Friday, January 27, 2006

Out of Control

I needed drugs to get going again this morning. I awoke to find I had developed a chemical meningitis of the Stella variety over night (known otherwise in the lay parlance as a Stella head). Thankfully, being a doctor, I have accumulated a handy stash of all the ingredients necessary for a concoction that can restore me to some minimal level of functionality: aspirin, paracetamol, metoclopramide and lansoprazole. Sometimes I add a multivitamin, but I know that this is mere garnish for the chemical goodness that forms the true meat of my panacea.
I droned through the patients histories at the consultant meeting as is required of me then lapsed into an absence while the Neurobeasts clashed horns over who knows best about what should be done. It was only then that I realised what an odd looking bunch they are. A few in particular are visually arresting: there's the sickly pale man with an autistic affect and a malevolent stare; a stern-looking bull dike with a face like a greedy beaver; and some damp squib who looks like a puppet with its strings cut. I tried not to stare too much, especially with my stomach as unsettled as it was.
All the patients were miserable today. I suppose they have good reason: none of them can move from the neck down anymore. Strangely enough this wasn't really the focus for their misery at all. The reason they were so sad is shit. No, I mean it literally was shit; or the lack of it to be more precise. The same process that had deprived their bodies of sensation and power had also deprived their bowels of any automaticity by damaging the autonomic nervous system. The shit wasn't going anywhere. My poor sweeties hadn't had a good poo for over a week, bless 'em. They'll need the works: laxatives galore, daily enemas and possibly a manual evacuation or two. The latter is very much a last resort, predominantly because if it comes to that it's my hand that has to do the evacuating! I'll certainly need some metoclopramide for that one, I tell you.
It's kinda sad how tragic and pittiful we are when our bodies break. Our greatest joy, our dreams and desires, all intimately linked to the production of a well-formed stool. Reduced to reliance on others for everything, we lose all dignity and control. We are left at the tender mercy of others; their whims and their caprices replace our own as the deciding factors in our destiny. Today one of the patients thanked me repeatedly for nothing more than having moved her leg for her. It had become torturously painful in its former position but she had no way of moving it herself. She had asked the nurse to rearrange her but the nurse needed somebody else to lift her safely and there was nobody free; she'd gone to find somebody but got distracted along the way and not yet returned. I found the patient quietly sobbing. After I'd moved her, I said it was no problem, smiled and inwardly thanked the fates that it wasn't me in her place. I knew it wouldn't be long before her new position becomes just as torturous and I sighed as I wondered how long this time would she lie helpless and in agony before somebody was free to move her again.


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