A Warm Blanket and a Fresh Pillow

I generally don’t enjoy weekend calls. Having a Saturday or Sunday call means you are literally working for 24 hours. You definitely don’t want that when your mates are busy planning a getaway to Amboseli or ruracios. A good number of my age mates are getting married by the way.  I was doing the Saturday call that week. The plan was to use time wisely because I wanted to do a little cooking with some crazy chef on youtube on top of the clinical duties I had. So I finished my ward reviews quite early and went back to do fried rump steak with the said chef. (I discovered cooking recently and I have been really crazy about it).  

I was called by the exchange at around 11am to go to Casualty. On a bad day, the emergency department can give you a proper introduction to the profession. One day I will tell you how I ended up doing eighty straight hours in pediatrics.  My good friend Dr. Maosa always gets the worst of calls though. Nothing scares the idiot anymore. Who jokes with a guy who did a splenectomy and a cesarean section in one sitting? Tell me.

 Casualty was chaotic. In one corner, you could see a teenager writhing in pain from a sports injury. On the far end, there were two children; one was fighting for his life with severe dehydration while the other was bubbling around smiling at everyone who showed interest in him. I walked through a sea of humanity to go see the patients that belonged to the surgical department. I was rotating in surgery at that time. We had two patients. One was a young woman who was barely breathing and the other was a gentleman, handcuffed and surrounded by the police. Instinctually, I joined the team that was trying to resuscitate the young lady. She was soaked in blood. Her extremities were cold and clammy. No pulse. No heartbeat. Her pupils were fixed and dilated. No corneal reflex was elicited. The ECG was straight like an arrow. No electrical activity in the heart. She was basically dead. She must have died a painful one.  Her intestines were dangling outside, eyes half-closed. I am sure if you asked her a few days prior to the incident; she didn’t imagine that she could meet her death in such harrowing circumstances.

Our attention immediately shifted to the other gentleman who was hand-cuffed. He was a well-built man with sculpted muscles from many years of lifting weights. You could see his deltoid muscle fibers tucking in beautifully behind the biceps in front and the triceps behind. His veins were admiringly visible. You could put a whole folleys catheter in those veins! We shall call him John because John is not his real name. When he saw our resigned faces, he broke down into tears. There is nothing so terrifying as breaking bad news. Sometimes one can just see your forlorn face and break down into tears. John was breaking down. He needed no doctor’s debriefing. He had seen it himself. This lady was his wife, we later found out.

Sasa mbona nilikuua jameni?”

“Mnisamehe sikujua.”

John kept saying repeatedly. He had multiple stab wounds all over his torso that were actively bleeding. He did not seem to be bothered by the bleeding. He wept and sobbed. I put some pressure pads on his wounds and stitched them one after the other. They were so many that by the time I was done, my back was aching.

As I was leaving to write my notes, he whispered to my ears,

Daktari, nipee ata siku mbili nipone, kama boys.”

His voice trembled with melancholy. At the mention of the word ‘boys’, I knew John was activating the ‘bro code’. The worst had already happened. At our discretion, we decided to admit him for a few days and booked him a psych consult. There was just so much in his mind. The wounds were not too deep to warrant an admission but his mind had just fallen apart. Reality had deserted him.  A fresh pillow and a warm blanket are all he longed for.

Author: Dr. Kiaye Oliver

I am a dreamer. I love medicine. She is generous. I am also in love with literature, she makes me see the world the way I want to and sometimes the way it is.

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