22 March 2005

Cardiologists and orthopedists.

I don’t care what they say; there is a difference between doctors and doctors. Here in the children's cardiac unit, people are (apart from obviously being scientifically skilled) equipped with a huge dose of warmth and sensibility. That, unfortunately, cannot be said about orthopedists. I’m aware of the fact that I’m sticking my chin out, and that I may well get a mob of angry orthopedists on my tail, but it has to be said. They seem more like car mechanics to me. Technicians. There to fix an object. Hammers and nails, saws and screwdrivers, bang on. The fact that there is a person stuck to the other end of that broken arm does not seem to bother them.

Today, three people from the orthopedist unit came charging into room three. ”Where’s Abbe? We’re equipping him with a Von Rosen splint”. Abbe has, on top of his heart condition a congenital hip dislocation. That means that one or both of his hips were dislocated at birth or will dislocate easily. The paediatrician in Borås mentioned it at the first routine check but with the chaos that then emerged we had simply put it on hold, left it to be dealt with later. Anyway, the condition as such will require Abbe to wear one of those splints for a couple of months.

Abbe’s heart nurses tried their best to convince the orthopaedist troop that he’s going into surgery tomorrow, he’ll have to be washed thrice with disinfectant beforehand and under no circumstances can the splint be left on during surgery. ”Can it not be left until after surgery?” pleaded the staff from ward 323. ”No. Every day won at the start will save weeks at the end of treatment” was the robotlike answer given by the orthopedists.

My wife ran out of the room crying. ”Now, now, it’s not such a bad thing, this splint,” said one of the mechanics. But with just an ounce of empathy she could have figured out that it was not the bloody splint that was causing the outburst. That a congenital hip dislocation is a piss in the ocean compared to what Abbe has in store for him. That she was in a ward, with new parents who mightn’t be in the most stabile or happy of conditions. That their charging in might actually have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. But that ounce of empathy was sorely lacking.
The splint was coming on.

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