Paediatrics – It Made Me Sick

I remember having done paediatrics as a student and as an intern. Both times, I got sick. Probably for only about a week or so, but then I got better, so I could enjoy the rest of the rotation.

I’ve been doing paediatrics now for about 6 weeks. And I hate it. Well, that’s probably not entirely true. I like managing and diagnosing paediatric conditions, but I hate the germs and bugs that comes with the patient group.

Every second or third child is a febrile, coughing, runny nosed kid. With such a high exposure rate of flu viruses and bacterial infections, it was only a matter of time before I became sick. And sick I became. In fact, for a total of 3 weeks! Yes 3 miserable weeks of suffering!

Thinking back to it, the first time I got sick, I had to cancel dinner plans with a friend. I started feeling better over the next few days, but had to do a 4 day stretch of nights. And on the last night shift… I got a sore throat. So I get sick some more, with some laryngitis, hoarse voice and the like. Just as it’s improving …. I get unilateral throat soreness. I don’t think much of it, thinking it’s viral. But over the next 2 days, I become febrile, I get chills, I have extremely painful lymph nodes, and I think I can see some exudate in the back of my throat.

I only just started some antibiotics today, and it’s already helping a bit. My throat doesn’t feel so sore anymore. I just hope I don’t spike fevers again tonight.

I must be extremely unlucky with 3 successive episodes of throat infections. I think I’ll be extremely glad to leave paediatrics behind and to leave a miserable few weeks of illness behind as well.

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Second Sick Day Off, After Weekend Cover

I usually don’t take sick days off unless I really need them, but today seems to be one of those days that I have decided to call in sick. It is the second time I have called in sick in these last 1.5 years of work. I feel a little guilty however, since I’m not like actually dying, and could probably still go to work even though I would be extremely worn out and inefficient.

I suppose I was actually sick yesterday too, but decided to go into work anyway. Being a public holiday yesterday, and with two and a half pay, how could I not go into work? I wasn’t really that sick yesterday morning though, but late afternoon, I started sneezing and had terrible joint pains. Come the end of the day, and I was exhausted.

Being a public holiday, there were only 4 medical doctors on; the day consultant, an admitting registrar, the ward registrar, and the ward RMO (resident medical officer). My job was to see mostly well patients on the ward, while also getting called for ward jobs and reviews of patients that may need some attention on the ward by nurses. In total, I saw about 16 patients, did 4 cannulations, did two urgent discharge summaries, and attended to several other odd jobs like rewriting medication charts and the like.

I just churned through the list, and took my time to just have a chat with patients to identify any issues, and just a basic exam; all patients I saw got a chest, heart and abdominal examination. Mind you, many of these patients were actually well and didn’t have many issues, but needed some monitoring and review for things like bloods, hence that’s why even a lowly RMO could see these patients.

My shift started around 8 am, and ended at 8:30 pm, but I had pretty much seen all the patients by about 6pm, and then had to do other odd jobs that I had prioritized as last priority (which included rewrite of medical chart, and certifying a dead person). Certifying the dead person was actually quite spooky in a sense. The patient was in a body bag when I turned up, and had been dead for over 2 hours. On unzipping the body bag, and throwing the cover back, I came face to face with a ghastly pale and yellow face, with eyes closed. He felt cold to touch. On opening his eyes, I thought I could see the eye lens. HIs pupils were dilated, yet I could make out a slight shimmer, as if it was the lens of his eyes.

On finishing all jobs, I met the night RMO, and handed over just 3 easy jobs – essentially to chase bloods. I quickly headed off to one of my favourite restaurants (they close at 9pm), and got myself some Mexican food, and finished it at home. Switching the TV on, a movie was on; Freddy vs Jason. I watch for about half an hour, thinking to myself how ridiculous the movie was, with villains magically materializing from dreams. There’s nothing better to watch, so I just watch a bit more, and make my way to bed after a well deserved day (of working 12 hours).

Now I’m just looking forward to my upcoming pay check 🙂

My Experience as A Patient

So I’ve been unwell this past week, with mainly flu like symptoms (sore throat, coughs, joint aches). I knew it was probably just the standard run of the mill flu symptoms, but it was only in the past few days that something bothered me; pleuritic chest pain.

Waking up from sleep, I had a sharp well localized pain on the R side of my back. Deep inspiration seemed to exacerbate this pain. That got me a little worried, because it meant I had pleuritic chest pain! And with it, it meant inflammation of the pleural lining, something I was taught in medical school, was something quite serious.

Worry setting in, I decided whether to go to the ED department for treatment or not. I mean, it would be long waiting times maybe, and it would be weird in a way to be treated by previous colleagues. After pondering, and a great deal of reluctance, I decided to go. The possibility that I could deteriorate and be much worse off was enough to get me going.

The triage nurse recognized me “you work here don’t you?”. That was the first part of awkwardness; being recognized by other staff members.

The ED waiting room was empty. The TV blaired on in the background, with news reports. I took out my smartphone, and started to study some Chinese. And from this point, you could tell that I wasn’t really that sick. I guess I wanted more reassurance, and to just get seen just in case of something serious.

I got my observations and vitals done, and was then sent into the fast track room. There, I did some more waiting, waved at a colleague, and got attended to by one of my previous colleagues. So I explained my story, throwing in medical terms like pleuritic chest pain and such. The obligatory chest exam was done, with auscultation of lungs. Then I got sent for a CXR. And then, I got an ECG.

The senior doctor came in and saw me, asking me how I was. She had a new hairstyle from when I last saw her. Essentially, I had pleurisy, with no need for antibiotics, just some rest, and NSAIDs. It was a relief I guess.

All in, it took about 2 hours and 20 minutes. The funny thing is, that right after I left the department, my pleuritic pain disappeared! How convenient. If it happened earlier, there would be no need to go to the ED, and I could have avoided the awkwardness of being seen by colleagues. But it was interesting to know what it was like as a patient, sitting in the seats, and being in the other spot as a patient, as opposed to being the doctor.

What was even more amusing, was that as I rocked up for my afternoon work, the other doctors had known I was at ED earlier that morning, and were asking me if I was ok.

Sigh…. I vow to never be sick again as to need to be seen by ED again.