I heard once that Christmas day is the busiest day of the year in A&E. I think we've all heard that, and most of us will have no idea if it's true or not, but let's continue to take it as fact.
I also think I heard the explanation in for this in large part was alcohol-fuelled bravado leading to unqualified and ill-advised demonstrations by big people of toys purchased for little people. Which I'll also choose to continue believing, because it has some serious comedic value to it.
'Drunk Uncle (Druncle?) takes skateboard out for test ride' is preferable to 'Druncle takes skateboard to other Uncle', although I'm sure there is no shortage of both.
Our household had a backyard-cricket-induced broken collarbone last Christmas Eve. Cousin soared through the air at full stretch, fumbled it, and broke his collarbone upon reunion with the lawn as quick as you can say "this is what happens when I have to be three slips at once".
Embarrassing? Hardly. No one at A&E batted an eyelid, which is a fairly good indicator that the yellow plastic bat had claimed a fair few victims prior. You'd be forgiven for thinking children's toy inflicted injuries would have to be right up there as far as embarrassment in A&E goes- but to think that is to be highly unimaginative of where lightbulbs can go.
Speaking of which, I can't help but wonder how long it takes for a frontline medical professional to see 'everything'. To have done it all and seen it all.
Given the rapid fire pace of the hospital, the newcomers must be forged in their baptism of fire so quickly that they retain inexperience only until morning tea break of their very first shift, the one when they also learn there is no such thing as a morning tea break on their shift. They walk out of the first day ten years wiser, and older.
So when I met a trainee medical professional on her very first day last week, it was like seeing the birth of a new life, the growth from a sapling to a great oak, a building rising and being razed all at once. I had caught a moment in time so brief and yet so significant that I knew I was lucky.
She was easy to spot. The trainees are given different scrubs to the other nurses, a darker navy, perhaps more adept at hiding the body fluids they are not yet accustomed to dodging.
When I walked into the room, she had her arms stretched down towards the ground, hands writhing and entangled in front of her waist, shoulders rolled forward, legs crossed in something like the third position of ballet. She was about to take my blood, and she was about twice as nervous as I was.
I had already been asked if it was fine by me that I be a guinea pig, and it was. I read a fantastic book this year called 'Better', by the author and surgeon Atul Gawande. He talked about the ethical dilemma medicine faces in training new staff to take up the torch: to do so comes with inherent risk of substandard medical treatment, and undoubtedly costs lives. To not do so bring certainty of such.
I've also heard somewhere about 'Black Wednesday', or the 'July Effect', in the healthcare system- the day and month where newly graduated medical students flood onto hospital floors, and there is a notable spike in patient mortality rates.
Gawande himself opened up in a shocking and moving revelation about how his inexperienced attempt at a procedure once almost cost a patient their life, for no reason other than his bumbling amateurishness- but as he says, the world's best brain surgeon once cut into a brain for the very first time.
As unnerving of a reality as it is, everyone has to start from a place of zero prior experience- including those whom we entrust with our lives.
And so, bolstered by a sense of social responsibility to secure the continual flow of prior experiences required to equip the next generation with skills to save lives, I'd said yeah, why not.
The girl didn't quite shake, but her voice did as I made small talk. "How many patients have you taken blood from so far?" seemed a natural question. "Well, technically, two" she writhed as she swabbed my arm with an alcohol wipe using such precision and delicacy it felt more like a day spa than a day unit.
She stuck me first go and did a bloody good job of it actually. No complaints at all, and I made sure that she knew just how well she had done. She absolutely beamed with such excitement I couldn't help but smile either.
Another first for her, another first for a medical trainee who will go on to make a positive difference. No, not the blood draw- I was her third of course.
No, I was the first person she had treated who had cracked their elbow on a waterslide while furiously racing against 8 children. Her first 'waterslide story'.
Someone else can have the lightbulb moment.