Truth be told, I’m not out of the slump yet, but I’m running out of things to do. Well, things that I want to do, that is. I figured I’d give blogging about my summer practicals another shot.
So far, I’m only two weeks into it, but it roughly follows the same formula everyday.
9.00 a.m. I sit in for the morning conference while looking at my watch. Six hours left. Look at all the doctors pretty much not paying attention or dozing off, signs that they’re normal humans I suppose. The doctors on-call report new admissions and whatever needs to be mentioned. The doctors chairing the conference may or may not screw the reporting doctors. My conclusion is, in Russia life is a never-ending series of colloquiums. I try to pay attention, but it’s easy to give up when you’re right at the back.
10.00 a.m. Go to the department I’ve been assigned to, which just has to be Traumatology. Can you say, “dull as fucking a marshmallow?” I change into my scrubs and sit in the doctors’ office with another student, a Russian girl who uses any reflecting surface to check her hair and makeup. We don’t speak much, due to our poor understanding of each other’s language. If I’m lucky, some patient is either getting metal plates and screws either put in or removed from some limb. I’ve decided that to be an orthopaedic surgeon, you just need vodka and an IKEA toolset. While in the OT, I alternate between staring at whatever extremity which is being man-handled and the clock.
11.00 a.m. The surgeons have expertly done their work in 90 minutes, even minor setbacks have been accounted for. Damn. Four hours left. My pseudo-friend and I return to the office and get back to our task of sitting on the sofa, staring blankly at the doctors working. Occassionally, they look at us and make feeble attempts at conversation. After about half an hour of staring, I take out my book to read. If I’m lucky, Anna SMSes me from the General Surgery department to tell me there’s an operation going on. When joyous moments like that come about, I ask permission from my “supervisor” (inverted commas here because I eyeball her more than she does me). Naturally, she’s eager to get rid of me and lets me go. I mean, who wants some kid staring at them do work, right? So I put on my lead face and crash whatever procedure taking place.
1.00 p.m. Back in the office, now staring at doctors eating. They usually offer tea, but I politely decline. As they have their lunch that consists mostly of ice-cream and junk food, us students eavesdrop on whatever they’re talking about. Clock check; two hours left.
Some of you may be wondering why we’re wasting time in the office. Might as well go home if there’s nothing else to do, right? If you recall, I’ve mentioned the head of practicals that gets to 5th base with prickly sea creatures. She insists that we only leave at 3 p.m.
1.30 p.m. Read my book, and hope I get a message from Anna, or that someone is injured enough to perk my interest. Okay, hope that someone is injured enough for the doctors to say, “Come along, it’s an interesting case.” Seeing that this hospital is almost at the border of Moscow city, not much really happens. Clock check; 90 minutes left.
2.45 p.m. Slowly move toward the cupboard where my bag is kept. My supervisor looks almost relieved that I’m ready to get out of her territory. I say goodbye and almost break into a run to change my clothes. Then I begin my 70 minute journey home.
I’ll be honest, it could be worse. I could be with other students who pretend I don’t exist, I could be with racist doctors who don’t think I deserve to be educated, I could be without reading materials. Either way, I’ve got another four weeks to go, and at the rate things are going, I’ll be in Kuala Lumpur before I know it.