I was a medical student and he was...a psychic.
I met him when the surgeon who was my superior insisted that I take a scalpel and remove all the dead and infected tissue from the man's foot. "Keep cutting until you see blood or he can't take the pain." Those were the instructions I was given, along with a silver handled blade and handful of gauze. This was back in the day when the surgeon's mantra was "a chance to cut is a chance to cure." Maybe they still say that?
I was no surgeon. I looked at that blade with trepidation, had no desire to hurt anyone. He was a diabetic and he'd developed an infection that worsened - so I knew cleaning out the wound was necessary. I sat on a stool and got to work. I flinched when he changed positions, nervous that I'd hurt him or worse. I pictured myself accidentally cutting some tendon or nerve. What lunacy was this to hand me a blade at this stage of my training?
For the most part, he did fine. Diabetics have less sensation to their feet. But every once in a while, I could see his jaw tighten. I spoke to him, distracting him from thinking too much about me paring off small pieces of his foot. I'd asked him what he did for a living and he answered that he was a Boy Scout leader.
My son was in Boy Scouts, I knew most of those men had 'day jobs' so I asked what else he did. "I'm a psychic," he answered somewhat hesitantly. He didn't look like any psychic I'd seen (on tv). I was really interested now and continued to work on his foot while I asked him more questions. "Mostly missing kid cases, not often happy outcomes." He looked sad when he spoke and I thought to myself. This is real, this man is not a fake. He went on to explain that everyone has a bit of psychic ability. He said that if you walk into a room with two dogs-one friendly and one vicious-you would immediately sense which dog to stay away from. Hmm.
Fast forward to another rotation in my training. The psychiatric emergency room. The attending psychiatrist took me into an exam room, told me that the patient would be escorted in shortly. He asked me to move away from where I was sitting, to pick a seat further away from the door.
I saw and heard some of the activities in that emergency room. I thought staying by the door was a really good idea. He insisted, informed me that I should never be between a patient and their escape. He also said to respect my 'gut' and if I felt like I was in danger, I probably was.
The patient was escorted in the room. He answered questions in the beginning but eventually paced back and forth in the small room. I felt my stomach tighten. He stopped looking at either of us. Muttered and repeatedly ran his agitated fingers through his hair. I heard alarm bells screaming in my head. I looked at the psychiatrist but he was busy writing notes. The patient's pace increased, he swiveled, stomped on the floor. And suddenly erupted into motion. He leapt at the door, yanked it open and flew out. I almost vomited I was so scared.
Meanwhile the psychiatrist scribbled a few more lines without looking up. He finally spoke, "Did you feel it?" I nodded, still unable to talk, and followed him out of the room.
You have to respect your intuition. I've spoken to mom's who removed their children from a situation, only to find out later that their 'gut' had been right and their child was spared... just because a little voice was telling them that something wasn't as it should be. And how many times have I heard..."he just doesn't look right." I've learned to take that seriously!
So trust yourself when you get that inkling....