of minutes) I hear a feeble "yes ok"...*press hold*....and I rang the ambulance and gave the details myself.

The doctor walked passed me at one stage and asked "Am I doing good? I'm doing good right?" (he's often so far behind time-wise with his patients). I say "You're doing great! You're a Legend, a Machine, you're a star!" He stops mid-stride and grins at me..."Hey, you can't stop now...keep going or I'll demote you to just being an ordinary hero".

Sometimes I feel I'm obviously just not pushy enough...and sometimes I wish I had an abundance of nurses and doctors I could forward these people to and not have to deal with it myself. And sometimes I wish there was a bourbon set up and waiting for me when I got in the door at the end of a day like this...not the stack of groceries I found at my front door because the courier had arrived, thumped on the door, and my two children who were in their respective bedrooms playing blaring music, didn't hear him.

But...all in all, not a bad afternoon.
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