culled from a Dr’s blog

A 9 year old patient had come in yesterday with an
acutely painful testicle. We were worried that this was
testicular torsion – a surgical emergency which results
from, surprisingly, your testicles getting in a twist. His
mother was not keen on him having the surgery and it
took about an hour and a half to persuade her that
this was necessary. The surgery was performed
overnight and found a torted hydatid – a little extra bit
on the testicle which is the remains of the female
reproductive organs (from when the boy was a
foetus). This has no known function and is not
important, and doesn’t need surgery if it is diagnosed
before the operation. The problem is, having a
twisted testicle is an emergency and you don’t want
to faff about trying to work out which one it is with
ultrasounds and the like if you are unsure – leaving
the testicle twisted for too long will result in it dying
permanently. In fact there is a surgical ‘saying’ –
“”Testicular pain – don’t engage brain”
The next day, the child was well and happy to go
home, but the mum was not happy. I had been left to
review this child, as the consultant and registrar had
gone to theatre for a different case. The mum was
upset that we had operated on the child and found
nothing wrong, and upset that we had removed the
dead hydatid of Morgagni which had been causing
the pain. The reasons for this were that she knew that
there was no problem with her child’s testicle (hence
why she was initially refusing the operation) because
she was very religious, and she knew that God
wouldn’t want to harm her baby; she was upset that
we had carried out the operation as she felt that God
had been testing her faith and she had failed,
showing she didn’t trust in him to provide for her;
and she was upset that we had removed the dead
twisted tissue (why did God put it there if it has no
use).
A picture found from the internet of an ultrasound of
someone’s testicle with the face of the Egyptian god
of male virility in it
First, I was glad that the consultant was not around,
as I would probably not hear the last of him being
compared to God in ‘providing’ for this woman. I
wasn’t too sure how to address her concerns though.
I tried to explain that bad things did happen to kids (a
point helped by being in the middle of a ward full of
sick and disabled children); I tried to point out that
perhaps the presence of the hospital was a way for
God to provide for this woman in her time of need;
and tried to convince her that we had no known
function for this tissue, and its removal shouldn’t
affect her son in any way. She was not amused by my
attempts at explaining things and kept trying to drag
me into a theological argument. All of this was
watched by the husband who was clearly on ‘my’ or
the medical establishments side with regards to the
need for the operation, but not keen on speaking up.
I feel a lot of the passionate arguments the mum was
giving were more for his benefit than mine. I am not a
religious person by any means and was trying to keep
things civil, but it took me an hour and a half to
escape.
An hour and a half!
I was called back twice for questions about wound
management by the nurses, which just turned out to
be more theological arguments over why God
wouldn’t want to hurt this boy, and how he must have
a special plan for the hydatid of Morgagni, if only we
would wait and see. I felt that these recalls were likely
due to the husband arguing things with the wife, so
she would bring me back and argue them with me.
Not ideal given we have about 20 other patients in the
hospital at the moment to look after. The third time
the nurses called me telling me she just had a couple
more questions before she left, I asked them to tell
her that I would happily come down if she promised
not to talk about God anymore, and if she had any
more questions of this nature then perhaps she
should take them up with the
hospital chaplaincy service. Unsurprisingly, she
changed her mind and decided that she didn’t need
to speak to me any more. I will have to go back
tomorrow and ask the nurse if they had to call the
chaplain as an emergency to explain the reasoning
behind an omnipresent,
omnipotent, omniscient, benevolent God.

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