I think therefore I am? – Starts with P and ends with O

Photo by Ray Harrington on Unsplash

It’s important to celebrate the small victories we achieve in palliative care, as they are often hard-won. When the natural history of illness is one of disappointment and loss, it is important to mark the times of success. Our patient had not passed bowel motions for 11 days. With each passing day, she had felt less and less normal. She wondered if she would ever Poo again. When constipation has taken its toll for such a long time the treatments will be accompanied by pain. Not having the treatment will lead to more pain. We had tried the standard treatments of pills, soluble powders, and various products to be squirted in private, all with no success. We readied the special injection. If it worked it work quickly. The injection was provided and we all held our bated breath in concert. Within 20 minutes we had achieved a result. The cheering was heard from the doctors’ office, at the nursing station. Yahoos echoed down our corridor. I felt the urge to perform a cartwheel. Smiles all around at the arrival of the VIP – Vast Incredible Poo – time to celebrate. Fireworks were lit and the Poo party began.

“Ahhhhh. You’d better call the water department, because their pipes may be blocked as I just passed a two-metre-long Grogan!”
This story soon spread throughout our hospice.
The next day I met the patient for the first time, “Ah, you must be Mr Grogan?”

The heavy artillery was deployed and the expert markswoman took aim and fired. It was like a scene from The Dambusters, the bombs bounced along and hit their target. The walls of the dam broke. Tiny brown hair-line cracks spread from the impact crater and spread out at pace. Chunks of wall splashed into the waters below. Splish, splosh, splash. A small waterfall to begin with, which increased in volume. At its crescendo, it was akin to a tidal wave – A Poonami washed across the floor of the bathroom, sweeping away everything in its path. It could not be denied, it would stop only when its force was fully spent, its tank empty.

I liked my new shoes, the black leather uppers made them look like dress shoes, but the sole’s technology was a proprietary design from Nike. The characteristic air sole made the shoes feel like they had been made to play sports. I kept them clean and tidy as my Mum and Aunty had taught me the importance of always appearing at your best. I was working as the house officer of the team, and I had under my wing a final-year medical student. A keen young man who was hungry to learn, to experience all that medicine had to offer. I tried to warn him, but his enthusiasm was too strong. I tried to stop him, but he was too headstrong, his appetite for fresh knowledge too grand for mere words to hold back. I pleaded with him not to go because I liked him, and I didn’t want him to be hurt. But no, he would not listen to my voice of experience. I had to let my little duckling go to meet his destiny. To collect his quotient of lived experience. I would miss him and hugged him farewell as he entered the breach, guns ablaze. The shockwave of the explosion was felt across the whole ward, I had to grab onto the desk otherwise I would’ve been knocked off my feet. I blinked back tears as I spotted my young friend who wore a new hairstyle. His outfit and in particular his new pair of shoes were ruined. My student’s shoes were covered with material up to his shins. He had been caught in the crossfire. My shoes were still spotless and I was happy to be wearing my Nike Airs. His shoes were covered in the remnants of a week’s worth of undigested food, he was wearing Reebok Dumps.

I am one of the only doctors in Aotearoa New Zealand who still wear ties. Usually cartoon ones including Disney characters like Christopher Robin’s Hunny loving friend. I’ve learnt to embrace my points of difference. I’m likely the only doctor who doesn’t mind a bit of Pooh on his tie.

I was just about to stand up when the fire alarm went off. “Evacuate now, evacuate now. Go to the nearest exit. Evacuate now. Evacuate now.” As I flushed the toilet I felt safe in my knowledge that there was nothing left for me to evacuate.

Florence Nightingale has been turning in her grave for some years now, she never thought her nursing descendants would be tending to the wounded of yet another Crimean War. She would despair over what has happened to Ukraine since this year’s invasion. World peace is at risk due to the actions of a megalomaniac dictator, to be pronounced with a stronger emphasis on the first syllable. A Romanov-wannabe by the name of Vlad(the impaler)imir Poo-tin, likens himself to Peter the Great. Don’t be fooled, he’s grumpy because he hasn’t had a crap for two weeks. Nothing a cruise missile-sized enema won’t sort out. That’s right he is so full of sh#!

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