Thursday, July 20, 2006

A Doc's Life - More Memorable Moments (P.S. 1)

After completing my mini-series on “A Doc’s Life – Memorable Moments” last year, I have recently recalled further anecdotal tales of more similarly memorable moments. And since people, for some reason, seem to enjoy such stories, I’ve decided to add a post script to this series, named, quite unimaginatively: “A Doc’s Life – More Memorable Moments”.

Here is my first P.S.

Scenario: My first day of work in a GP clinic in the heart of town. Patient is a tall good-looking gentleman (his appearance is totally irrevelant to the topic at hand, I know, but what the heck, I am of the female persuasion, such things do leave a lasting impression - GRIN -), a backpacking tourist from somewhere in Europe.

The patient entered my room, carrying a backpack with him.

Me: “What can I do for you today, Mr. ____”

Patient: ”I think I have worms.”

Me: “Er, how do you know?”

Patient: ”I found it in the toilet after I did No. 2.”
(OK, OK, he may not have quite put it in exactly that way, but I figured it would be easier on the sensibilities of some of my readers if I paraphrased it).

Me (apprehensively): “Sure…”

He then proceeded to take out from his backpack a small plastic jar covered by a piece of (clean) toilet tissue secured by a rubber band, & placed it on my desk.

(Sidenote: I have a phobia of all things that creep & crawl; spiders, cockroaches, worms, lizards etc etc. I have debrided necrotic ulcers, helped remove ischemic bowels, amputated limbs, seen & handled partially amputated /crushed limbs, but I still CANNOT touch creepy-crawlies....such is the nature of phobias)

I stared at the bottle, half expecting the worm to spring out of the jar, through the tissue paper, and on to my person (hey, phobias are illogical fears. Note: ILLOGICAL).

The patient must have seen the look in my eyes & very kindly said: “It’s dead. Would you like me to remove the cover?”

I nodded & apologized & explained my phobia.

He then removed the cover, & true enough, there was a very dead worm of the Ascaris spp. (better known as the roundworm to laymen) about 6 inches long. The patient must have picked up the infestation during his backpacking journey through Thailand or Vietnam.

The last time I had seen the Ascaris was during our Parasitology module in Medical School (I think it was in 3rd year) & the ones we were shown had been preserved in formaldehyde for God knows how long. Doctors here (at least GP’s in town practices) hardly ever see such infestations, since Singapore, being the developed country that she is, has high standards of hygiene & sanitation. So this was the first time that I had actually seen a “fresh” specimen, & I called my colleagues into my room to view it as well. I think the patient must have thought we were a bunch of “swaku”* doctors for being so fascinated by a worm.

Anyway, I gave him a prescription to get anti-helminthics.

And, oh yeah, he very kindly threw away the jar & worm for me.

*Swaku = local slang to describe someone who is unaware of, or oblivious to, what would be considered common knowledge - quite hard to define, actually, if you are not Singaporean.

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