The screens behind the desk in the Cardiac Care Unit blinked endlessly, so numerous that it resembled the bridge of a spacecraft. Green traces danced on black screens, their undulations hypnotic, surrounded by other colourful numbers and accompanied occasionally by a frantic bleeping, a warning that something might be amiss, briefly scything through the crisp silence of the ward.
I sat behind the control panel waiting for the morning ward round to begin, making polite conversation with the F1. It felt like an eternity before the consultant eventually strolled in, but when it occurred his arrival was somewhat shocking. Here he was, a consultant cardiologist, a man responsible for helping the public maintain the health of their hearts, that most precious of visceral organs, and yet he appeared to be one of the least healthy individuals present.
He sat down, removing his jacket as he did so and revealing a white shirt stretched tightly over layers of fat, already soaked with patches of sweat. Short sleeves revealed dumpy arms flowing into sausage-like fingers, which he used to reposition a pair of large, frameless glasses perched precariously on a wide snout. An almost crimson face flowed seamlessly into his torso, the outline of his neck all but obliterated by an abundance of adipose tissue, a blood red tie seemingly the only thing preventing it from bursting through the collar of his shirt.
There was no greeting for anyone. Without so much as a word, he simply waddled off to begin the ward round, the team left scrambling in his wake. As he saw each patient, I contemplated what their opinion of him must be, and whether or not they too recognised the irony of being instructed to eat less and exercise more by Dr Fatso.
Having completed a slow, laborious lap of the ward, he relaxed back into the chair of the spacecraft and began fiddling with his phone, jabbing at it with his stubby fingers. In the chair beside him sat the F1.
“I’m just going to order Mrs Watson’s chest X-ray,” she decided timidly as she dialled the phone.
No response. Dr Fatso failed to acknowledge the statement or even her existence, remaining entirely focused on the device in front of him.
“Oh, hang on a second just let me just check. Dr Fatso, what was the indication for this lady’s chest X-ray again?”
Tap tap tap.
“Dr Fatso, why is she having the chest X-ray?”
“Was it to check the position of her chest drain?”
Still no response. He remained fixated on his phone, on whatever game it was that had taken his fancy, the only sound he made being the ear-splitting nose whistle that carved seamlessly through the subdued atmosphere.
“I’ll have to get back to you on that one I’m afraid! Sorry!”
As she placed the phone down on the receiver, a procession of general surgeons strode across the ward, quickly surrounding one of the more unwell patients. Dr Fatso looked up from his phone to observe, his attention captured by one of the younger female surgeons. His eyes followed her across the ward. The curtains closed around the patient as the last of the surgeons joined the huddle, Dr Fatso’s cue to announce to all within earshot: “Phwoar! Did you see the blonde over there? That short skirt was rather eye catching if you know what I mean.” He roared with sleazy laughter.
I shook my head in disbelief. Some of the best people I have ever been fortunate enough to meet have been doctors, but as was the case with Dr Fatso, so have some of the most irritating. I wondered who would be the Dr Fatso from our cohort. I wondered if it would be me. I hoped not, but then again, few set out with the intention of becoming Dr Fatso.