Sunday Humour: When young doctors got together to deal with young engineers  

When tired, young doctors found the perfect solution to get rid of young, boisterous engineers demanding attention post-midnight on Saturdays!

Sunday Humour: When young doctors got together to deal with young engineers  

(Retd) Lt General UK Sharma

I will begin with a caveat. Officers of Engineers, Signals and EME are some of my closest friends. But this was not always so and frankly, our ‘friendship’ began on a far from cordial note.

I began my internship at M H Khadki. The hospital was located halfway between the College of Military Engineering (CME) on one side and Rahul Cinema/ Deccan Gymkhana on the other. CME was populated with young officers doing their degree courses. In the extremely competitive academic world of CME, they were kept rather busy all through the week. The only day they got a chance to breathe was on Saturday evenings. Even their Sundays were spent in preparing assignments and studying for Monday tests.

Many of them were married. Trainee Officers had neat housing facilities within the campus. But their young wives had little to do even as their husbands slogged it out even after returning home from a hard day’s work. The only day they went out was on a Saturday evening, for a dinner followed by the new English movie being screened at Rahul Cinema.

The last show concluded at midnight. After that, a scoop of ice cream or Mango Pulp, or even a flavoured paan would take another halfan-hour, before they headed back home. M H Khadki was so conveniently located that many of them would be tempted to make a brief halt and seek consultation for their minor ailments as they could not report sick for all week.

The bikes would zoom into the Emergency at an ungodly hour. First, the duty Nursing Assistant would be woken up by a boisterous crowd of four or five officers, their pretty spouses in tow. And then, having registered themselves, they would ask the already exhausted ADMO to be aroused from sleep, after he had attended to a series of drunken civilian Ordnance Factory workers earlier in the evening.

The groggy, fatigued and disoriented solitary intern would come rubbing sleep out of his eyes, only to attend to a common cold, bronchitis, a chronic backache, a difficult constipation or a stye in the eye.

All these while the Central Clinic at CME posted with multiple medical officers would have it easy all through the week. Meanwhile, our senior DMO, a faculty member, would have turned in at 1030 pm and blissfully slept through it all. This Saturday late evening mayhem became the only subject of conversation among five of us interns in the Mess. We began to dread Saturday ADMO duties.

Sunday mornings, the DMO would wake up from his sound sleep to find us bleary-eyed, short of sleep, angry and frustrated. He would toss us the standard question- what had we been up to all night? Our DMOs were Senior Majors and would only be woken up in real emergencies. Our patients were three-star captains of the prestigious CME. And the hapless ADMO was a raw two-star Lieutenant of AMC, and a mere intern.

So, one evening over tea and snacks with Major MSC, our generous host and a fellow AFMC alumnus, the topic came up for discussion. The interns were all upset and sought a solution from him.

“Pyare, the solution is very simple.” said Major MSC.

“Do tell us Sir!” we implored him.

“There are enough vacant beds in the Young Officers’ ward. Whenever these late night ‘patients’ turn up, just admit them to the hospital, write long case notes, order a host of investigations. Do a few procto-sigmoidoscopies and detailed throat examinations. Order physiotherapy and extension exercises for the backaches. Do not accept a refusal for admission from your patient. He will protest, plead and request permission to drop his spouse home. Remain polite, and promise to get the spouse dropped home by the call duty vehicle. Do this religiously for four Saturdays, and see the fun.”

We were galvanised into action. There were a few who were outraged by our decision to admit them into the hospital. A couple of them tore up their registration-cum-prescription slips and walked out in a huff. They were politely informed that their names were recorded in the A & E register and their unit would be informed. (This was only a subtle threat, never carried out.)

The Nursing Assistant was instructed to prominently record their time of reporting to the hospital. Their spouses would also plead with us not to admit them. We would stand firm on our decision and made it clear that reporting sick at a late hour could not possibly be for a trivial medical complaint.

The word spread across the campus of CME within two weeks. It was a huge loss of attendance and classes for the ones who were admitted even for a couple of days. Their symptoms magically vanished and they felt hale and hearty by next morning. They admitted sheepishly that perhaps they had overreacted to their symptoms and requested for discharge from the hospital.

The wives’ grapevine contributed immensely to spreading the word. The college authorities began anxiously calling up the hospital to inquire about the wellbeing of their officers. Suggestions were made to us through their friends on the hospital staff to discharge them early as their attendance and studies were getting affected. But we held firm.

It was mean to subject the constipated few to unnecessary proctoscopies and sigmoidoscopies but it helped us overcome our own hesitation in doing these procedures and helped us attain perfection. The hospital laboratory cribbed about being inundated with investigations.

The results were obvious within four weeks. The late-night sick reports petered out to a complete stop. We also heard that the civil medical practitioners running their clinics across the road from CME Main Gate began getting many more patients.

We were painted as the young villains of M H Khadki. I know this because a couple of years after our internship, I met a few Engineer Graduates of CME at my new posting and heard about our reputation from them. They were explained how the whole thing had developed and we all had a good laugh.

They are dear friends of mine today, even after 38 years. As always, Major MSC’s perfect solution was highly successful in solving the late-night chaos of Saturday Nights

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