“Hah, it’s always the big ones that go first.” The words eke through the fog in my brain. Someone is dragging me by the armpits, backwards, half lifted, half on the floor.
“Happened before, has it, or your first time?” She let’s go, and I stagger to a nearby chair. She stands over me, hands on hips, her smile half sympathy, half smirk.
“What do you think? You fainted. Would have taken out the instrument trolley if I hadn’t seen it coming. Got you just in time.”
“Thank you, I guess.” I look again. Staff nurse Gorman, her badge says. She is huge, looks more like a prizefighter than an angel of mercy. No wonder she handled my 83 kg with such impunity.
The NHS three-step motto: see one, do one, teach one. Dr Subramanian was doing his first, and also skipping straight to step three. Liver biopsy. Eight students clustered around. Had no others seen the look of terrified anticipation on the patient’s face, his grimaces as the inadequate anaesthetic went in? Soon proven inadequate as that slender silver sheath slid between his ribs into his vital organ. His fear, his pain, his terror hit me in the guts – then lights out.
And now I’m going to read a short piece which we wrote which was about a disease, a diagnosis, but we couldn’t include the diagnosis, it had to be implicit in the piece:
‘Disease’ poem in five minutes.
Bruce is back in town, my town,
like a manic kitten chasing a ball of wool.
Bruce is back in my bedroom, wrenching peace from my sleep.
I toss and turn, trying to thrash him away, but he still there.
I toss some more,
and for one moment, at that glorious release, he’s banished.
Then he’s back, laughing, talking.
Bruce is back in black and lacks the tact to get the fact that I’m too slack to send him back.
Brackish bile fills my mouth.
Bruce is back and it’s bedlam in my brain.
My fault, I know, the letters are the same.
Only I can be blamed for bedlam.”
Varuna, 10-11 March 2012
Nick is a GP in St Kilda, also at times a writer and broadcaster. He presented health stories for three years on ABC TV with Jill Singer and George Negus, and more recently on radio with Steve Vizard. Nick has published on many subjects, from sore throats to computing, baby sleep programs, enemas, fatigue, personality disorders, parenting, sport and chicken bones. His first book – “What happens now? The essential book for first time fathers.” – is due to be published mid-2012 by ACER. Lurking in his bottom drawer is ‘Two’s Company’ , which his children mockingly refer to as the GAN*, which he would love to have published. Any takers?
*Great Australian Novel
“At our writers’ workshop, we were asked to write a quick Haiku about Varuna. Having never written a Haiku before, I apologise in advance to those more familiar with the form, but it sums up my Varuna experience.
Busy city. Train.
Pause; talk, laugh. Write. Space to breathe.
Take that breath back home.” Nick Carr
ACUTE ANAL PAIN AND A CHICKEN BONE
(N Carr) Journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners 1987; 37:314.
RECTAL NECROSIS AFTER A PHOSPHATE ENEMA
(I Smith, N Carr, O Corrado, A Young)
Age and Ageing 1987; 16: 328-330.
SIX SECOND THERAPY
(N Carr) Australian Family Physician 1998; 27: 233.
REINFORCEMENT SCHEDULES AND THE MANAGEMENT OF CHILDHOOD BEHAVIOURS
(N. Carr, J. Carr) Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy 1999; 27: 89-96.
FATHERS AND SONS
(N Carr) ANZ Journal of Family Therapy 2000; 21: 47-48.
2003 – 2004 Monthly column – a humorous look at sport. – for Australian Doctor magazine.
CHRONIC TIREDNESS (Review article)
(N Carr) Australian Doctor 26 August 2005, 25-32.
MANAGING DIFFICULT BEHAVIOURS
(C Hulbert, N Carr) Chapter in textbook General Practice Psychiatry ed Blashki, Judd & Piterman McGraw-Hill 2007.
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