Monday, May 28, 2012

Gargan Death Carrot

Yesterday I was alerted to the existence of the Gargan Death Carrot.

I know you think I made that up but I didn't.  Admittedly, even Google only seems to be aware of it tangentially, and Wikipedia not at all, but I can assure you it is real.

If you want to verify the truth of what I am saying, travel to the misty shores of far off Adelaide.  Go to the Botanic Gardens, just to the east of the Royal Adelaide Hospital, where the bamboo sways to unfelt breezes.  And find therein the eternal Museum of Economic Botany.  Enter by the door on the south side, amidst the deepest shadows.  Turn away from the temporary exhibit of Banks' Florilegium and the grim posturings of Robert Hughes displayeth on video beside.  Turn ye to your left and inspect the display of the members of the carrot family in the glass cabinet before you.

And quake as you behold the Gargan Death Carrot.  Marvel at the shrivelled pieces of unrecognisable vegetable matter in front of you.  Wonder at the simple description that from it can be extracted a resin that is mixed into plaster.  And leave, because that's it.  Yes, having included an exhibit called the Gargan Death Carrot, the curators then failed to provide any information on it beyond some simple home decorators tips.

What is the Gargan Death Carrot?

Is the carrot deadly?  Is it poisonous?  Is it very sharp and pointy and can be hurled like a spear?  Is it hard and useful as a bludgeon?  Or perhaps it incites in its devourers a murderous rage?  Perhaps, like the mandrake, it shrieks as it is uprooted, slaying all those in earshot.

Or is it a symbol of death?  Did the Society Of Assassins in distant Garg have as its symbol the native carrot, for reasons unknown?  Or were condemned criminals permitted one final meal of Gargan carrot, which is so delicious that consumption is otherwise only permitted to the Prince Regent in his Black Tower?  Or were slices of carrot used to weight down the eyelids of the dead, granting them eternal rest?  Are the shades of the dead welcomed to the gardens of paradise by the carrot?  Or perhaps the dead are terrified of the carrot, so bunches hang in every peasant hovel to guard against witches and hobgoblins.

I looked long and hard through the rest of the exhibits, searching for similar items of eldritch lore.  I sought out, but did not find, the Guinean Haemorrhagic Yam.  I heard rumours of the Batavian Agony Pea, but could not confirm its whereabouts.  And the Apoplectic Prussian Leek was conspicuous only by its absence.

The wheels of knowledge turn slowly.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

What we do in between patients

What does this abbreviation FFMN stand for?

"Fasting from midnight".

I wouldn't abbreviate midnight as MN.  I'd just write FFM.

But that would be "Fat free mass".

What's that?

It's the old-fashioned way of saying "Lean body mass", your weight if you weren't obese.

Oh, by "mass" I thought you meant a church service, one just for skinny people.

So a fat free mass would be where you give the anorexic the wafer and she just vomits it back up again.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Bored on a wire

Internship is all about balance.  People will give you all sorts of garbage advice about work/life balance.  It's garbage because it's impossible.  Work wins.  Life loses.  The end.

No, the balance I am talking about is the balance of how you spend your time at work.  At various times you are working for the patients, and at other times you are working for the consultant (the big boss).  Very occasionally you are working for yourself, such as when you go and get a cup of coffee or sneak off to open your bowels.  Refer to my previous comments about work vs life.  Pooping is life and is to be savoured as it arises.

So anyway, I was talking about patients vs consultants.  This is something I struggle with.  I tend to get caught up in spending lots of time talking to patients and their families.  Nobody else but the intern bothers to take the time to explain what the test results are, what they mean, what the prognosis is, what else might happen, whether or not this is all someone's fault or not, and in as much plain English as can be mustered.

I tend to spend a fair bit of time on this because:
  1. Ostensibly it's what the hospital is there for.
  2. I feel sorry for these people that Life has dealt a bad hand too and I want to help them out.
  3. When I do it, they always say really nice things to me later on when they leave hospital about what a great doctor I am.
So it's a mix of idealism and rampaging ego that motivates me.

Unfortunately, spending my time working for patients means that every now and then my consultant misses out.  Such as the other day when I was busy explaining to my patient's family what was going to happen now that we'd discovered that a lot of bad shit was going down with him.  It meant that I was 5 minutes late to a drug rep talk about some new drug that does the same thing as some existing drug except it costs more.  It had been arranged by my consultant and clearly his dignity was bruised that I hadn't prioritised it above all else.  I could tell this because he said to me, "If you can't be bothered turning up to education sessions you can get the fuck off my ward."

You know, the more I think about it, the more I think I've got the balance just about right.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Awaken the giant within

Every now and then someone remarks to me that they wonder how I can cope with doing my internship at the same time as my Smaller Half whilst also trying to look after the Hatchling. The answer is of course that I don't. Cope, that is. I spend most of my waking hours desperately trying to catch up to where I'm supposed to be and never quite making it. And my sleeping hours I spend having bizarre dreams about imaginary medical conditions suffered by fictional patients that I have to try actively to forget upon waking lest I blurt out something insane sounding on the ward round the next morning.

"Mr Upendis hasn't had his brain biopsy yet so we still don't know where the chocolate is coming from!"

Be that as it may, it is made easier than it might be one you realise that caring for patients is almost exactly like looking after a one year old.

Patients: did they sleep well?
Hatchling: did she sleep well?

Patients: do they have a temperature?
Hatchling: does she have a temperature?

Patients: have they had their bowels open?
Hatchling: has she just made a special delivery?

Patients: how's their fluid balance?
Hatchling: has she had enough to eat and drink?

Patients: have you checked the gentamicin levels?
Hatchling: would you like me to read you Hairy Maclairy From Donaldson's Dairy?

Patients: can you get the neurosurgery registrar to review them ASAP?
Hatchling: you look so cute in those little purple trakkie-daks!

The similarities go on and on and it makes everything so much easier. So for those of you embarking on medical careers, my advice is to have children right now. Especially if you might be competing with me for jobs in the future. Yeah, that's it.

And if you already have small children, why then, enrolling in a medical degree and working 7 day weeks for some sociopathic overseer will be just the ticket to sharpen up your parenting and really bring you closer to your family.

And while you're at it, write some damn blog posts on your phone using the stupid touchscreen. Ow! My arm!

Monday, May 14, 2012


This is a milestone. History in the making! One small step and all that. This is the first (and at this rate possibly the last) post I have written and posted using my mobile phone. So much technology! I am also typing it using my bionic arm. And it is packed full of subtle military nanomemes that will compell you to melt down your jewellery and send it to me. Electrickery!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Breaking bad

Doctor 1
[Bursts into room, sweeps aside the curtain around patient's bed]
So mate, turns out you've got cancer.  Any questions?  No?  Sure you'll think of some later.  We'll see you tomorrow, okay?
[Sweeps out again] 
Doctor 2
And that's a really good example of how not to break bad news to someone.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


The truth is, it's been a dark time.  My last post before my prolonged exile from blogging was back in January.  On that day I got news that my cousin, just a few weeks younger than me, had died.  It was unthinkable to resume writing here as a professional smart-arse, so I thought I'd take a break before posting a moving tribute to her.

And the break grew.  Because I didn't know what to say.

How is it, I wondered, that I can write an eloquent and moving tribute to my crusty and decrepit old cat, and even write a eulogy for a pair of underpants, but can't come up with something for a person - a person who had had their whole life, and the lives of her family and friends, stolen away?

So I waited.

I kept waiting for inspiration to strike.  I'm a doctor, I thought.  I'm close to sickness and death every day.  I must have some keen insight to offer.  Some deep philosophy to soothe the pain for those still living.  I even tried writing something a few times and came up with nothing but cliches.

Eventually I realized that I had nothing new to say.  How could I possibly even begin to enlighten, let alone comprehend?  How could I be so vain?

My cousin's brother, who, in a coincidence worthy of the Celestine Prophecy, is also my cousin, sent me a message after she died saying that she had really enjoyed reading this blog and that it had made her happy to laugh at it.  I was thinking about that message when finally I decided that if all I could come up with to honour her life was cliches, then I'd do so with the worst cliche of all - "This is what she would have wanted".

So, K, the resumption of this blog is dedicated to you and to everyone who shed a tear for you, myself included.  I like to think you would smile to read it.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

They seek him here, they seek him there

So it seems I have some explaining to do.  My legion of fan has been baying for blood due to my extended absence from the blobosphere.  Here's the deal:

When the Australian dollar nosedived against the peso after a hijacked bus exploded at a tin mine in downtown Brussels, my finances took a battering.  I was sold so short that the debt collectors came knocking on my door before the rear-vision mirrors flew past The Hague.

So I cooked up an elaborate scheme whereby I sold my organs on eBay one by one - always to the same buyer mind you - an elderly squillionaire in Bombay who was naively seeking immortality.  Eventually the total mass of transplanted organs from me passed a critical point and my Theory Of Cumulative Metabolic Consciousness was proved correct when I suddenly found myself an elderly squillionaire in Bombay.

Getting a visa back to Australia was no obstacle.  I simply transferred all assets back to my old self who was still sitting on ice back in Adelaide before re-selling my own organs back to myself, resulting in me waking up cold, scarred, but my old self once more, and filthy rich.

Naturally this kept me quite busy so I didn't have time for blobbing, especially not whilst trying to work as an lazy intern in a busy hospital and being a marginally effective parent to the child progeny Hatchling.  So I apologise to those of you whose lives have been made more bare and stark.  I can only promise that herein I will imitate the sun, who doth permit the base contagious clouds to cover up his blah blah blah etc so it's all like "Here comes the sun, doo doo doo doo" you know?

I'm back.