Wednesday, October 29, 2008


the community of registrars in a university like pretoria is small. a small community is nice, but it is always important to remember whatever you say will probably find it's way back to the person you are gossiping about.

i was rotating through orthopaedics. rotation generally is not too much fun and ortho was no exception. finally they allowed me to operate. they put together a list of wound inspections and secondary closures and the like, claiming they would handle the ward and clinic (later i found out they used the opportunity to take an early day and go and play golf). anyway, there i found myself all on my lonesome, closing some wound on a forearm in the company of a green anaesthetist that i'd never met before. i tried to be friendly and i thought it was working. i was making small talk and stupid jokes. the gas monkey was even laughing.

then i approached the end of the operation. i placed the last stitch and asked for a plaster. the anaesthetist looked up with an expression of surprise on her face.
"are you finished?" she asked.
"you didn't tell me you were almost finished!" she complained.
"sorry." it seemed like the right thing to say, but it didn't work. she really let me have it between frantic exaggerated turning down of the vapours and drawing up of reversal. i listened to her tirade for a while but it quickly bored me. i walked out to the scrub room to wash my hands.

there i removed my mask, adjusted the cap on my head slightly up and washed my hands. afterwards i slowly walked back into theater. the anaesthetist looked straight at me.
"can you believe it?" she said
"believe what?" i replied.
"the bloody surgeon!" i wondered what surgeon she was complaining about now. by this time i had figured our that she was not overly fond of surgeons. i decided to listen patiently to her tirade.
"who and what did he do?"
"the surgeon who was just here! he didn't tell me he was finished and then he just left me with this sleeping patient!"

it took me a moment, but i realised she didn't recognise me with my mask off and my cap donned slightly differently. i considered drawing the situation out but truth be told, at that stage i just couldn't be bothered any more.
"i said i'm sorry. what more can i say?" i said in a pseudo-annoyed voice. she looked at me with a blank expression. then suddenly she went bright red. i smiled broadly.
"pleased to meet you. i'm dr bongi."

yes there will always be people bad mouthing you, but, if i could be so bold as to suggest, do not gossip directly to the subject of your gossip. it just makes you look foolish.


Cathy said...

That's pretty funny. I bet she never made that mistake again.

Jeffrey said...

imagine her embarrassment. good one. i might have just pretended it wasnt me.

Greg P said...

No, she probably did make this mistake again.

This is typically one of those situations where you frequently think of things to say later. One thing might have been, "I'm sorry. I'm used to the anesthetist periodically checking to see what's going on in the procedure. I didn't realize you were busy with other things."

ditzydoctor said...

OH DEAR. hahahah the look on her face!!

Megan said...

HA! She must have died, good one! Did you ever work with her again?

Melissa Gay Art said...

Heh! Gracefully offering her a way out of her embarrassment with a smile and an introduction may have made you her hero!