Wednesday, 14 January 2009
P.C.Plod and the mysterious case of the disappearing PDA
I love my PDA.
I take it to bed with me and fondle it,with crazed , sweaty half-remembered dreams of flicking through Diagnosaurus desperately deciding a differential diagnosis
I have had PDA's ,starting with the Psion...ah...what a nerd I am,-of increasing complexity and power,loaded with ever more and more aide memoire medical software-since 1993.
I cannot function without it in my pocket.It is my muse,my security blanket,my last-protection-against-the-dyslexia,the lifeline of my patients when its 2230 and I am tired after a 14 hour shift.
And it was stolen from my desk by a patient on Saturday night.
It was there at the start of the consultation...I left the room to get the patient some analgesia because I needed to send them to St Vulva's for a MaxFax consultation...walked the patient out to the waiting room...and when I returned to my room,saw that the PDA was gone...rushed back out to the waiting room , but the patient had already left the Unit.
At least the patient didn't benefit from a having surgery for the Le Fort fracture!!
I know...I know...I am too trusting
I can't help it.
I choose to live a life where the glass is always 'half-full'...where I assume that other people are basically nice...good...will behave ethically...I think..."well the patients,-who are all complete strangers to me-,are trusting me not to kill them...and perhaps ...perhaps even to cure them...and so I have a sense of 'reciprocal trust'"
I believe that I really should care for my patients and look out for the stupid and uneducated,even if the candle of empathy is flickering in the cold wind of complete indifference.
I believe that individuals can make a difference...that ideas move nations...that we all count ...
I have had the privilege of sitting with President Mandela at 6a.m.,drinking tea and discussing life...he called me 'a true South African'
I know its stupid but I simply refuse to live that bitter and cynical life that so many people choose to live... that life of quiet desperation.
And of course...this patient was known to me...I have their name and address...and despite all the warm fuzzy remarks above,I am still 1,8m and 135kgs of p*ssed-off South African...who knows where you live you halfwit!!!
And trust me,revenge is a dish best eaten cold...very cold.
But of course,because the theft happened at work I had to call the police.
I should probably say at the outset that I have little time for police officers-for a whole variety of reasons related mainly to my experiences in South Africa...where the police enforced immoral laws such as the so-called Section 10 Pass Laws,where 'Black' South Africans were forced to carry a "Pass", (a form of internal passport) and could be arrested if they didn't have it on them when stopped.
I was 16 when I was interrogated by the Security Police for the first time.
My 'crime' was that I had organised a donation of books to start a library in a 'Black' school in a 'Black' township...and as a 'White' teenager,I had no 'legal' right to be there.
Now let me tell you...in 1973, when those guys read you your rights it went something like this...
"You have the right to scream...You have the right to scream as loud as you want...No one cares...You have the right to vomit...and if you vomit on me,you will scream"
Over the years that followed,as my involvement in 'anti-apartheid' activities increased,the aggravation frankly just got to be part of my life...the unnecessary traffic stops for example...and the 2a.m. phone calls which usually went something like "Hey you fat bast*rd...we'll shoot you tomorrow"
Well...shoot me...or don't shoot me...but is it really necessary to wake me at 2a.m. just to call me fat ?
Now that's a cruel and inhumane punishment.
Of course in the end despite 2 documented attempts on my life they didn't manage to kill me although on one memorable Friday morning in Thokoza,in 1993,they did kill my friend Jeff Sibiya,who was waiting patiently for me to come and deliver some food parcels.
I was delayed.
And after the end of apartheid things didn't really improve...as one of the Security Policeman said..." once a human-rights activist,always a trouble maker-don't think that your file has been shredded"
Of course,it did get easier to bribe the cops.
I had hoped that the UK would be different,but its not.
The police here ponce around in their circumcised ,priapic hats,speaking slowly in that mangled ,ostensibly English vocabulary,seldom seen and ineffective at anything other that wrestling with drunks-'rugby training' as we call it in Jo'burg-and ensuring that they are -at all times-politically sensitive and correct.
Two years ago I was assaulted by 3 teenagers...the height of summer,one Sunday afternoon,walking along the local boardwalk,enjoying the time off in the sun....no one came to help despite there being a Lifeguard station about 20metres away...naturally I fought back and cornered the teenagers in a shelter and phoned '999' for help...of course , they never came...eventually the kids ran away...and having waited another 10 minutes,I cancelled the call.
The next day I was contacted and told to immediately attend the local cop-shop to file a statement about cancelling the '999' call.
How dare I waste police time ,I was asked?
I seem to recall that my long and articulate and complicated post-ironic reply,citing case law,Shakespeare and even Euripides went something like this..."F**k 0ff"
This resulted in an endless correspondence with the Chief Constable including at one stage being invited to join the Police Authority!!
And so,with very little hope that the police would actually do anything,I phoned their "customer contact centre"
It was a surreal conversation which ended by the call-taker saying that since it was "only" my word against that of the patient,that the police would not be investigating the theft.
Just like that then.
The bizarre conversation included the following two questions:-
So I'm sorry to ask you this...but what is your date of birth?
"Lady...ask me anything you want...you can ask me the size of my willy if it will help get my PDA back!!"
Well!!...there's no need to be crude Sir!!
Finally...would you like me to send someone from Victim Support to help you through this crisis?
"Well...firstly...its not a crisis...the situation in Darfur is a crisis...this is a theft...and so...what I want...what I really really want...is for you to arrest this miscreant and then run so much electricity through their privates that they confess to the assassination of Kennedy !"
Well...we probably don't torture people here Sir...
By the way...who is this Mr Kennedy that you're talking about?
Was he involved in the theft ?