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Interpersonal Understanding

Question DetailShow Details

In the passage below, a female patient has come to the emergency department complaining of abdominal pains.

The patient was half-sitting up on the table, a pillow in a plastic case behind her head, watching as the two doctors leafed through her notes. Although they were of a similar age, the taller doctor held an air of superiority. He, obviously the slightly more senior of the two, had some sort of seniority over the shorter doctor, even if he was only mere months older.

'The patient is complaining of abdominal pains. What do you do?' asked the taller doctor.

'Indigestion?' The shorter doctor barked the word right after her, as if it were a command and she were a dog. He glanced to his taller, apparently senior, colleague, then back at her, firing away: "Are you suffering from gas? Constipation? Nausea? Vomiting?‟

'Diarrhoea,' sighed the taller doctor. 'Not vomiting. You should've asked about diarrhoea.'

'Well?' the younger doctor was clicking his pen in and out, in and out, staring at her now. 'What about it? Have you had any diarrhoea?‟

12 The patient reddened. She‟d never have come to hospital for such a simple, obvious problem. It was as though these boys were playing guessing games and using her as the object of inquiry. They‟d barely given her a chance to answer.

'No.' The meekness of her reply annoyed her. It was met with more sighs from Dr Big.

'No. Of course not. You can‟t make a diagnosis from something as vague as “abdominal pains”; you need to determine where specifically the pain is coming from, how severe the pain is, whether the area is swollen. Come on, you know all this – it‟s so basic, even the nurses can do it. What are other causes of abdominal pains?' Shorty rattled off the list, counting on his fingers. 'Bowel cancer, intestinal obstruction, problems with the liver and kidneys, menstruation or pregnancy. Although this patient is too old to be menstruating or pregnant.'

'Right. Good. Now you‟re making observations. The next step is to do a thorough inspection of the area.‟ He turned his head to the patient, his hands already hovering over her. 'You don't mind do you?' he asked, almost as an afterthought.

Not trusting her voice, she merely shook her head.

The taller doctor nodded, pulled the patient‟s shirt up into her armpits and began to press different areas of her stomach firmly. Thank God I wore a new bra, she couldn't help thinking.

'Can you tell me please, in numbers from 1 to 10, the level of pain in each area I‟m touching?' His words were brisk and confident, his hands the same – though so cold on her skin. She could only nod in consent.

'Zero,' she said, as his cold, clinical fingers pressed at her left side. He pushed against her again and again, moving closer and closer to the sensitive area.

'Five,' she said. Then, she couldn't help squeaking as he moved round the area in rapid sucession: 'Seven… eight… ten…ten…ten!'

'Look closely,' he said to the short one. 'This area' – she winced as he pushed flames of pain into her again – 'is showing extensive swelling, and the patient is experiencing discomfort. Feel it.' He kept pressing into her,
35 shooting her through with fire, then instructing the other doctor to do the same. The patient inhaled sharply.

Just lie there, just lie there, she said to herself. Like a lamb at the butcher’s.

Question 1Show Details

Why does the patient redden (line 12)?





Question 2Show Details

Regarding his feelings towards the shorter doctor, the taller doctor might best be described as





Question 3Show Details

How does the patient feel about being examined physically by the shorter doctor (line 35)?





Question 4Show Details

In the context of the passage as a whole, which of the following best describes the actions of the shorter doctor?





Question DetailShow Details

Josh is Irene’s eldest son. Irene has recently been diagnosed with a terminal illness. They are discussing Irene’s decision to refuse treatment.

Josh: So basically, what you're trying to tell me is that you're giving up?

Irene: It's not about giving up. You and the boys all have families and jobs now. Your dad's been gone for almost 8 years. I've done my part. I don't want to hang on, in agony, making you all put up with me.

Josh: But we're all still your family! I just don't see how you can do this to us. What about your grandchildren? Okay, Dad is gone, but I‟m sure he wouldn't have wanted this. He would have wanted you to live as long as possible. It doesn't make any sense, Mum.

7 Irene: Josh. What's the use of me undergoing all that treatment? You saw how Uncle Fred was when he had the chemo. It gave him another two years of life. But it was unbearable for him. It took his hair and his appetite and his energy. That's what it's meant to do. It would do the same to me. And it was unpleasant for the rest of us, too. You boys were so frightened. That one time, we left the hospital and you were crying in the car. You couldn't stop crying. You can't honestly say that you‟d want to go through that again, love, can you?

Josh: Of course I would! Even if it only gave you another month it would be worth it. And from what the doctors are saying… you could see Parker graduate, and Matt's wedding. Matt and Emma are getting married next year. They'll want you there. Do it for them, Mum. For me. For us. Have the treatment. 15 Please. Please. Give it a go. And I won't cry this time, I promise! You can't just let yourself go…

17 Irene:I'm not scared, Josh. I feel ready for this. What's the point in me hanging on anymore?

Question 5Show Details

Irene‟s example of Uncle Fred (line 7) suggests that she is refusing treatment primarily because





Question 6Show Details

A day after the end of the passage, Josh accompanies Irene to her next doctor‟s appointment. The doctor asks if Irene has come to a decision about treatment, and Irene hesitates.

Based on his comments and feelings in the passage, how is Josh most likely to respond?





Question 7Show Details

How does Irene ultimately feel about her decision (line 17)?