I am holding down a screaming baby – boy – while the goodly intern (who can’t stand children) tries gently to insert a catheter. I say baby but the child is in fact older than two (hence the catheter) and he puts up a good fight. We try to get it in before he relieves himself all over the makeshift sterile field.
Alternately, I am holding down a screaming baby – girl – while the capable intern (who isn’t terribly good at these procedures) tries unsuccessfully to do a lumbar puncture. The sterilizing Betadine (traitorously) seeps into the fabric of my white jacket as I attempt to pin her wriggling hips with my shoulder. For my efforts and hers, I am rewarded with a brown stain the size of a cheeseburger while she is rewarded with a firmer grip and a few more needle sticks.
Again, I am holding the hand of a boy who screams bloody murder before the needle goes in, but quiets down once we’re taking the sample. “He’s a good boy,” his father tells us. “He’ll carry on, but he’ll settle down in the end.” Thanks, kid.
Or, I’m stroking the arm of a girl whose veins the intern can’t seem to find, but who covers her mouth so politely when she coughs unlike every other patient who’s traipsed through this treatment room spreading aerosol droplets of infection from pharyngeal aspirations. I’m sorry, darling, but we’ll have to stick you again.
There I am collecting blood from a calmly quiescent eleven year old while an intern guides my shaking hand.
There I am listening to the scariest murmur I’ve ever heard from the heart of my favourite nine year old ward resident with chronic kidney disease. (I only have one wish for him – to live longer, and happier, than me).
There, poring over dockets thick as Bibles. There, running behind the Consultant peepeecluckcluck. There, stumped trying to answer a question. There, bumbling through an X-ray.
Also, learning. All over the place learning. Learning more in four weeks than (dare I say it) I have in the last two and a half years.
It’s official: I love clinic.