‘The gross thing my patient tried to do’
JUNIOR doctors on hospital wards around the world experience some pretty wild events. One doctor, UK-based Adam Kay, kept a diary of his experiences on the wards, with some eye opening, heartbreaking, and funny results.
Below is an extract from his new book This is Going to Hurt, about his time working in the Labour Ward.
A horror story. Patient GL, whose genetic make-up appears to be 50 per cent goji berry recipes and 50 per cent Mumsnet posts, has announced she wants to eat her placenta. The midwife and I both pretend not to hear this - firstly because we don't know what the hos- pital protocol is, and secondly because it's completely revolting. GL calls it 'placentophagia' to make it sound more official, which doesn't particularly wash; you can make anything sound official by translating it into the Ancient Greek.*
She explains how natural it is among other mammals, which is another somewhat defective argument - we don't let other mammals do things like run for parliament or drive buses, nor do we normalise other things they do like f*****g the furniture or eating their young (or 'paedophagia', as she'd presumably call it).
I turn the conversation to the more pressing matter of clapping some forceps on her baby's head and getting it out. This happens smoothly and baby is fine - and will continue to be until it gets home schooled and taken on all-naked, yurt-based family holidays. A couple of minutes later, I'm delivering the placenta and look up to have the awkward discussion about what GL would like me to do with it. She has a kidney dish in her hands and is shovelling handfuls of blood clots into her mouth.
"Isn't this the placenta?" she asks, blood dribbling out of the corner of her mouth like the disgusting progeny of Dracula and the Cookie Monster. I explain that it's just some clots I left in a bowl after delivering baby. She turns ashen, then green. Clearly blood isn't the delicious post-delivery snack she imagines placenta might be. She holds up the kidney dish and vomits into, onto and around it. Sorry, I mean experiences haematemesis.
* 'Cholelithoproctophilia' would be shoving gallstones up your a***, but I've just made it up. 'Orbitobelonephilia' - sticking needles in your eyes. 'Craniophallic anastamosis' - d***head.
This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay is published by Picador UK, RRP $18.99. Out now.