in the line of the previous post, there was another story that i thought quite funny at the time, illustrating us macho surgeons.
sigmoid volvulus. a wonderful condition which is very common in africa. not the type the textbooks talk about found in institutionalised old folk, but the type found in young black adult males. prevalence highest in uganda, decreasing as one moves south, but still pretty common in south africa. so in my registrarship, i became quite good at detorting the volvulus which is the emergency treatment in casualties. if this doesn't work or on sigmoidoscopy (siggy as we called it) if you see any questionable bowel, immediate laparotomy is performed.
anyway the patient came in and had a clear sigmoid volvulus on examination and x-rays. i got the siggy ready to detort and place a flatus tube. now, for the lay person, in this area of blocked colon, the feces has been rotting. yes rotten feces, the only thing to top regular or garden variety feces. the feces is also under extreme pressure, so as you insert the siggy, it deflates with vigor (explosively). many of my friends got showered with this rotten projectile fecal matter and often in their face when they detorted sigmoid volvulus on more than one occasion. i had evolved a way of doing it that decreased my chances of being the proverbial fan that was just about to get hit. yes, i think i was pretty good at it. in fact the picture above is me with my trusty siggy ready to detort a volvulus.
so, getting back to the story; i called the students to see the procedure, because this could be their only chance to see it. i set everything up and started the siggy, with an enterage of students, a house doctor and a rotating medical officer standing to observe. i got to the twist, observed to make sure there was no necrosis and started gently inserting the flatus tube. it slipped easily in. and as usual there was a sudden and massive release through the tube of rotten feces and particularly rancid flatus. i stood there trying to control my gag reflex. it would be considered an acute loss of cool if the tough surgeon was seen to be gaging at anything by his awe struck juniors (tongue in cheek for those who wonder). i just couldn't. i gagged over and over again. now i was struggeling to prevent myself from vomiting. despite this, my prominent thought was that the students would think i was a wimp.
then i looked up. every last one of them had bolted. not one had mannaged to overcome the stench to stay and watch. i laughed. all my ego driven worries about what they would think of me were in vain. obviously if a surgeon nearly gagged then mere mortals (tongue in cheek, flamers) like medical students and doctors would obviously not be able to be in the near vicinity of such a thing.
the patient did well, got his elective colectomy the next week and went on his merry way.