Back during my FY1 medicine attachment, I had the pleasure of looking after Mr C, a Chinese gentleman in his eighties, on the Stroke rehabilitation ward of our DGH. Not only had he had a stroke, he was also very deaf and only spoke Mandarin. His daughter managed to communicate with him by putting her mouth 0.01mm from his left ear and shouting as loud as she could. The other three patients in the bay always really enjoyed this. Loud Chinese shouting goes down well with demented and delirious old men.
Unfortunately during his short time with us (no, in the “he was eventually discharged” way, he’s not dead), Mr C suffered the black stool, possibly due to his aspirin. As such, it was decided he should pop down to endoscopy for an OGD. Of course, it’s not right to gain consent through a family-member-interpreter, so a real life professional was called in.
A tall slender mid 50s Chinese man arrived on the ward to help consent Mr C with the consultant on the ward round. Unfortunately the interpreter had a disappointing quality: he was meek. I don’t just mean shy, I don’t just mean quiet, I mean meek. The conversation began. Mr C saw a Chinese person, heard some sort of quiet Chinese babble and got very, very excited. Someone else who speaks Chinese! Someone I can speak to other than my overbearing daughter! I’m going to tell them everything about myself!
The interpreter’s meekness overwhelmed him. He could not get a word in edgeways. Instead he just switched to translate mode and told us that Mr C used to be a great Chinese Opera singer, just as the man himself burst into song.
Mr C’s excitement and deafness profoundly impacted on his performance, raising volume levels to glass-smashing heights. Needless to say, we all fell about laughing, professional as always. The consultant declared Mr C to be crazy and a Consent 4 was signed in Mr C’s best interests. Now where is the ethics in that?
Anyway, he got his test done which was the important thing, and we all had some great ward round entertainment.
Always the optimist.