Friday, 8 February 2013
Accident Hospital Kiss and Tell
I've had a few brushes with famous people - famous at the time, or who went on to be famous. Don't get too excited, this isn't someone who is a household name, like Bob Geldof (yes, I have a tale about him). But it is someone who went on to become somewhat famous in his own field.
I first met Doctor G_ (for that is what I shall call him for the time being) one Saturday, not long after the whole Doctor House Officer debacle. I'd been asked to see an old lady on Ward C who had a chest infection. When I examined her, she had really thick, stringy sputum, really hard to cough up, and this meant she needed nebulised saline, and was also possibly dehydrated. So I checked her fluid balance chart, and it looked like she'd hardly drunk anything for the last couple of days, which was a bit terrible.
Off I trotted to the ward office to report back to the doctor - Doctor G_. '.......And she's probably really dehydrated looking at her fluid intake, she definitely needs fluids pushed...'
'No she isn't.'
'You what?' I couldn't believe he'd snapped at me like that. It made it worse that he wasn't even looking at me as I was telling him stuff, he was half writing notes and half just looking out the door behind me, like he was waiting for someone.
'She's not dehydrated.'
No she's not.'
Well we could have stood there like that for an eternity, but since I was the more proactive of the two of us, I dodged into his eyeline, stared hard at him and said, 'come with me.'
At the lady's bedside I triumphantly waved the fluid balance chart under his nose. 'See?'
'Nobody fills those in, ' he said, walking off.
'What do you mean, 'nobody fills those in'? Of course they fill them in - there's bits filled in here,' I'm now chasing him down the ward as he walks away.
Without even a backwards glance he said, 'no, nobody bothers, they aren't necessary on this ward, sometimes they fill in the urine output or the odd glass of something unusual, but nobody fills them in, she's fine.'
This was RIDICULOUS! Here was a newish junior doctor (he was the February intake, so maybe not as dangerous as the August bunch, but still first year post qualifying) telling me how the Acci works! ME! A SENIOR I!!! Yes, I was proper up myself in those days.
I wasn't about to let THIS lie, so I followed him into the office again.
'We ALWAYS fill them in on the Burns Unit.'
'Yeah, well, we don't fill them in here. HEY!' he shouted to a staff nurse who was walking past, 'do we fill in the fluid balance charts?'
'No, not really,' the UTTER TRAITOR said.
'Well that's really stupid, ' I said, in a proper paddy now. 'What's the point of having them if you aren't going to use them? They just confuse people who work on wards where things are done properly. I think this *not filling things in* is really unprofessional....'
He was LAUGHING at me!
'STOP LAUGHING!!' But I was finding it really hard to not laugh as well, because I realised what a tit I must look.
After that I didn't really see that much of him, mostly only on-calls or lunchtimes just to say the odd word to, as you do. Forgot all about it really.
Until a doctors' mess party that I think he must have been organising, because he wanted to borrow a couple of mix tapes I had. I got there and handed them over to him, and then later in the evening he came over to talk about the music, and we chatted for a bit. Then for some reason we went to his room, not for sexual purposes, that was for sure, we were just sitting on his bed drinking and talking.
Doctor G_ didn't intend to stay a doctor if he could help it. He was writing a series for the BBC, he said. If that worked out, he would pack in the day job and become a full-time writer. Yeah. Me too. He had real hang-ups about his job and all the other people he worked with. He felt like he'd never fitted in as a doctor, because he was from a very working class background and everyone else was so middle class. Now this was something I could really sympathise with, because I often felt the same thing. No one would ever refer to it, but you could see people judge you the minute you opened your mouth. So we were bitching like that and then he started going on about how people were really unhelpful to him, and that I really DIDN'T agree with.
'I've always been nice to you!' And it was true, there were a few times I'd helped him out, we always tried to be helpful to the junior doctors because we knew they had it really tough, and I for one remembered how it had felt when I started.
'Oh, I know YOU have, but the others haven't. Most of the physios and nurses, they're all so up themselves, that's why I've always liked you....'
I didn't really pay attention to the last bit because I was defending my colleagues. 'That's not fair! It's probably because you are sometimes so arrogant and dismissive - I mean, remember the whole fluid chart thingy?'
'Oh yes, that. That's when I first thought how nice you are - how funny you were when you were angry, and when you laughed...'
And he kissed me. I was SHOCKED! I should have seen it coming, but we'd been talking for a long while, and drinking all that while, and the fact that I felt no spark at all had me convinced this was 'friendly chat' territory. So I jumped backwards, sort of stumbled off the bed and said, 'oh, sorry, I erm..., I have to go back downstairs.'
Off I ran like a very fast running thing, the main thought on my mind being did a half-snog that I had not really partaken in count towards the points competition? (see previous link)
Luckily, it did. Unluckily, I always felt a bit awkward around him after that, which I covered up by being super-polite to his face whilst ridiculing him behind his back to the other staff. I really was such a bitch. Yet another thing to be ashamed of.
Long after he'd left the Accident Hospital, a couple of years or so, there was a TV series on BBC called cardiac arrest, written by someone called John MacUre. In the first episode there was an incident where, during a ward round, a junior doctor turned away and threw up out of a window. That actually happened, it was one of those incidents that entered Acci legend; and the whole way the series was written, the sorts of things that happened, it was so Accident Hospital - I just KNEW that Doctor G_ had written it.
Of course, I was right, Doctor G_ is Jed Mercurio (John MacUre was a pseudonym whilst he was still a doctor, I think), although when I knew him he was Ged.
He went on to write 'Bodies', probably the book that best captures how hospitals really are. It became a brilliant TV series. He's done other stuff too, but I haven't watched or read those.
So there we are, a teensy claim to fame - I snogged Ged Mercurio before he had his nose job. DAMN! I'm STILL a bitch!