Tuesday, 14 July 2015

God's balls

Hi,

Wow, it has been a long time since I last posted. This job is quite busy, but isn't busy enough to give me an excuse. I suppose I have just been distracted by other things going on in life.

I am on paediatric surgery at the moment, which is a big change to anything I have done before. I was pretty scared when I came into this rotation as I didn't have any paediatric experience previously, and it has taken me a little time to get my head around things. On surgery I am the only F2/SHO and there is usually a registrar and consultant on at the same time. As with most surgical specialities, they spend much of their time in theatre so I am left on the ward trying to work out what to do with my patients. Fortunately at the start of the rotation the general paeds team, who share the paediatric hospital with us, were very helpful. Sadly in the last month or so, due to politics which is well above my paygrade, they have been distancing themselves from my team so I have had to make do much of the time, but fortunately are still around in case one of my patients is genuinely ill. I am getting to spend some time in theatre as well, though, which is quite interesting, but I don't think surgery is the profession for me. The initial cutting is exciting but then all the searching around and stitching up layers is not!

The reason for coming to post today was an absurd situation I found myself in, and I felt I should share it. A 9 year old patient had come in yesterday with an acutely painful testicle. We were worried that this was testicular torsion - a surgical emergency which results from, surprisingly, your testicles getting in a twist. His mother was not keen on him having the surgery and it took about an hour and a half to persuade her that this was necessary. The surgery was performed overnight and found a torted hydatid - a little extra bit on the testicle which is the remains of the female reproductive organs (from when the boy was a foetus). This has no known function and is not important, and doesn't need surgery if it is diagnosed before the operation. The problem is, having a twisted testicle is an emergency and you don't want to faff about trying to work out which one it is with ultrasounds and the like if you are unsure - leaving the testicle twisted for too long will result in it dying permanently. In fact there is a surgical 'saying' - ""Testicular pain - don't engage brain"

The next day, the child was well and happy to go home, but the mum was not happy. I had been left to review this child, as the consultant and registrar had gone to theatre for a different case. The mum was upset that we had operated on the child and found nothing wrong, and upset that we had removed the dead hydatid of Morgagni which had been causing the pain. The reasons for this were that she knew that there was no problem with her child's testicle (hence why she was initially refusing the operation) because she was very religious, and she knew that God wouldn't want to harm her baby; she was upset that we had carried out the operation as she felt that God had been testing her faith and she had failed, showing she didn't trust in him to provide for her; and she was upset that we had removed the dead twisted tissue (why did God put it there if it has no use).


A picture found from the internet of an ultrasound of someone's testicle with the face of the Egyptian god of male virility in it

First, I was glad that the consultant was not around, as I would probably not hear the last of  him being compared to God in 'providing' for this woman. I wasn't too sure how to address her concerns though. I tried to explain that bad things did happen to kids (a point helped by being in the middle of a ward full of sick and disabled children); I tried to point out that perhaps the presence of the hospital was a way for God to provide for this woman in her time of need; and tried to convince her that we had no known function for this tissue, and its removal shouldn't affect her son in any way. She was not amused by my attempts at explaining things and kept trying to drag me into a theological argument. All of this was watched by the husband who was clearly on 'my' or the medical establishments side with regards to the need for the operation, but not keen on speaking up. I feel a lot of the passionate arguments the mum was giving were more for his benefit than mine. I am not a religious person by any means and was trying to keep things civil, but it took me an hour and a half to escape.

An hour and a half!

I was called back twice for questions about wound management by the nurses, which just turned out to be more theological arguments over why God wouldn't want to hurt this boy, and how he must have a special plan for the hydatid of Morgagni, if only we would wait and see. I felt that these recalls were likely due to the husband arguing things with the wife, so she would bring me back and argue them with me. Not ideal given we have about 20 other patients in the hospital at the moment to look after. The third time the nurses called me telling me she just had a couple more questions before she left, I asked them to tell her that I would happily come down if she promised not to talk about God anymore, and if she had any more questions of this nature then perhaps she should take them up with the hospital chaplaincy service. Unsurprisingly, she changed her mind and decided that she didn't need to speak to me any more. I will have to go back tomorrow and ask the nurse if they had to call the chaplain as an emergency to explain the reasoning behind an omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, benevolent God.

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for posting - seems like you did well to get out of there! Any tips for a soon-to-be FY2?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh dear, having theological discussions is not great when it's a patient! Especially if they appear to have quite strong views about athiests, and you happen to be one yourself (*cough* me *cough*)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hey, your blog looks great!

    I have just launched a national blog focusing on widening access to medicine through our social enterprise Medic Mentor, with students and doctors all over the UK contributing posts.

    www.medicmentor.org/blog

    Article contributors will received a certificate signed by the medical directors, which you can use on your CV.

    Let me know if you are interested, Cheers! :)

    Ciaran

    ReplyDelete

 
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