I thought that transitioning from the corporate world to healthcare would let me sleep soundly at night – you know, helping sick kids and the elderly and all that. Turns out that couldn’t be further from the truth. The things you overhear when you’re a hospital receptionist don’t make it particularly easy to fall asleep at night.
Last night, for example, I was preoccupied with images of diabetic foot ulcers after hearing out a guy about the difficulties his wife was having with that unfortunate problem. He was at his wits’ end, and they were both starting to think that drastic surgery was the only answer. But before contemplating that route, he wanted to talk to the doctor about something he’d heard about on a podcast, a treatment called hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Melbourne has a few providers of it, apparently, although I can’t say I’m familiar.
I hope there’s something in it and that the patient in question can access it. If just hearing about non-healing wounds keeps me up at night, I can’t imagine what it must feel like to actually have one, much less be unclear on what can be done about it. That’s the thing with medicine – it has this sort of veneer of being informed and in control, which of course it is up to a point. But in practise it’s less precise than that. Not to say that what it’s done and will continue to do for us isn’t extremely impressive; it’s just that there isn’t a go-to fix for every illness or malady.
This has become increasingly apparent to me over the short time I’ve been working at the hospital. I mean, you see little kids coming in with severe injuries or illnesses, and very often I’ll notice a trace of a look on the doctors’ faces that gives away the pretence that medical knowledge is all encompassing. There simply isn’t a treatment for everything, and it’s only through these subtle expressions from the doctors that I’ve really come to understand this.