one of my senior registrars once said that the night belongs to surgical registrars and prostitutes. we all had a good laugh. it didn't strike us as odd being compared to prostitutes at all. if anything in those days we often got the feeling we were being screwed over, however the remuneration wasn't as good. but there was another time the comparison was a bit odd.
on a certain sunny day i decided i should do my duty and donate blood. i felt it was not right that i complain when there is a shortage in the hospital if i am not at least trying to make a difference by donating myself. so off i went to the nearest blood bank with my phobia of needles and my sweaty palms, all trembling in fear to donate. the lady behind the desk took my details down and pricked my finger to make sure i was not anaemic. after that formality (which in itself did nothing but heighten my dread of sharp objects), she gave me a questionnaire that i was required to full out. i thanked her and moved off to a table to nurse my painful finger and full out the form.
the form was pretty much what one would expect. it asked if i was aware if i had had any blood born diseases that i knew about like hepatitis b or hiv etc. it touched on family histories and the usual medical things that may have an influence on whether one should donate blood or not. then it fired out a question that i though quite interesting.
"are you involved in any high risk professions like prostitution or surgery?" prostitution and surgery were sort of lumped in to the same question together. also they were both considered professions of, as far as i could tell, the same standing. there was a block to mark yes and a block to mark no. i marked yes.
i took my questionnaire to the lady behind the desk. she scanned all the answers until she came to the one i had marked yes. she froze. she then glanced up at me. actually i think she maybe looked me up and down. she then hurriedly disappeared into the back room. after a few hushed whispers she emerged with another lady and i was led away to a room with a sign above the door that proudly identified it as the counselling room. now where i come from, the word counselling is pretty much always what happens just before you get tested for hiv. i considered telling them that my last test was about a month ago and it was negative, but i was somewhat bewildered and still beset with fear for the large needle that i still expected would be sunk into my arm.
once we had settled down into comfortable seats in the counselling room the lady asked me what i had meant by answering yes to that particular question. i told her i was a surgical registrar and was therefore quite often engaged in high risk surgical activity. she then also looked me up and down and gave a sort of smirk. she clearly didn't believe me. i was obviously much too good looking to be a surgeon and better fitted the profile of one who sells his body for cash. then, without missing a beat she went on to talk about the dangers of hiv and all the ways you can get it (she meant by selling your body of course). i wasn't sure if i should point out that other than getting screwed by the system in the state hospital on a regular basis i was not a prostitute but rather a surgeon. but she hadn't believed me the first time and nothing had changed between then and now so i decided to just keep quiet. after all, maybe i was simply too good looking to be a surgeon after all.
suffice to say they did not want my tainted blood and i therefore never had to face the business end of their needle. i just wish they had only checked my blood for anaemia after the counselling session rather than before.