“But sir, the list is full for today. We could reschedule her for tomorrow_”
“Dr Oreslif, I do not want to drag this conversation with you. Please get me a spot on that MRI machine in 5 minutes. Thank you” and he hung up.
Dr Aberden stood up, with a sigh. Everyone seemed to be usurping his authority today. Where was that Jarvis nitwit anyway? He stood up and began to mentally prepare for the surgery. This was going to be quite easy, he mused as he prepared his own special kit of instruments. No set of instruments were ever sterilized enough for him, hence he always sterilized them himself. He then decided to go check on his patient.
As he got close to the ward,he could hear Jarvis saying, “…..don’t be worried ma’am, this is only a diagnostic precaution to ensure nothing goes wrong. Do you have allergies to potassium permagnate? Oh you don’t? Perfect. Let’s proceed”
Dr Aberden stopped in his tracks. Potassium permagnate? That did not sound right. He rushed into the ward, his face white with anger just as Jarvis had proceeded to dab some of the solution on the patient’s chest.
“What insolence! Dr Jarvis, you’re supposed to be preparing the patient for the MRI procedure! This is not a science laboratory; it’s a hospital! What nonsense do you think you’re doing?”
Jarvis was so stunned, he could only stutter. “Sir……er, I was……..just clearing some doubts……….er, you have to trust me” he pressed on as his boss pushed him out of the way and proceeded to wheel the bed of the confused lady out of the ward. Jarvis tried to stop him. “Sir, please listen…..”
A blow to his face made the universe hazy for a minute. He staggered as Dr Aberden rushed the patient out towards the diagnostics unit of the hospital.
The commotion had attracted everyone, including the HOD and they watched in shock as Dr Jarvis nursed a left black eye on the corridor, embarrassment written on his face.
A few minutes, there was an uproar in the diagnostics department. Jarvis rushed towards the direction of the noise, and got there just in time to witness Dr Aberden get the biggest dressing-down of his life.
“Raoul, I never expected such foolishness from you! What kind of doctor are you? Do you think studying diseases and pristine surgeries are all there is to medicine? Would a little more history taking have hurt your pride, o Zeus of surgical department? Eh, Mr Excellent Hands, All-sufficient Doctor, bright mind at his most foolish peak! Your unquestionable intelligence was about to cost you your patient’s life, and me an MRI machine. And all it could have take you…..”
Dr Oreslif was ranting at the top of his voice. Now, that was rare; Tiv Oreslif was rarely know to lose his cool. He glanced at the old lady, who clearly was confused – and then he saw it.
A dark purple spot was slowly spreading on her chest. The same area where he had poured the solution.
Dr Raoul Aberden was not having any of the shouts. “For God’s sake, Tiv! It seems your Finnish ancestors are beckoning on your wisdom today so all that’s left for you to use is your folly! How dare you shout at me this way without any reason?”
“Actually, sir, he has every right to shout at you”. All eyes turned to Jarvis, standing in the doorway, hands in his pocket, the bruise around his eye taking on a bluish hue.
Jarvis approached the old lady. “Mrs Hope, you told me once you joined a Coventry of some sorts when you were sixteen. Is that right?”
The old lady’s eyes brightened. “Ah, yes dear doctor. The good old days when I thought not getting married would help me serve my God better. Guess I was a bit wrong” she chuckled.
“Ma’am, do you remember using a cross? A tiny, iron cross-like pendant that washed in something clear and given to you to wear or tattoo?”. Everyone looked at each other in confusion.
Suddenly, the lady sat up, quite surprised. “As a matter of fact yes. I had a 3.5 inch cross pendant put in my chest, you know, to keep the Lord closer to my heart” she blushed shyly. “I never remembered to remove it when I left the Coventry. Probably because I was so disgusted with the pretense I totally forgot about the icon”. She looked at Jarvis in confusion. ” Is that what caused this purple color on my chest? And these little particles, they sure look a bit gray….”
Jarvis turned to his senior doctor, who looked like he wanted to enter the floor. “Sir, it was a common practice for the Sestrum Coventry nuns to make implants of tiny cross-like replicas into their chests, wrists, and arms – it was considered a way of taking the LORD with you everywhere. Of course it is now common knowledge that God is everywhere, and most of these women later had these things removed, but she didn’t. The little piece of iron in her chest is what caused the fibrosis you saw, but it never affected her lung function because she lived a very healthy life, until of recent when her immunity went a bit low, of course due to her old age. Due to the fact that the body formed fibrous tissue around the iron object, it was quite hard to see from an anterior x-ray film….”
“And if you had done the lateral x-ray, you would have seen a sort of branch-like pattern, showing areas of fibrosis in the lungs originating from that one spot where the cross was implanted, due to the fact that some of the iron particles got carried via the blood stream to those areas….my God, Jarvis you’re a genius”. The HOD came forward, placing a hand on his shoulder. ” And if you never found this out, this lady would have had this object pulled out of her chest by the machine, and would have bled to death, plus having to repair an MRI machine and restoring power to half the hospital!” He spun round, to face a red-faced Dr Aberden, who was slowly coming round to what he had almost done. “For a brilliant mind like you, I never expected this kind of mockery!” and he stormed out, giving orders for a mini – OR to be set up so the cross could be removed from the lady’s chest.
“Potassium permagnate solution was used as an ancient antiseptic for wounds and the skin, sir” Jarvis quietly said to answer the confused look on his supervisor’s face. “It’s documented in manuscripts so old they never made it to the internet. The cross used for her was tinted with gold, which turns purple when it reacts with the solution under normal conditions. I wrote about her being a nun in the history file, sir. You never checked it. No disrespect to you, Dr Aberden; you know your patients’ diseases, but I know your patients”.
As he left the diagnostic room, he could hear someone saying, “Some instincts he got, man!”
But Jarvis knew better. As he got back to his desk and applied some ice to his eye, he whispered gratefully, “Thank you, Holy Spirit”.
Efunnuga Henrietta Adedayo.