An unexpected journey for emergency trainees
Posted on 13 February 2013 by Charles Lamb
It’s February already so for emergency medicine that means ‘all change’. Just as the last lot of trainees were getting fed up with working every weekend, and had lost contact with life as they had known it, the music stops in the training version of musical chairs and a new batch is released.
Coming into emergency medicine fresh is a little like Bilbo Baggins the hobbit at the beginning of his journey to the Lonely Mountain, with his company of dwarves. Best of all, it’s in 3D, smell-i-vision and surround-sound. No doubt, you too have worn the odd-shaped glasses and eaten the extra large bucket of popcorn.
But to refresh your memory, Bilbo’s journey takes him from the safe rural surroundings of middle medicine into emergency department weekend nights, an altogether more sinister territory.
With no previous knowledge of armed conflict, and in the company of a handful of new and hastily convened friends (many with improbable looking hairstyles and mismatched costumes) Bilbo begins to settle into his role.
As the story unfolds, his encounters with wild and incredible patients, lead to Bilbo gaining a new level of maturity, competence and wisdom.
Armed only with ‘Sting’ — a magical weapon found in a troll’s cave and resembling a portable ultrasound machine but with the ability to detect orcs — the team rapidly dispatch enemy fighters. And when things start to look bleak, there is the old wizard Gandalf, who appears from some vaguely guessed at duty elsewhere at exactly the right moment to reassure and calm the fellowship and save the day, by reviewing the previous day’s X-rays, and saving fallen creatures before their pasty complexions and badly stitched faces see the light of day.
Along the way, are moments of release, such as the unexpected stumbling upon Rivendell, which bears all the hallmarks of a medical assessment unit with five empty beds at the beginning of a shift. Its distant beauty appears too good to be true, and sure enough, closer inspection reveals no obvious way in for those who venture close.
So it seems that personal growth and forms of heroism will be the central themes of the story for the next six months, until the hobbits are released into the medical shires to resume gardening duties.
But the story comes with a warning: remember Gollum, who inhabited the underworld permanently? If only the new hobbits had left him alone to live out his life as a permanent employee without going and stealing his only possession, his ring of confidence. Had they done so, the power of the Dark Lord Sauron, the solicitor specialising in medical negligence cases, would not have grown to such proportions, and subsequent epic quests to Mordor and the Cracks of Doom in order to destroy him might not have been necessary. Good fortune and all speed in your chosen quest.
Charles Lamb is a consultant in emergency medicine
medical education and training