“And a good south wind sprung up behind;
The Albatross did follow,
And every day, for food or play,
Came to the mariners’ hollo!”
– Samuel Taylor Coleridge
There comes a time in an intern’s life when your registrar is called away during a ward round. The registrar, figuring you are not a complete imbecile, hands over the reins and dashes off.
One steps forward quickly, to show fear is to lose before even starting – handing the scribing tools to the deer-in-headlights med student cowering behind the curtain.
Not daring to fumble in one’s pocket for the most sacred text of all, the list of patients, you quickly realise you don’t know her from Adam.
“How’s it going today Beryl? (she has white hair, so it’ll be either Ethel, Beryl or Doris).
She replies with the rather non-committal “Not too bad dearie”.
This is a woman that grew up through World War II. Everything in comparison is pretty decent, so the reply only rules out cardiac arrest on the basis that she is speaking.
Stumped for anything else to say, you pull out the big guns.
“Eating and drinking well”?
“When did you last open your bowels”? “Passing urine in good quantities”?
The minimum allotted time to speaking completed, you gratefully proceed to the patient examination, a bizarre ritual, which in the hands of a master physician is beauty to behold and far more powerful than any CT scanner.
In your clumsy hands, the fact that the patient is speaking and has unremarkable observation readings, means you probably won’t find a single thing. However it makes the patient feel like she is getting her money’s worth, and provides that most important aspect of all, the doctor-patient touch.
The knowledgeable resident, can look back upon this encounter with the knowledge that the poor stumped intern was accidently much wiser than he gave himself credit for.
One of the best indicators of health is that the waste disposing systems are running and that the patient has an appetite. For all the whiz bang machines in intensive care, one of the best indicators of a patient’s hermodynamics (outside of renal failure) is how much urine is coming out.
Anyway, that was a rather long winded way of saying that everything is working well after a slow start to the first few days with rough weather and sea sickness.
Perpetual Succour has completely sailed herself for the last 18 hours without need for adjusting sails or tiller. She danced all night at six knots on a bearing of about 130 degrees relative to true north. Now she lazily ambles at four and a half knots in a gentle 5 knot nor’easterly. I could try and get her closer to the wind, but she is happy and that is enough for me.
The night time revelry did not lead itself to the deepest sleep. But that intern knew that you don’t have nursing staff wake a patient up every four hours to do obs, and then mock them with the question “how did you sleep”
It remains idyllic with blue skies and little cloud. I’m considering trying my hand at baking some damper in my thermal cooker. I brought along 7 kilos of flour, so hopefully it works!
I have The Eagles album “Long Road out of Eden” softly playing, and there is an albatross circling me with very little effort.
Latitude: -36.39062, Longitude: 156.28444, Time: 01:47:28 28-03-2018 UTC