Laughter is the best medicine. Convenient since medicine has given me the best laughter.
As a pediatrician, there are lots of funny stories I could share. But I hesitate to do so, not wanting to straddle the lines of decorum and confidentiality. Then again, the joke’s usually on me, because I’ve done more dumb things than my patients (Tell Me that Didn’t Happen).
But I decided if I traveled back far enough, a tale or three couldn’t hurt. Back when I was a measly medical student. No one would remember my name and—if the gods are smiling—no one would remember my bad perm and Laura Ashley dress.
So here goes…
1. This Is Not the Time Nor Place for Your Tiger
As a fourth-year medical student, I did an elective in dermatology. One day, a man came in with a lesion on his penis. No, that is not the funny part. To doctors, your privates are just like any other body area.
The funny part was when the dermatologist asked the man to drop his drawers so we could have a looksie. Before we knew it, the tiniest, leopard-print bikini briefs pounced out to greet us. Not to mention an ill-contained, hairy jungle.
The elderly dermatologist gave me an inconspicuous eye roll. I suspect his retirement soon followed.
One would think a trip to the dermatologist for a penile lesion would prompt more conservative attire.
One would be wrong.
2. The Time I Was Handed A Turd
Gastroenteritis is an infection in the gut. The usual symptoms are vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.
One day, a woman came into the clinic with abdominal pain. No vomiting. No diarrhea.
But that didn’t stop her from bringing in a stool sample.
Before I knew it, I clutched a turd in a Tupperware. A fully formed turd. A turd that did not scream gastroenteritis.
Ever the maintainer of professional demeanor, I smiled, took her airtight turd, and told her the doctor would be in to see her.
When all else fails, pass the crap to your preceptor. But don’t forget to burp it.
3. It Only Happens When I Do This
During a third-year rotation in ENT medicine (ear, nose, and throat), I passed a happy month with the cool, New York bred Dr. J.
One day, a guy came into the clinic with a chief complaint of nosebleeds. After getting a history from the man, I left the room to present the case to Dr. J.
When my preceptor asked what triggered the nosebleeds, I eyed the floor and shuffled my feet. Indeed, I hadn’t thought to ask.
But Dr. J was cool, so he just called me “Idiot” and we entered the room together. After brief small talk, Dr. J asked the man, “What are you doing when the nosebleed starts?”
“Well, it only happens when I scratch the area.”
Dr. J paused. “So, you only get a nosebleed when you pick your nose?”
“Um…yeah, I guess so.”
“Then stop picking your nose.”
Easiest diagnosis. Simplest treatment.
Do you have any fashion embarrassments? What’s the weirdest thing you’ve stored in Tupperware? Do you pick your…on second thought, don’t answer that.
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