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Doctors, nurses, and staying healthy

No Cuts — With One Exception (Or Maybe Two)

, , , , , , | Healthy | December 2, 2022

I work at a pharmacy. Due to assorted unexpected issues, we were struggling to work as fast as we usually did and had a large line backed up waiting. Thankfully, everyone was being fairly understanding about the delay.

One man, in particular, seemed completely indifferent to the wait, reading something on his phone and seeming completely relaxed as he waited. At least he did, until he suddenly gave an unexpected gasp, typed something on his phone real fast, then looked up with clear excitement and impatience, eyeing the door as if he planned to run out right then.

Me: “Sir, are you okay?”

Man: “Yeah, just… my wife’s labor is early! She’s hours away right now, and I really want to get there in time. If I didn’t need this prescription…”

Customer: “Oh, congratulations! Go ahead in front.”

All the other customers in line made similar offers, allowing him to skip to the front of the line as we rushed to get him his prescription as quickly as possible. He gave everyone a very sincere-sounding thank-you as he practically ran out the door with his prescription.

Sometime later, I saw the man in our line again.

Me: “It’s you again. How did the delivery go? Did you make it in time?”

Man: “Oh, wow! I’m surprised you remember. Yes, I sort of made it, thanks.”

Me: “Sort of?”

Man: “Seems my wife was really impatient to be done with the pregnancy. Not only did she go into labor way early, but she went through the whole labor and birth in record time. She dislocated our daughter’s arm pushing her out so quickly. I got there just a few minutes too late for her birth.”

Me: “Oh, no. I’m sorry about your daughter and your missing it.”

Man: “Oh, it’s all right; she’s fine now. And I did at least make it in time to be there for our son’s birth!”

Here he grinned from ear to ear at me as he held up his phone showing a photo of his newborn twins, complete with the most adorable tiny sling on his daughter’s arm.

Man: “Other than some jaundice, they’re doing great. Please thank everyone that was working that day again for helping me get there in time.”

“Trust Your Gut” Has Never Been So Literal

, , , , | Healthy | November 30, 2022

My mom is a tough cookie with an incredibly high pain tolerance. She’s not one to complain about feeling ill unless it’s really bad. I get up one morning to find she’s not at home. I don’t give much thought to it, thinking she’s running an errand, until she calls me.

Mom: “I’m at the doctor’s. I need you to pick me up and take me to the hospital.”

Trying not to panic, I rush over to our local doctor in my car. When I go in, my mom is lying in their small clinic room, pale, sweating, and vomiting. The doctor explains that she came in complaining of severe abdominal cramps. The doctor offers to call ahead to the hospital so that we don’t have to wait in triage. I get my mom into my car and rush her to the hospital. In my (albeit non-expert) opinion, it sounds like her appendix is about to burst.

I rush into the ER and get them to bring mom in using a wheelchair. She’s getting worse by the minute, and I’m trying not to panic as I fill in her details. I call my dad, but he’s at least two hours away for work. Mom gets seen in triage and admitted.

Once we’re in her room, we’re told we need to wait for the doctor. Mom is still vomiting and in agony. The nurses refuse to give her anything without the doctor.

An hour goes by. Two. Three.

I’m frantic. I know that this is an absolute medical emergency, and there is no urgency being shown. The nurses brush me off when I tell them they need to get a doctor immediately.

Eventually, the doctor arrives, giving some bulls*** excuse. My mother is still dry heaving in pain, so I fill him in and say that I think she has appendicitis. He looks at her with little interest and asks if she ate anything weird. (No, we all ate the same things.)

Doctor: “Could it be an ectopic pregnancy?”

Me: “For God’s sake, she’s menopausal and had a hysterectomy two years ago, which is on her d*** chart! It’s her freaking appendix!”

Mom: “Doc, I’ve had two kids, and this is worse than the pain I felt during labour.”

Doctor: “Hmm… I think you may be being a bit dramatic. I’ll give you something for the vomiting and send you for a scan.”

He leaves. Thirty minutes later, the nurse administers the nausea medication, which has no effect, but at least Mom’s given fluids.

It’s another hour-long wait before they’re ready to do the scan and another forty-five minutes for the results. Mom’s pain is worse when the doctor comes back.

Doctor: “I don’t see anything suspicious on the scan, but seeing how much pain you’re in, I think we’ll have to operate and see what’s going on.”

They prep Mom for surgery and wheel her off. At this point, I collapse with worry. My dad has since arrived, so he and I go home, waiting for the hospital to tell us she’s out of surgery. By 7:00 pm, we get called back.

Mom has done a total 180; her colour is back, the vomiting has stopped, and she’s feeling relief despite having just had major abdominal surgery.

Me: “What was wrong?!”

Mom: “The doctor hasn’t told me yet. Guess we’ll find out.”

The doctor walks in about forty-five minutes later, looking sheepish, to say the least.

Doctor: “Ma’am, it turns out you weren’t overreacting. Your appendix managed to twist itself and had become gangrenous. You literally had a gangrenous bowel. There’s nothing more painful. I’ve never seen anything like it. We actually took pictures to show our colleagues.”

My mom was less than impressed with the doctor who had brushed us off. She was back home the next day. Trust your gut, people.

It’s Breast Not To Make Things Worse

, , , , , , , | Healthy | November 28, 2022

I’m a new mom. My son wouldn’t breastfeed and I asked for help at the hospital. They asked what the problem was and whether there was any milk. I told them countless times that there was plenty of milk; my son just wasn’t capable of getting it out.

They decided that I should pump some to give to him.

Nurse: “Here: you put one cup on each breast and then just let the pump work. Don’t worry if there are only a few drops; we’ll give him a substitute if there isn’t enough. We only need a very small cup of milk for him.”

Me: “Don’t worry; I think it’ll be enough.”

Nurse: “I’ll prepare some substitute, just in case.”

We started the pump. However, the nurse did not show us how to stop it or say how much we should pump. My husband and I saw the bottle filling up, so eventually, my husband went to find the nurse.

She came back with a small cup of substitute milk.

Nurse: “Hello! How is it going?”

Me: “How long should I keep going?”

Nurse: “Oh, well, the more we get out, the better. We’ll give him this in the meantime.”

Me: “We might need a new bottle soon, then.”

Then, she actually looked down to see the milk. Her jaw dropped and her face went pale.

Nurse: “We won’t need this.”

She stopped the pumping and explained that she’d save the milk, in case it was needed later.

My milk production did cause problems. My son learned to drink properly, and he loved it overflowing — even when he was full, he would just drink and then spit the milk out, just to get the taste — so there was no problem there any longer. However, no protection helped against my occasional (more to say constant) flow of extra milk. I ended up walking around with cups on each breast, made to gather up the extra milk, and I had to empty them regularly throughout the day.

We also bought a new sheet for the bed so the milk wouldn’t seep through to the mattress. I ended up sleeping in puddles of milk, even though I had towels to suck it up. I even ended up in the hospital due to milk engorgement.

Me: “There is milk coming out all the time. How can some of it be stuck?”

Doctor: “Unfortunately, it happens. You should try to have your son drink more if possible.”

Me: “I’ve heard it helps to pump milk. Should I get a pump?”

Doctor: “Usually, I would say yes, but it has a tendency to make the production higher, and in your case, high production is what causes the problem.”

Since then, I’ve had countless people tell me I should give away all the milk I gather up, as there are so many who don’t make enough for their babies. At first, I was surprised the doctor hadn’t told me about it, but it became clearer when it turned out that such milk had to be pumped, not just gathered out of health regulations.

I explained this many times, but the typical conversation went like this:

Person: “Why do you have cups on your breasts?”

I’d explain my high milk production.

Person: “You should give it away; there are many less fortunate people who don’t get enough.”

Me: “I can’t. I have to pump it out, and that would cause my production to get even higher. I’ve already ended up in the hospital for it.”

Person: “I still think you should. There are so many who can’t get enough milk; you should help them since you don’t have problems with it.”

Me: “But I have problems. I just have a problem with too much milk, so I can’t risk getting even more.”

Person: “Look, there are many people who can’t get enough! You shouldn’t whine because you get a lot; that is a blessing!”

Even when I explain why it is a problem, they think I’m just whining about having too much, which I should apparently be happy about. They can come back when they’ve tried bathing in milk every night and ended up in the hospital for days with pain, for which the best treatment is a baby painfully sucking from the place that hurts.

There And Back Again: An I Don’t Work Here Tale

, , , , , , , , , , | Healthy | CREDIT: omgdoogface | November 26, 2022

About five years ago, my girlfriend was in the ICU of one of the largest hospitals in Sydney, Australia. It was a stressful time for me, but she’s all good now.

I was walking back from one of the hospital’s cafes to see my girlfriend when I was stopped in the corridor by a lady in her sixties.

Lady: *Politely* “Can you take me to the cardio ward?”

Me: “I don’t work here, but reception is that way, and I’m sure they can help you.”

Her Ladyship did not like this response.

Lady: “Don’t f*** around! I know you work here; take me there!”

Her sudden change in demeanour stunned me.

Lady: “Come along; I don’t have all day!”

I was wearing a full suit and tie combo as I had an unavoidable meeting later that day. Now, I like a navy suit as much as the next suave bloke, but the doctors in this hospital, when not in scrubs, mostly wore slacks and collared shirts.

Given the missus was a bit under the weather, I was sleep deprived, anxious, and had no patience for Her Ladyship being a jerk.

Me: “Okay, follow me.”

We started down the corridor, through some doors, and up a flight of stairs, her pacing grumpily behind me. I could see a sign ahead indicating that the cardio ward was to the right. So, unfortunately for Her Ladyship, left we went.

We went up lifts, down lifts, up stairs, and down again. A full ten minutes into our Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Tour, it must have occurred to her that I had no idea where I was going. A porter with a gurney stepped out of a side door and she immediately accosted him.

Lady: “Your staff member here is wasting my time!”

It was almost comedic the way he looked down at her, up at me, down at her, and then up at me. 

Porter: “Did you tell this lady you work here?”

Me: *Smiling* “No, mate, literally the opposite.”

The porter frowned.

Porter: “Where ya headed, luv?”

By now, she was quite exasperated.

Lady: “What is wrong with you people?! He should have taken me to the cardio ward. And don’t ‘luv’ me!”

The porter, trying to hide his smile, told her to follow him, and off they went. I overheard her grumble something about “staff complaint” as they left. Gosh only knows what my write-up would have said about me.

I hurried back to the ICU ward, happily armed with a humorous story to cheer up my girlfriend.

We’re Just Glad She Isn’t Driving

, , , , , , , | Healthy | November 23, 2022

I work in customer service for a health insurance company that mainly administers benefits for Medicare and Medicaid populations. In my state, members who receive benefits through state Medicaid have access to medical transportation to and from medical appointments. Unless you have a certified disability or other specialized need, that medical transportation normally goes through regular cab companies.

A notable percentage of our Medicaid membership suffers from psychiatric illnesses and other behavioral health challenges, and because of this, getting cursed out and/or threatened is not uncommon. It’s the nature of the beast, and we’re all trained to understand that and not get frazzled or mirror their energies.

My specific job is to take escalated phone calls. This one happened recently.

Me: “Hello there, thank you for holding. How can I help you?”

Insert unhinged screaming, with no discernable words.

Me: “I can hear that you are clearly upset and that something is wrong, but I can’t understand what the exact issue is. Could you repeat yourself?”

There’s more unhinged screaming about seemingly nothing in particular, followed by:

Caller: “You dumb c***, I am former FBI, so GET AWAY FROM ME OR I’LL HAVE YOU ARRESTED!”

Me: “Ma’am, I work from home and can assure you that I am nowhere near you. Could you please fill me in on what the issue is?”

Caller: “I made a hurricane that destroyed the whole world! Do you really want me to do that again?!”

Me: “I certainly don’t, ma’am. I can help you, but I need to know what’s going on.”

Caller: “You’re parked outside my house!”

Me: “Again, ma’am, I am talking to you from home, and I am definitely not parked outside your house.”

Caller: “There’s a [Cab Company] car outside my house!”

Me: “Did you request a medical ride for today?”

There’s a pause before the caller responds in a surprised, chipper voice.

Caller: “Yes! I have to go to the pharmacy today!” *Click*

Yes, ma’am, you go get those meds.