Friday, April 22, 2011
in the old days at kalafong (hell) we sometimes had to deal with obnoxious people. alcohol tends to make the worst of a personality come to the fore. most of us tended to ignore these irritations and get on with the job, but there were exceptions.
he was a senior registrar at the time. before going into the whole surgery thing he had been in the army and had served in the angolan war in the special forces. i occasionally asked him about those days, but he never spoke about it. i think it messed him up a bit and he probably didn't want to dwell on that stage of his life too much. only once did he ever actually say anything to me that alluded to what he had gone through.
"bongi, when you are in battle and people are shooting at you with the intention of killing you, it somehow changes your perspective on life." i suppose part of his changed perspective was that he tended not to take crap from mere mortals (hy vat nie kak van kabouters nie), especially those with more than a liberal dose of dutch courage.
the patient was drunk beyond description. he lay there in casualties with a nice neat bullet hole through his chest. however the injury had done nothing to his foul mouth. he maintained a constant stream of verbal abuse directed against anyone and everyone who had anything to do with him. when the poor house doctor inserted the intercostal drain she had to contend with both his sharp tongue as well as the occasional flying fist. he even managed to land a blow which had reduced the house doctor to tears. to her credit, she had continued the procedure but was unwilling to go near him after that. she called her senior, the registrar, to make sure the patient had no other injuries.
my friend walked into casualties, quickly found out what the trouble was about and approached the patient. he stood just outside the reach of the patient and casually observed his fists flying around, keeping everyone away. he listened as the patient flung a stream of obscenities at him. he seemed unmoved, but the wry smile that until then had been on his face slowly slipped away to be replaced by a stern grimace. he tried to speak to the patient to explain that he needed to check him out but this was met with such aggression that he ended up walking away. the house doctor tried once more to approach the patient, but caught a heavy body blow and slumped to the floor in pain. that, it seemed, was too much for the registrar.
"sister, put the patient in the procedure room. i'll be back in five minutes."
five minutes later the registrar returned. he went straight to the procedure room. just before he entered he turned to the sister.
"sister, call the maxillofacial surgeon and tell him we have a patient for him with a broken jaw."
"does the patient have a broken jaw?" she asked, surprised.
"well not yet." and with that he entered the room and closed the door.
after that, so the story goes, the patient was as tame as a lamb, albeit a lamb with a very swollen face.