A little light relief…just what the doctor ordered

Dr Featherstone is a highly experienced medic and award-winning doctor who works in a busy GP practice in West Cork, as well as at Mercy University Hospital and Cork University Hospital, as an A&E doctor.

Covid fatigue is hitting hard. We are doing ok and will come out of this. We may in fact appreciate what we had and learn lessons.

I want to lighten the mood a little and hopefully raise a smile or two. We all could do with a laugh!

I have recently had to renew a training certificate. The one to prove I am a good guy to have around if you have just collapsed clutching your chest. It is the BLS basic life support and ACLS advanced cardiac life support. All hospital doctors have to do this every two years.

Basically a plastic man or woman, the mannikin is the patient and is wired up to an ECG machine and the examiner comes up with increasingly complex scenarios, while the poor student has to remain calm and inspire confidence, and bring the mannikin back to life. It starts up nice and friendly; an inhaled foreign body a Heimlich manoeuvre, mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and cardiac compressions to Barry Gibb singing ‘staying alive’ in a high falsetto to a collapse and a shock is needed from the AED. You have seen all this on Casualty. All really important and life saving.

Things then turn awkward…the plastic man is on Inchydoney Strand, he is in the water, he has had a probable heart attack, and been hit by a passing speed boat, and may have a neck injury. He is hypothermic, has a pacemaker and you and the paramedics arrive just as sheet lightning lights up the scene. He wears a bracelet saying he is allergic to the common cardiac drugs that you happen to have. Calling the Undertaker is not an option.

After two full days training, I passed; all good fun, and it put me in mind of the books I had read as a pimply teenager considering medicine. ‘Doctor at Large etc’ by Richard Gordon. It sounded great fun and actually after nigh on 40 years is. No regrets at all.

We use mannikins in the hospital for all sorts of training. Better to make a mistake with a plastic dummy than the real thing. When I was learning how to pass a colonoscope, the mannikin came with all sorts of grunts and groans if I happened to be a bit too rough. Training to use a laparoscope involves using the equipment to build a tower of bricks to improve hand eye co-ordination. The level of sophistication and simulation is amazing. Yes, rather like a flight simulator, which I would love to try one day.  

Anyway, in Dr Gordon’s day you had to do an Obstetric exam and deliver a baby by forceps. The Mark 1 plastic woman was there on a delivery table and the baby was slow to appear. Time for forceps and, under the eagle eye of a bored examiner, the poor student assesses, administers an anaesthetic, catheterises Mrs Tupperware and applies the blades of the forceps to the baby’s head and gently applies traction. All good so far. The baby does not budge! More pressure and the poor student sweats and puts his feet against the legs of the couch and leans back. The plastic baby is suddenly released flies over his head and Mrs Tupperware falls off the couch and the poor student ends up on the floor. 

The examiner now sighs, hands the forceps blades to the student and says, “Now hit the father with these and you have killed the whole bloody family!” FAIL! The student eventually became an expert Obstetrician.

Not a single mention of Covid!  

WCP Staff

WCP Staff Writer

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