Saturday, 23 May 2009

Doctor Poem

Junior Doctor

Each demand 'top priority' but usually mundane
I'm trying to get through each one in vain
Doing nothing well, making mistakes
Not even taking any breaks
I look worse than ill
Can't I have a pill?

I can't think - Just tell me what to do!
"You're the Doctor - we're supposed to say that to you!
But while you're here; sign here, and here...
We've done it already, have no fear!"
But this D-dimer is a thousand, why did you ask for that?
Now he needs a V/Q and clexane stat.

I need the toilet, but my bleeper sounds
I don't care, I need the sanctuary a cubical allows
Until it shouts from under my pants:
It turns out to be someone who's slipped in the rain
So I trudge back to the other side of the hospital again

"Doc - where have you been?
There's five patients waiting - none of them seen!"
Who do I start with: the one with gangrene?
Or unconscious? Or whose relatives scream:
"You're a Doctor? You're too young...
Where's the Consultant? He's the important one!"

Someone just died in Sideroom One
Perhaps I could nip in and certify them?
Four minutes of listening for life
Absolute quiet - forgetting the strife.
Pupils fixed and dilated, no furrowed brow
No more demands that life would allow.

I'm wakened from my trance by an alarm
A drip is obstructed - in an oedematous arm
How will I ever get another one in?
Can't we just stop it? Give in?
I'm at my wits end but there's more to come
I'll probably end up examining someone's bum.

My watch says three hours longer, from bad to worse
Till its confiscated by an Infection Control Nurse
"Bare below elbow" they say as they go
A suspendable offence? I do hope so...
"Excuse me, Dr Doyle?" A nurse says all too soon
Yes, I reply, with a sense of impending doom

"Did you prescribe this?" Yes, Co-amoxiclav.
"But the patient's allergic and now has a rash."
Oh, bugger. Incident Report Form. Then Adrenaline IM.
(And if I have time, I should say sorry to them.)
Doing nothing well. Making blunders
Survival overtaking hopes of achieving wonders.

But then from a patient I get a smile and a tear
And suddenly it all seems so clear
"Thank you so much Doctor" they remark
"It's just my job" I retort, but inside there's a spark
I am grinning from ear to ear, its the best
Conscience so clean it could pass the UV test


Tiber Jumper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tiber Jumper said...

very nice poem, brought me back to my internship days 25 years ago now!
Only then, I was an evangelical protestant and didn't really know how to process all the suffering that I encountered, including my own at the time. Had I been Catholic at the time, I suspect I would have had an entirely different experience in the the way I prayed for patients and my own issues.
Learn to offer up(uniting your suffering to His) the emotional and physical pain that you experience during the internship and I suspect you will grow much quicker to being a saint than I!
God bless you
Russ Rentler, M.D.
AKA Tiber Jumper

Anonymous said...

Loved your poem. Brought me back to my hospital chaplaincy days when I sometimes just wiped the perspiration from a houseman sweating trying to save a life in Intensaive care...and not a consultant to be found!

leahbahn said...

Dr. Doyle,
As a medical student looking forward to (which is to say, slightly dreading) residency next year, I got a great laugh out of your poem. It hits home; sort of strangely a comfort to have companionship in lost wristwatches and bags under the eyes so deep that they could carry groceries in them and being looked in the eye and told you're simply too young. Thank you. And thank you for standing up for the Church. Will be following your blog! :)