Thursday, August 18, 2011

Scenes from an Irish Surgical Ward

I went upstairs today to see if I could find my intern, Simon. There he was, filling out yet another cardex of medication orders. The poor guy does such a ridiculous amount of scut it boggles the mind, yet he always has a smile on his broad Burmese face. I am so happy that he's on my team.

We were discussing Mr. Smith's night time sedation as as his current meds aren't doing the trick. The Ward Sister warned that the night nurse would have a fit if he didn't settle again tonight. So as we hammered out some different strategies I leaned back from the nurses station to have a peak in Mr. Smith's room.

And there he is, sitting upright in a big blue padded chair, his tray table in front of him. An open bottle of Guinness is on the table and he's grasping a plastic cup almost empty of it's brown fizzy contents. He gives me a giant dentured grin and I remember how he looked last week, flat out in bed and sucking hard on the 10L non-rebreather mask. I thought he wasn't going to survive the weekend.

" he getting...Guinness??"

"Yes, I think they prescribed it for him yesterday." 

So I'd heard that it used to be common practice to prescribe the stout because it was so high in iron and vitamins, but part of me just dismissed that along with so many other back in the olden days stories. Like how my cardiologist grandfather used to round on his patients with a cigarette in hand and the nurses used to smoke at the desk.

But I saw it with my own eyes, today, and hell if Mr. Smith didn't look a lot perkier.

Then while I was taking bloods from another patient a cell phone went off and the ring tone was an Irish jig being played on a fiddle. At that point I wouldn't have been surprised to pull down the bed sheet to see the patient wearing wellingtons and a tweet jacket. Seriously.

I hope when I am practicing in Canada that one day I'll see a patient pouring maple syrup over poutine while a Celine Dion ring tone goes off. Wait, scratch that...a Neil Young ring tone. Otherwise I'll have to give more points to the Irish for being so...(quaintly)...Irish.


Anonymous said...

I remember being faintly horrified when I was fifteen and my (previously teetotal) grandmother's GP suggested that she have a pint of Guinness per day, for her anaemia. Not in Ireland, either. :)

PA Honeybee said...

I love it! Sometimes, you gotta go with what works. I bet he seemed a lot better after that Guinness! We can't do that in pharmacy. Hmm, I may need a Southern Breeze or a Lemon Drop to ease my stress level as I work!

Kate Theriault said...

Wow, that's really an awesome anecdote. Do you think that part of the treatment with Guinness could be placebo-related? Do you think prescribing that in the States would fly?

OldSquid said...

I am going to Ireland if I ever need to be hosptialized.

OMDG said...

They recently took beer off the formulary at the VA affiliated with my institution. Here they used it to treat EtOH withdrawal, among other things.... anxiety and agitation? Unfortunately, it was shitty light beer, and nothing nearly so delicious as Guinness.

Anonymous said...

The fact that you dared put Celine in the same stratosphere as Neil Young is rather offensive.

And at our hospitals, they have beer on formulary for alcoholics (the idea being that they get a few beers which will settle them, rather than going through the whole CIWA protocol). The problem is a lot of these alcoholics are these tough-as-nails old Scottish guys who (as one told me) "wouldn't drink that Labatt Blue shite if the Good Lord hisownself came down and commanded him to do it"

Cartoon Characters said...

oooh. I remember those "olden days". I even blogged a bit on it.

Thanks. Now I feel like a dinosaur.

I also remember when it was ok to put Baileys in our morning coffee at work...thanks to the orthopods.
It wasn't only the patients enjoying a spot of alcohol.

;) Of course I cringe now thinking of it.....