Tell Me That Didn’t Happen

Enough talk about books. Today I will debase myself.

Perhaps you’re familiar with the funny doctor’s stories circulating on the Internet. They’re always good for a laugh. But often these jokes are at the patient’s expense.

Well, not today, folks. Today, the expense is all mine.

Travel back in time with me, back to an era of leggings, patterned sweaters, and scrunchies. Back to my days of residency training. This is my gift to you—four tales of humiliation sustained by yours truly. Relax and enjoy …

The Not-Good, the Bad, the Ugly, and the Sad

1. The Not-Good

Here I am, post-call from a night in the pediatric ICU, trudging to my weekly afternoon clinic. Tired, showerless, and still in scrubs, I whip out my happy face and greet my first patient, a five-year-old girl with a painful ear. After conducting the history, I smile and wheel my stool closer to the child, now perched upon her mother’s lap. As I lean in to auscultate her lungs, she turns to her mother and shouts, “Pew, Mommy, she stinks!”

Yeah? Well, you try smelling fresh and breezy after an adrenaline-fueled thirty hours in the PICU, Little Miss Antiperspirant!

She’s stinkier than this disgusting brown blob, Mommy.

2. The Bad

On a similar vein, again post-call, again exhausted from yet another stressful rotation, a different plucky youth in my afternoon clinic focuses his laser-like gaze on my generous beak. Then he widens his eyes and suddenly proclaims, “That pimple is huge!”

Aw, thanks Mr. Benzoyl Pediatric.

3. The Ugly

Flash forward to a couple years later. I’m now chief resident. I’m skilled. I’m professional. I’m delighted to pass time in my clinic after a full eight-hours of sleep. Eager to see my first patient, a fresh-from-the-womb newborn, I bound into the room and greet a young woman and a silver-haired man, the latter of whom is holding the baby.

“Hello, I’m Carrie Rubin,” I say. “So nice to meet you.” Then, glancing at the older man, I add in an exuberant tone, “And how wonderful that Grandpa could join us!”

The room falls silent. The mother looks at me, and with a voice that could melt an igloo, says, “This is my husband, the baby’s father.”

Oops.

4. The Sad

Now I am post-residency, newly employed in a group practice that maintains weekend hours at a different clinic site. During my first Saturday shift in the unfamiliar exam rooms, I repeatedly open and shut drawers, hoping to find what I need—tongue blades, strep swabs, alcohol pads.

Later on, after removing staples from a child’s scalp laceration as part of his ER follow-up, I am relieved the simple procedure went smoothly. No bleeding, no discomfort, no crying. And the wound is healing well. But just to be safe, I’ll cover the site with antibacterial ointment.

Once again floundering in the drawers for the desired object, I finally spot a small packet of Bacitracin and pull it out. While I discuss with the family wound-care instructions, I apply the ointment. Once finished, I pat the child on the back and wave the family on their way.

As I turn back to the examination table to clean up my mess, the label on the empty packet of ointment catches my eye. I pause. I suck in a breath.

I have just applied a liberal coating of KY Jelly to my patient’s head.

Oh, yeah, that will keep the infection away.

Lubricating jelly…Bacitracin…Eh, what’s the diff? (Image credit: tigermedical.com)

All images from Microsoft Clip Art unless otherwise indicated

140 Responses to “Tell Me That Didn’t Happen”

  1. Anastasia

    It’s funny when a patient farts when being adjusted. It’s horrifying when the lady doctor does it. (shame face)

    Like

  2. Martha Merrill Wills

    The fact that you could handle a child’s lacerated scalp without passing out (as I would) means you are forgiven for it all! Loved this post!

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      Oh, good! I’m glad all is forgiven. And the best part is, the family was never the wiser to the fact that I lubricated their son’s head rather than anti-bacterial-ed it.
      😉

      Like

  3. Arizona girl

    What’s funny about me is that I often take a really long time to think about what I want to say. So long that sometimes it becomes a moot point. If this happens often enough, I actually dare to say something after a much shorter-than-usual period of contemplation. Sometimes it goes well and I pat myself on the back; sometimes I curse myself for not taking the usual safe route. Good thing – I think I’m either learning to contemplate faster or to not give as big of a crap…

    Sounds like you’ve got a few interesting stories from your past life!

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      Ah, yes, all those great comments and comebacks that occur to us hours after we needed them. But you’re wise to be cautious. Words can’t be taken back, so if we keep something cringe-worthy from flying out, that is a good thing. Wish I would have applied that to “Grandpa.”
      :)

      Like

  4. butimbeautiful

    Very amusing and superbly written, as always Carrie! Nah, I don’t say rude things to my doctor, it’s like saying it to the waiter, they spit in your soup.

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      Thank you, Rose. And you raise a good point. Telling your doc he smells might just land you a rubber glove, lubricating jelly, and an orifice exam you hadn’t planned on…

      By the way, I LOVED your fan fiction piece. So glad I stumbled upon it (WordPress doesn’t give a pingback unless there’s a link to a particular blog post, not the main blog URL itself). I’ll be linking to it in my new post this morning. You are two kind!

      Like

  5. Love & Lunchmeat

    I have never told a doctor that they smell. My children say embarrassing things all the time, but fortunately they haven’t said that one…

    I knew it was going to be KY jelly! Why is it that whenever you go looking for medical supplies, sterile packets of KY jelly are all you can find? Honestly, I have this problem at my own house! Regardless of what I’m looking for, they are the only thing I can find!

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      Well, as long as you don’t make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich out of them, you should be fine.
      😉

      Thanks for the comment.
      :)

      Like

  6. jeandayfriday

    I laughed out loud throughout the post! I have actually said something similar to your father of the baby story. I had a student come in for conferences with a younger woman and an older woman. They were all introduced to me with the same last name. I assumed (first problem) that the younger woman was his mother. I turned to the student at one point and said, “You could even have your grandmother help you by reading with you.” The older woman spoke up and said, “He hasn’t had a grandmother for over 10 years. I am his mom and I will help him.” To this day I don’t know if she understood that I was thinking she was the grandma. Still, I felt horrible all the same.

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      Thank you! I appreciate the nod. You’re the second blogger who’s given me that award, so I guess I should get busy and put together a blog post. I have a bad habit of leaving these award things until the last minute.
      :)

      Like

  7. Pat

    I talk too much.
    In chatty mode, stupidly asked when the baby was due and of course the woman was not pregnant. Not fat, you understand, slim legs, ankles, face, everywhere else, just very well developed in the abdominal area. Round in fact.
    Now, unless I know absolutely definitely someone is very pregnant and due to give birth within the next 48 hours I would never ever mention it.

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      I’ve learned that the hard way, too. It only took one slip-up for me to learn to bite my tongue in these matters.
      :)

      Thanks for the comment, Pat.
      :)

      Like

  8. whiteladyinthehood

    Oh, how I laughed at this post! Sooo, funny. I make blunders quite often.
    I was reading out loud to a 5th grade Science class one time and tripped up on the word organism and pronounced it orgasim…they were laughing so hard it took me a minute to comprehend what I had said…I was SO embarrassed! I finally, said, “Stop laughing! You people should not even know what that word means!”
    I never told my doctor he stunk…but I can remember being a shy 18 yr old in for a check-up and sheepishly asking him a vague question about birth control…he informed me, since I was not married, there was no need to have that as a concern! Wow, things have changed!

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      First off, the ‘orgasm’ thing? So funny, and so likely to happen to me, too. Kids will call you out every time.

      Second off, that response by your doctor makes me huff and puff a bit, because sadly, there are probably still some with that mindset around.

      Thanks for commenting!

      Like

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