The Roads to Hell.

The not- so- young man had an attractive profile. He seemed highly educated and seemed to be somebody who had and enjoyed a fair amount of power and control. He was obviously rich and flashy, judging by his choice of automobile. I stared at him for a moment longer than would be considered polite or appropriate. I was curious.

He cradled something in the palm of his right hand. He gazed at it longingly, with a half- smile creeping up the side of his face. Someone either was being very naughty or cheekily funny. I mentally commend his dexterity as I watch him reply to the the person who was being funny/ naughty.

A jarring noise broke me out of my reverie . The disgruntled woman behind me and her Porche were both pissed apparently. How dare I block their holy path. The signal had turned green, and barely had I shifted from neutral to drive, Mr Powerfully Attractive beside me had sped off at 140 km/ hr whilst still cradling his phone and typing in his reply. He obviously had a spare set of eyes at the vertex of his head, and a spare brain tucked in somewhere dedicated solely to driving his outrageously fast car.

Being in my speciality, I am exposed to my fair share of MVCs (motor vehicle collisions) and ATV rollovers. Still, trauma cases are diluted by other less exiting things like cysts, tumors, congenital deformities and the most boring – cosmetic procedures. But for the past month and a half, I have been rotating in Trauma Surgery and I have access to pure, unadulterated Trauma. I have the honour of being privy to the injuries of the most mangled, messed up and sometimes maddeningly stupid stupid people on the roads.

The horrors we see everyday in the trauma room are hard to describe. It has to be seen to be believed. After every shift, as I buckle up to leave the parking lot- I wonder if I will be back to the trauma room (as a patient this time) before I reach home. Honestly. It does not matter if I am a usually careful driver. It does not matter if I am a defensive driver. All it takes is a split second. One error in judgement. One stupid driver. And that stupid driver doesn’t have to be me!

Every time I break hard, I have visions of the airbag exploding in my face, my neck whiplashing back and forth like that of a rag doll. I think of how my car would be crushed between the car ahead and the bus behind.I imagine my knees smashing up against the front and the force traveling up my femur and breaking it. I can imagine smashing my hardly- insulated- with- fat little body and breaking it in at least half a dozen places.

I can hear the sirens speeding down to the scene, the EMS men and women with their heavy duty gear extricating me from within the mangled mess. Them placing me on the long- board. Of them putting the C- collar around my neck and me thinking how loose it was and that they should use the paediatric one instead. Of my insides being strewn on the tarmac, of my precious blood pooling at the bottom of the driver’s seat and staining my lovely beige, leather seat. I can imagine them asking me my name, as I gurgle in response.  I can’t breathe because the broken ribs impinge each time I inhale. There are blood in places where they shouldn’t be. I am sure there is some leaking within my cranial cavity somewhere , and definitely some in my lungs. I wonder about the organs in my abdomen and there seems to be blood in my eyes- so my face must be a mess. I wonder which colleague would end up operating on me. Then things would go dark.

A bunch of highly trained surgeons and nurses would be called and told that a young female with multiple injuries is on the way. In as few words as possible, they would receive a brief description of what transpired. My GCS (Glasgow Coma Scale), vitals and injuries would be rattled off. They will gown up and wear personal protective barriers and get an amazing array of equipment set up. They would notify the blood bank and the OR. It is like a highly rehearsed play. Each one knowing exactly what their role is.

I would arrive at the scene- the leading lady. Strapped, tubed, compressed. Strangers, or rather in my case, people I sometimes work with, would cut away every shred of my clothing. Inspect every surface and orifice. Palpate, percuss, and  scan every inch. Chest tubes, IV lines,  endotracheal tube, urinary catheters, possibly the OR. Being moved to the TICU (trauma intensive care unit), then the ward after a few days (if I’m lucky).

Everyday, I would meet at least three nurses. Doctors from neurosurgery, orthopaedics, maxillofacial and trauma surgery (at the least) would round on me. The dietician, physical therapist and occupational therapist would determine what I eat, and how many times I get to sit up or get out of bed.

And if I survive with my sanity and limbs intact, it would be just the beginning of the long, hellish road to recovery. This, thanks to the imbecile of an idiot in the car ahead of me who was busy texting a reply while he swerved and braked suddenly to avoid the 6000QAR penalty for running a red light.

Honestly, I dread these roads. Folks, before you pick up the phone to reply to that inane, unimportant message or call, remember that you have but a pair of eyes. You may consider yourself an expert driver, but this time doesn’t necessarily have to be like the thousand times before. We have seen it far too many times. The young and healthy, the old and accomplished, the rich and poor- losing life and limb to the Road.

Trust me, having your brain matter splashed on the road, or bleeding to death in your car is not a pleasant way to go. Heck, even breaking one rib (forget the multiple fractures I spoke about here) or one tiny bone in your hand is insanely annoying.

I hope I never meet any of you lovely folks in the Trauma Room.

Have a lovely and safe weekend y’all! And please, ditch the damned phone while driving. Please.


Till next time,

Dr J.

2 thoughts on “The Roads to Hell.

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  1. Each day when I leave my house in morning, I pray and hope in my mind that I return home safe and sound since I’m going to be driving on the roads in doha..

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