Tuesday, 26 November 2013

The one sandwich to rule them all


I finished up my first rotation as a junior today and thought I should give a bit of an update. The last few weeks have been a bit hectic, as I have had to cover for the breast F1 (who almost forgot to take his annual leave, and took it all at the end) while my SHO was on nights and then recovery. Busy times! Either way, it has been quite an interesting few weeks, where I managed to bleep myself, I got confused over someone as they had changed out of fancy dress, I have some success at the 'sandwich war' and end up making one of my patients cry...

Before that, I would like to comment on the current 'Movember' crop which is going on in my hospital. A number of the juniors have gone for a certain look, which one of my (85) year old patients commented on, asking me why there were so many people "dressed as 70's porn stars" in the hospital... The same lady came in on 31/10 (Halloween) from a nursing home with her carer from the nursing home and her sister, both dressed as witches. I thought it was a bit strange at the time, trying to take blood from this poor old lady as two witches watched on and cackled, but forgot it until a few days ago when two people were trying to talk to me about this patient. I was pretty elusive (patient confidentiality and all) until they asked why I didn't want to talk to them now, as I was much more forthcoming when she was admitted. It was the same two people, but they just looked very different without all of their witch garb on! 

When you are in the hospital, you carry a little black box of evil, which bleeps at you telling you who wants to talk to you (a pager). When you get a bleep, you get a 5 number code to dial, which then lets you call someone at their extension and learn what 'lovely' job they want you to stay extra late to do. Since I started I have wondered how long it will be until I end up receiving a bleep, going to a phone to answer it, but then calling the phone I have just called off (if you follow me - they bleeped me from the phone I answered from). This seemed very unlikely, as you would be in the vicinity, but I am just such an interesting person I like to wonder about fascinating things such as this. Well, this week this happened, I was around the corner, was bleeped then the nurse was rushed off to do something else and I called myself (engaged of course). There is no real reason for me to write it here, so I won't say any more, but it was one of my 'hospital wonderings' at the start...

In pre-op assessment (The last one I did this rotation, and possibly the last one I will ever do, depending on rotations next year and my chosen speciality) I was assessing women coming in for breast surgery. This is almost entirely people with breast cancer who are having the tumour removed, or the entire breast removed, called a mastectomy. One of the women was 70 years old or so, in a wheelchair and from Moldova. She looked like a 'Babushka', and spoke only Moldovan. I tried to use the telephone translation service, but they told me that she was speaking gibberish to them, so I asked her grandson, who was about my age, if he could translate. He readily agreed, but then told me that she was mad and he wouldn't translate what I was saying to her as she wouldn't understand. What then followed was a very difficult pre-op assessment clinic where I tried to get history from the grandson, and examine this lady, while she shouted garbled Moldovan at me and kept flopping her breast out of her top to wave at me (I guess to show me where the cancer was). The only key information I could get from her grandson was that he told me that she "Had experienced clinical death when having eye surgery in the USSR". When I asked what he meant what he meant by clinical death he told me "it means she died, where did you do your training", and refused to say any more. Such a difficult conversation - I am glad I am rotation onto respiratory medicine now, so won't have to try and communicate with them on the ward!

 A little like this, but a little more smiley

Now for the headline piece. The sandwich wars. I big it up because it is a big deal to me, though probably of little to no interest to anyone outside of my hospital. There is a very fought over sandwich in the league of friends shop that everyone in the hospital wants. I normally pack my own lunch, but when I forget/am too sleepy/forget to buy bread, this is the sandwich that I want. There is only one a day, it gets put out at a random time before lunch, and it seems the whole hospital wants it for their own. It doesn't sound anything special, but it tastes like heaven. And I managed to get it! As you join the queue with it, people you have never met before plead to exchange it, it gives you such a sense of power. If I set up a shop selling these sandwiches in the hospital I wonder if I would be rich, but I think the scarcity is what attracts people the most. Like diamonds. If anyone was wondering, the delicious fellow is below:

Never has one sandwich had so much power over so many

Sadly it has been my last day on vascular surgery today. I am in the same hospital for the year (so I can continue fighting for the important things in life like the above) but I am moving onto respiratory medicine from tomorrow for 4 months. I am really going to miss all of my crazy patients. When I was going around to see them and say goodbye this evening one of them, a lady who used to belong to the TA and drive Bedford Mk. 4 Tonne Trucks was crying and had tears pouring down her face when I said goodbye. She is normally very stoic and even though we had to remove one of her legs due to a nasty bone infection, and operate on the foot of the other, I have never seen her upset before. It has been a very touching final day, with the nurses saying lovely things about me, and I hope that my new ward is as nice to me as this one has been!


  1. Hehe glad you had fun. Though I'll be more excited to the thought of treating a dead person. Haha.
    Good luck in your new rotation.

  2. I'm confused... change over date is the 4th December!

    1. Maybe annual leave?

    2. I think different hospitals have different change over dates, at ours the F1 and SHO change over is stepped so there is some degree of handover between the two. I think the SHOs is around 4th Dec.

  3. 70's porn stars haha!! I would have died with laughter is someone said that to me.