*all information has purposely been obscured for privacy reasons*
On a random day, at a random hospital, on a random shift, presented a patient from a poor background, working a simple job with even simpler pay.
“My throat is tight sir” he said.
Must be another tonsil, or another viral infection, I thought. “Tell me more”.
“I went to a clinic 9 days ago, and they gave me an antibiotic and two injections for the pain sir.”
The usual suspects, i thought, infection or general pain symptoms hit with antibiotics and pain killers. GP shotgun tactics that work 99.9% of the time.
“Ah, so you had a cough and muscle pain yeh?”
“No sir, for the pain in my foot” his voice getting slightly hoarse now.
“Foot? I thought the issue was your throat?” What a joker, i thought, stick to one complaint.
“Yes sir, I stepped on a nail at work, and went to the clinic because it was painful. So they gave me two injections and an antibiotic. Heres my paper.”
Two painkillers, and one antibiotic. Wheres the tetanus jab? This cant be right.
“Lie flat please” and I checked his throat.. It was clear, so were his chest and heart examinations.
“Relax your tummy sir” i asked
“Im relaxed” he said
“No seriously, dont be afraid, just relax” i repeated
“Im relaxed sir” he said hoarsely
My heart sunk. His abdomen was as rigid as a board.
Its 2016, very, very few people get tetanus with the availability of the vaccinations against it being so common place. It can be fatal if untreated, and how many people a day present with a sore throat makes it so easily missed.
The symptoms take a while to progress, but when they do, they can kill. Excruciating spasms, speedy heart rates, inability to breath. They require round the clock ICU care for anytime between 4-6weeks in an induced coma.
I still pass by to say hello, even though he cant hear or see me. And it was so heartwrenching to see his brother, standing by his bed not knowing what or how this happened, only hoping he gets through it.
Heartwrenching, to see a poor fellow who did what he thought was all he could to take care of himself, in an induced coma, spasming fully in pain, even though hes out of it.
Patients put their trust in us as doctors to know whats best. They trust that in the next few hours, we’ve got their back.
Im sorry dear sir, that you werent provided with what you needed when you needed it.
But my prayers are with you, and Ill be by your side.