Richard and I were out to dinner during our final year at school.
The waiter recommends the chicken special. We look at the menu and find that it’s the most expensive item on offer by far. Richard responds in which of the following three manners:
a) Are these famous chickens??
b) How many chickens do we get for this??
c) Does the chicken suck you off as well?????
To those of you who didn’t go to school with us, your worst fears are indeed true. To those of you who did, the correct answer is pretty obvious.
Oh yes. It actually happened.
How is everyone?
I’ve mentioned before that my attempts at imitating such humour have often been met with stone cold silence.
I remember being in the resuscitation unit looking after a road traffic accident victim during staff changeover, meaning that I was legitimately late for the meeting. I eventually arrived, and my boss said to me:
“I thought you were never going to come today!”
“Now you sound like my girlfriend!” I replied.
Hmmmm…. didn’t try that again.
Sometimes I feel like I really don’t belong in medicine. I’m simply too much of a child. There’s a part of me that simply refuses to grow up. Some people love it. Some people don’t. Even with that, I try as much as possible to be myself at work. As much as I love acting, being something that you’re not is just exhausting if you do it for too long.
As you know, I quit my job at the big teaching hospital I was at before, as, not only weren’t things going well, but I didn’t feel like I fit in there, and I simply wasn’t happy.
About this time last year, I went to a medical conference to present my research project (which I could’t because one of our collaborators made a critical error with their data), and met my now good friend Bishan at the conference dinner who was having a similar experience where he was previously. He suggested I come to join him at his new hospital (Wollongong) where people are a bit more relaxed and openminded. I went to check it out, and have been there for the last 2 months, and I have to say that I love it there. I’m currently doing intensive care, and will spend the rest of the year in emergency. It’s hard work, but I’m part of a great team that gets on really well, and I feel like I can be myself. People seem to be very accepting of me as a person in general, as well as valuing my work.
Just this weekend, I was discussing one of the liver surgery patients with one of the other doctors.
[Dr X]: I think he can go to the regular ward, now.
[Me]: but [Dr Y] said that he should stay until his liver function improves.
[Dr X]: but he’s not here, though, is he? He’s at home jacking off. The patient can go to the surgical ward.
It’s awesome- everyone’s really friendly, and I’ve sold lots of CDs- people seem to be genuinely interested in watching me play. Incidentally, I recently recorded my second EP, and the CDs arrived yesterday. If you’re interested, you can order it here: www.victorsteele.com/v-factor
One year on, the conference came round again. I’d completed my research project after many revisions, and had practised my presentation lots of times- this forms my research requirement for the emergency medicine college: I need to pass it in order to be eligible to take my final exam. No pressure. This year, the conference was on the Gold Coast (near Brisbane), so I hired a holiday apartment there and arrived the night before. Bishan was arriving the following day, and called me in the morning
[Bishan]: hey, Victor- I’m about to leave for the airport. I was just thinking….. Should I bring my guitar…?
[Me]: well… I’ve brought my guitar…..
Contrary to the previous year, I actually found most of the presentations quite interesting and useful- not esoteric and designed to ego-trip. I had a practise run through mine with Bishan and again with my research supervisors, and those went pretty well, as did the presentation on the day. However, the people presenting before me ran over time, and so the chairman only allowed questions from the college adjudicators who proceeded to relentlessly fire the most awkward and detailed questions at me. Most of which I handled reasonably. I didn’t realise that it was being streamed live online, and I found out afterwards while this was happening, people were tweeting in things like- “I feel so sorry for this guy….”.
They told me the result an hour after ,which was the longest hour of my life, but then the adjudicator shook my hand and said that all 3 judges gave me full marks. I was massively relieved, as I didn’t want to let my supervisor down, and he was really pleased, too.
That night was the conference dinner at flash hotel. On our way to it, Bishan and I stocked up on some alcohol in case people wanted to come back to our place for an after party jam. A bit of a risk, as neither of us drink very much ourselves.
The band took a while to get going, and only very late in their set did they play anything that really had people moving. They played some cool 70s funk songs, but they were only taking up about 1/3 of the stage. Bishan and I looked at each other and smiled, knowingly.
“Should we get on the stage….?”
There was only one answer.
Bishan’s done some breakdancing, and was wowing people with it. I broke out some MC Hammer, and noticed that my supervisor was in front of the stage, staring at me in disbelief. I thought about stopping. Then I stopped thinking about stopping. This was our time. I jumped into the jazz splits instead. People were just staring at us as if to ask- “Are these guys actually doctors, or are they gatecrashers..???”
I remember noticing Bishan on the dance floor at last years conference and thinking ‘Hang on a minute- this guy can dance. I mean ACTUALLY dance!” That cemented the notion that we had to hang out some more. Also that night, one of the senior doctors at the conference dinner asked me “Are you a professional dancer???”. “No,” I replied. “I’m a doctor like you- ermmm… well…. not like you……. but I am a doctor.”
Anyway, the band finished their set and Bishan and I hugged each other and got off the stage. There are certain friends, and you all know who you are, who I almost never shake hands with. We always hug. It’s awesome to have so many of you in my life.
The night carried on with some DJ music, and there were 2 attractive women in their early 40s dancing in the middle of the dance floor with a large clearing around them. They weren’t doing anything particularly special, so I could only assume (retrospectively) that they were quite prominent figures- actually, one was Victoria Brazil, whose talk I had attended the previous day. She oversees and leads innovations in emergency medicine education for the entire country. Bishan grabbed her and took her for a spin involving some sexy salsa. I grabbed the other one and did exactly the same. The rest of the convention just stopped and stared, again asking “WHO ARE THESE GUYS???” . The song ended, and we thanked the ladies before moving on to the karaoke bar. As we were leaving, I bumped into a classmate from medical school in London. “Hi Victor- you do know who that woman was, don’t you….?” ” I dunno…” I replied, “… some girl called Michelle…”
“Yes,” he said, “that was Michelle Johnson. She’s the chair of the International Womens Emergency Medicine Forum. And you were doggy-styling her on the dance floor!”
I wasn’t going to let the fact that I’d just performed the medical equivalent of spanking Germaine Greer ruin what was turning out to be an incredibly fun night.
We killed it. Without being arrogant, we kind of expected to, as we both sing and write our own songs. However, we weren’t the only ones who did. I never, EVER thought I would see this, but one doctor took to the stage and had requested ‘Lose Yourself’ by Eminem. Not only that, but he freestlyled the lyrics to the whole song. He was awesome. Truly awesome. I was amazed. It’s great to see other doctors doing things that are way out of the box and being real human beings. It’s refreshing, and makes me feel like not such a misfit. After that, another doctor got up and did another rap- this time it was ‘(Don’t Just Stand There) Bust a Move’. He was awesome as well. Bishan and I looked at each other again.
“Should we get on the stage…?”
There was only one answer.
Again, we killed it, and the rapper/doctor thanked us for jamming with him on stage. Everyone was high-fiving us as we walked off.
The after party at our apartment went on till about 5am, and the convention started again at 9.
I bumped into Michelle Johnson that morning. She went bight red. I smiled.
“Thanks for the dance”, I told her.
“Thank you for the dance…” she said, as she was fanning herself.
There were lots of medics from New Zealand there, and it was great to catch up with them, as well as some of the medics from my previous hospital in North Sydney. I thought I’d offer them the leftover alcohol from the after party, as Bishan and I probably weren’t going to touch it. I said to Hannah and Becky: “Would you like some vodka and whisky?”.
They just shuddered.
Everyone had had a massive night, and drinking was the last thing on anyones mind.
It was a great convention- I actually learned some useful stuff, passed my research requirement, and got to jam with one of my best friends, and felt like I was actually a part of it.
I remember in my first year of work in NZ, I was assisting with a hip joint replacement. The boss was complaining to the other assistant that there was too much blood in the field. He couldn’t see what he was doing.
Boss: “More suction!” he said. “You can never have too much suction!”
Me: “Bill Clinton couldn’t agree more”
Until the next time.