The kindness of strangers

The μGnome is home. A little chastened, to be sure. But home in time for Christmas, and more than a little relieved to have been snatched from the jaws of enteric fever. Now is not the time for finger-pointing or recrimination. That can wait a little, at least until a definitive aetiology has been determined, the micrognosis known and a primary source of infection implicated. When the account has been properly settled the μGnome is resigned to becoming the feature of his own problem-solving clinical case; the logical conclusion of making the most of every learning opportunity.

But now is a time for celebration and thanks. His, in particular, go to the physicians and nursing staff at the best hospital in Western Australia, who eased his progress through the emergency department and medical wards to a speedy discharge. It is difficult for any doctor to step out of their professional role to place themselves entirely in the hands of others.  How much more difficult was the μGnome’s task of admitting said gnome to his own hospital while responsible for the out-of-hours clinical advice on infection – a very personal version of the command, Physician health thyself! Of course, it is easy for a pathologist to excuse himself on the grounds that this instruction only applies to physicians, and clearly exempts pathologists. Nevertheless, the μGnome was mightily relieved to hand over to thinking physicians when his own mind was clouded by the effects of infection. The possible range of infective agents responsible for fever in a returned international traveller just back from East Timor was too much for his ailing brain.

 It can do little harm to see hospital medicine from the inside once in a while. As the μGnome came to his senses he was struck by the many small kindnesses staff of all grades showed him. Senior physicians explained their decisions with the patience of Job. An emergency physician conspired to obtain the best inoculated blood cultures yet seen in the ED. An ID physican pondered the options and weighed the best course of action.  And the nursing staff – what a team! Stripped of the responsibilities of the health bureacracy, the intellectual gymnastics of differential diagnosis and the struggle for incremental improvements in clinical management protocols, the μGnome lay back and let his colleagues get on with the job of  making him better. It didn’t take them long.

Monday should see a return to business as usual.

And all in time for Christmas.


  1. RT @micrognome157: The kindness of strangers

  2. What it's like to stay overnight at your place of work

  3. RT @micrognome157: The kindness of strangers Glad things are back to business.

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