Thursday, 6 March 2008

The Dr. Thunder Archives

So, In the absence of a work permit for the next week or so, blogging has been thin on the ground. I'd hoped to have many varied tales of life and death exploits in the neonatal unit to share with you by now. But sadly not.

Now, I'm assuming nobody wants to read about my daytime-TV-watching exploits, or my latest martial arts injuries. Therefore...ladies and gentlemen....let me present....episode 1 of....


Until my work permit comes through, I'm going to reminisce about the good old days (ie the pre-blogging glory days!). I'll be writing about some of the experiences that have shaped me, for better or worse, into the quack that I am today ;)

I was reading the excellent "studying under a palm tree" blog today ( This is a blog by a young Australian medical student, who is currently coming to terms with putting drips into patients, and taking blood.

This brought back fond memories of a student Thunder enthusiastically learning the noble art of intravenous access. It all started in our 2nd year GP placement. Myself and my colleague were told by the GP tutor to take blood from each other.

We'd both seen each other's manual dexterity on show in the dissecting room, where neither of us had covered ourselves in glory.

"let's just do this, mate. Get it over with, then get to the pub", I said to Pete.

"OK, I'll go first" he replies.

So, I'm sitting there. Pale, shaky, sweaty. I'd not seen anyone looking so nervous in a long time. Until i looked at pete, clumsily clutching a HUGE needle in his tremulous hands.

"Oh Jesus".

Attempt 1: Well, it was in my ARM. Nowhere near a vein, but at least it was the right limb. Oh, the pain, though.

Attempt 2: "er, i think that's my artery"

Attempt 3: "aaaaarrrrrggggghhhhhhhhhhhh"

To this day, the nerve implicated in attempt 3's disaster has never fully recovered.

At this point, pete gave up, and I was all ready to get my revenge. I picked up the needle. Cleaned his arm. Stuck the needle in........


Sweet baby Jesus, blood is gushing into the syringe.

My GP tutor expertly guided me through the rest of the process. End result..successful blood taking. 1st time. Thank you very much.

So, after a week of being Mr. Cocky around campus, I found myself on the liver ward in the local hospital, under the "supervision" of a very tired intern.

This exhausted girl seemed at the edge of reason as things stood. So, when she was presented with 6 2nd year medical students for "clinical practise training" she almost cried.

"I don't suppose any of you guys can take blood or do cannulas, can you?". In unison, my 5 colleagues said "student Thunder can".

"Oh f*ck".

It seems that, in my attempts to impress a couple of the hotter medical students, I may have told them that I was "competent" in cannulating and taking blood.

"ah good. student Thunder, go and put a drip into the man in bed 4, and take the bloods that are written in his notes".

"Oh sh*t".

"and bring the other students. You can teach them how to do it."

"Oh B*ollocks".

Anyway, in I went, followed by a gaggle of white coats. The patient was the same as every patient I ever came across in liver wards in Scotland...he was an alcoholic, with severe liver disease, and very grumpy as he was in "cold turkey".

"Who the hell are you?"

"Hi sir, I'm student Thunder. I'm going to be putting your new drip in and taking some blood".

"OK, but I hate doctors, I hate paddys, and I hate needles".

So, a good start.

So, I'm ready to go. My colleagues were leaning over my shoulder...far enough behind me to gain protection from this Father Jack lookalike, but close enough to see exactly what I'm doing. So, bear in mind that, at this point, I'd never put a drip into anyone. I'd only taken one total fluke of a blood sample from Pete the rugby player, with his huge veins.

Attempt 1: I place the needle directly into the man's muscle. I don't know which muscle. Probably several muscles, as I went so deep.

"arrrgggggggghhhhh you f*ckin c*nt paddy, what the hell are you doing????".

My sweat levels are rising, my hands are trembling.

Attempt 2: Somewhere near the gentleman's shoulder, if I recall correctly.

"arrrrrggggggghhhhhhhhhh HELPPPPPPPPPPPPP, please HELLLPPPPPPPPPP. There's someone trying to kill meeeeeeeee". The sound of his shrieks would have deafened an elephant.

So, as 2 nurses and a doctor rushed into the cubicle, I'm standing there with a blood covered needle. There's blood all over the patient's arm. He's writhing in agony. This is not a good look for me.

"Get this f*cker out of here. He's a monster. He's trying to kill me"

I got shunted out of the way by the intern, who slided the cannula in effortlessly. The patient said "Thanks doc, I hardly felt it".

One embarrassed looking student Thunder stood outside the cubicle with his colleagues. "I thought you could do cannulas, Thunder?" says hot lady number 1.

"yea but he had really bad veins".


Just as I was trying to escape to the relative safety of the library, I heard the voice of another junior doctor behind me. "Thunder, I heard you saying earlier that you can take blood".


"yea, he's been telling us all week how good he is at it" says hot lady number 2.

"here, take blood from the man in cubicle 3. He's an intravenous drug user, so he hasn't got much in terms of veins. I have to run. Bring the other students with you, and show them how to do it" he says, as he disappears away down the corridor.

A bad, bad day.

I never got a date, and it was another 2 years before I successfully put a cannula in. Thought it would never happen.

But it did. It always does. So "stick" with it, kids :P

Practise on rugby players with huge veins.

And when you get good at it, make sure to tell EVERYONE ;)

*Also known as the Dr.Thunder gratuitous space-filling exercise


  1. hahaha great story Dr Thunder!


  2. Enjoyed that!

    I've met a few medics in my time who found everything except a vein... and they weren't students!

    But then, what do you expect after 36 hours on the the trot?

    So I say, stick with it PATIENTS!

    Looking forward to episode 2 now!

  3. I blame you Dr Thunder for my terrible run on the IV access front the other day! Missed them all! :P

    (only kidding!)

  4. hey I might be supervising you doing them soon, Polly lol

  5. Too funny! Like Steph I've met a few medics who've hit anything and everything but a vein, on one memorable occasion resulting in a surgeon having to be called.
    My hot tip though is never to let drunk vet students convince you (also drunk) that you have veins like a monkey and they would be perfect to practice on. Just don't! Bendy Girl

  6. Maybe Dr. Thunder... maybe (if we are living in the same city and at the same hospital!) -I'll have to keep an ear out for an Irish accent!