ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, January 14, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 33

An intern’s diary

By Anedu

Come to think of it, I really can't pinpoint the reason why I put myself through the process of becoming a doctor. It happened, and like a soldier on his first campaign I had my doubts.

Just two months ago, I was still experiencing the joy of having passed the final examination and being able to add the prefix 'Dr.' in front of my name. Two months ago, days still had 24 hours and there were weekends at the end of the week. All that has begun to blur, now.

Well, to make a long story short, I left home two months ago to begin my work as an intern medical officer, and this is my story.
In a sense, the likeness to a soldier is even more appropriate when you think that it's the soldier who has to carry the 35 kilo backpack and sleep on the go. We found ourselves doing just that, carrying the baggage and always on the go. And like the soldier here, we were the least experienced people in the world having to deal with the worst situations first; the first line of defence.

The place where I work has around 60 beds but twice that number of patients. It's a paediatric ward and there is always a concerned parent around.

I always thought children would be fun to work with. My mistake. I was not thinking of sick kids. Sick kids are irritable, wary of strangers and don't want to be touched. Plus they can't talk. They can't save you by saying, "Doctor, my tummy aches right here."

Many horrors

So what you are left with is the mother's story and what little you can gather by examining the child. Then you gave to glue it all together using the knowledge you've managed to cram up during the five years of med school. But sometimes the glue just doesn't stick.

There are many horrors in being an intern. Your absolute lack of seniority means that you are cannon fodder. You have no control over any situation involving someone senior to you, and that means you hardly have any control over your time. You become the mop-up man. And the day ends when the floor is spotless!

The worst horror is finding on the morning round something you should have done yesterday, with the consultant just about to come in!

Another great horror is drawing blood; something a house officer is called on to do once in a while. As if a struggling child crying murder is not enough, children have tiny veins. And most of them are invisible. Nurses are usually experts and can be life-savers in this sort of situations. Most of the time they help you out.

In fact, they can be your best friends in battle. They are like air support; they can show you where not to step on when you are passing through a minefield. They can make your life much easier. But you also have to be a bit wary, some can shoot you down unless you are careful.

All this may make you think life is hell as an intern. It is, but there are huge high points as well. A high point is when a patient with whom you have struggled with for weeks becomes well and remembers you before they go home. Just saying goodbye is such an inspiration but few patients seem to know that.

More of that later: but for now there are diagnosis cards to be written and patients to be checked. So until next time good health!

P.S: There are always plenty of senior people to consult if need be, so patients need not worry!

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.