Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Highlights in her hair and other scary stories

A few days back I mustered my courage and subjected myself to a hairdresser’s unpredictable colouring paraphernalia… I was finally making good on my long-standing threat to colleagues of highlighting my hair. So there I am getting strands of hair painted with a coffee brown vile looking mixture which doesn’t closely resemble the eventual colour I want for my tresses. Now the proceedings were being observed by a trainee hairdresser as the ‘expert’ worked away on my hair. I wouldn’t really mind that if it wasn’t for their frequent remarks and comments regarding the procedure. “Oh, so that’s how thick each highlight should be”. “I think you’ve missed this section of hair.” “Arre…will this colour develop properly since her strands are a little coarse, na?” Not exactly the most comfortable banter buzzing over you as you hang your head down and submit yourself meekly to your fate. As I sat there with the coloured strands wrapped in aluminium foil, looking like I’d walked from the sets of some alien movie, and worried that I’d look like I’d come from a horror movie once the foil came off, an interesting analogy struck me.

The other day, I had assisted…how should I put it…a brilliant but slightly whacko surgeon during an appendicectomy operation. The patient, a frightened lady, had come with severe tummy ache the previous day and had been packed off home after an injected pain-killer and some ‘reassurance’. Now here she was this morning, a little worse than yesterday… reassurance obviously can’t take care of an angry, red, bursting appendix that needs must be heard! So an emergency operation is planned and the abovementioned Dr. Sameer, rubs his hands in glee in anticipation of the ‘cutting’ he’s going to get to do. I can see him almost salivating!

Removing an inflamed appendix is bread and butter, routine stuff for most general surgeons, so it was expected to be cake walk. Zero stress for the surgeon. The patient’s story is a little different. And it dosen’t help that, as she enters the Operation Theatre (OT), the doctor asks for the radio to be turned on. Out pour the strains of the latest rapchik itam number - “Chhore ki baatein meethi churi hai...” (OST: Fight Club). Dr. Sameer is just getting warmed up with a little jig beside the OT table. Now to give you a clear picture… the patient is on that table and the anaesthetist is just starting to ‘induce’ her and, as it often happens, the operating surgeon, Dr. Sameer, has not yet washed up for the surgery. So the patient lying there quietly watches the man in whose hands her fate (or at least her appendix) lies giving himself up to the rhythm. The music picks up pace and the anaesthetist makes the patient sit up. This operation will be under ‘spinal anaesthesia’ which basically means that only a certain level of the trunk will be numb…and God help her for the poor lady will stay conscious through the ordeal. The needle enters her spinal canal and, by now, Dr. Sameer is in full and graceful flow; he actually skips in a little circle around the table. The hapless woman must have felt like the holy offering of a tribe in some ancient African sacrificial ritual with the tribe chief jumping around her with spears in both hands. (Come to think of it, we can compare the lumbar needle used for anaesthetizing with a spear).

Well, the operation gets underway. As he opens the layers of her abdomen and reaches deep down to find the offending appendix he exclaims about the friable and inflammed state of the organ and also curses the doctors who sent her home on the previous day. Then he figures that it is partly the patient’s fault. Why did she say she felt better after the injection yesterday? All this in Hindi, in a voice loud enough to be heard by the patient, whose eyes were covered but whose ears must’ve been a hundred percent perked up. As we go about the job, flakes of pus swim up from the abdominal cavity and we hear him curse some more about how this is a gandha appendix. A little later, as I’m assisting him remove clamps on many of the bleeding veesels, one clamp slips from my hand before the bleeder has been tied with a thread. To this he loudly says, “Arre…sambhal… waise hi yeh operation normal nahin hai.” Imagine lying there, with sleeping feet and an awake brain, knowing that your insides were being scrutinized, appraised and tampered by a grumbling dude who, until twenty minutes back, thought he was a member of some ganesh visarjan group. A little scary I’d say. Oh! And the radio was still playing.

As this incident played itself out in my head, the ‘colour developer’ had completed its job on my hair as was announced by the shrill timer. As the hairdresser washed the excess colour off and the dried my hair, I was thrilled to see the most beautiful and shiny shade of copper emerge… Wow! This hair thing had worked just fine. My thoughts went back to the patient who, thankfully, also went home just fine. Having traded one slightly messy vestigial organ for the lyrics of the latest catchy tune, my guess is she came off better…

9 comments:

Sumedh said...

Oh my God!! He was dancing to the SAME song when I was assisting him during an amputation op. I felt, at that time, that this guy is dancing in front of a patient who's going to lose his leg and will probably never walk properly, let alone dance!

Yes, Dr. Rege is one heck of a dude and he adds scores of colours (other than red, green and pus) to the OT.

Sumedh said...

Everytime I read this one I can't stop myself from cracking up at various points! Absolutely hilarious!

You must show this post to Dr. Sameer sometime! (I'm serious, he will enjoy it too.)

Sarthak said...

hey its good that uve gotten ureself acquainted with this very creative waste of time a.k.a. blogging.

Sanesh said...

Hey m really lookin fwd to assisting Dr Rege.. nxt yr hopefully...
very well written veena..

Tejas said...

hey
really interesting blog..
i remember once when Dr. S was threatening to cough into the open abdo during a laparotomy being done by some other unit people!
Lucky patient, he was under GA!

Swati said...

Can we chaapo this one in the mag?WITH Sameer Rege's name in it or do you love your head to much? Especially since you've recently spent a small fortune getting a paint job for it!
This blog is so absolutely hilarious...

Swati said...

Hey just realised..too much* not to much,
BTW, as part of the guidelines we need to come up this year to reject articles submitted for Gosumag,a web publication is one of the criterion, would it be possible to pull out the article that the English Eds must have told you about? (Atleast until the time that the review board goes through it?)

Firebringer said...

just read this. I've heard of Maverick surgeons.....but wow! Is this guy brilliant, or just a maverick? Doesn't the patient have an option to opt for GA?

Sumedh said...

patient... option????

are we on the same earth? :D