Allow Me To Illustrate The Point

, , , , , | Healthy | February 1, 2018

I work as a medical illustrator, drawing injuries and surgeries for legal purposes — used as courtroom exhibits, mediation materials, etc. Most of the time, the cases that cross my desk are the same run-of-the-mill kinds over and over, but every once in a while, we get very interesting and challenging cases to illustrate.

My most memorable case involved a man with a tumor that had grown in almost the exact middle of his head, sort of at the very back of his throat, near the base of his skull. It had grown monstrously and required a surgery to remove it to improve quality of life. But the only way to get to it required some extreme measures, and I’ll never forget the surgeon’s notes in which he described the procedure. This is a bit gruesome, if you’re squeamish.

It required lifting away the bottom of the face from the skull and cutting the mandible — jaw bone — down the middle, then prying the jaw apart to either side. While the surgeon provided no sketches to help me visualize this, he made it clear enough when he mentioned it was commonly known as “the Predator cut.”

They also then removed half the jawbone. It was surprising to learn how they reconstruct the face afterwards; they simply carve up segments from your fibula — the small bone in your lower leg — and make a new L-shaped jaw out of it!

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Dinner Before Derriere

, , , , , , | Healthy | January 31, 2018

(It’s my very first appointment with a GYN Oncologist, and he has to examine my tumor, which has grown in the space “between the playground and the sewer.” There is a female nurse attending who is slightly older than both the doctor and me.)

Doctor: “Unfortunately, [My Name], I’m going to have to do a rectal exam, also.”

Me: *resigned to it, but salty* “Whoa! On the first date, even!”

Older Nurse: *totally taken aback* “But this is a safe date! This is for your health and well-being!” *several more comments indicating that she’s horrified at what I said*

Doctor: *never missing a beat* “Yeah, but I didn’t even buy her dinner!”

(Gotta love a doctor with a sense of humour!)

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Clean Up Your Act

, , , , | Healthy | January 31, 2018

(I work as a housekeeper at a hospital. The job is hard, but I get paid fairly well. The hardest part is dealing with patients and visitors who don’t realize how important my job really is. I’m mopping the main lobby. A group of visitors leaving the hospital are coming. I just mopped the floors, and they track dirt and grease all over the floor, dropping food as they pass, as well. I get a new mop, slightly irritated, I’ll admit. Then, I hear the mom lean down to her daughter and say:)

Visitor: “Stay in school, or you’ll end up like him!”

(I’ve had a hard day, and just hearing that makes me lose it. I go over, tap the woman on a shoulder, and say:)

Me: “Ma’am, were you visiting a patient here today?”

Visitor: “Uh, yeah… [room number]. Why?”

Me: “You realize a lowlife housekeeper like me cleaned that room, right? That room previously had a very sick person staying in it, and a housekeeper bleached the walls, bed, toilet, everything, to keep you safe from getting what the last patient had.”

(She goes to open up her mouth, but I don’t let her say anything.)

Me: “I’m working this job while I work on getting my associate’s in nursing, which I’m only three months away from. I eventually want to become a doctor. I took this job to get my foot in the door for my future. My parents don’t have money to get me through school, and the scholarships I received aren’t enough to cover $4000 a semester. So, unless you are already saving for her to go to school, or are made of money, she will likely end up with a low-end job for a couple of years. I get the same benefits as any medical staff, I make $12 an hour, and, other than dealing with people like you, my job is nice.”

(By this point her jaw has dropped and her daughter is giggling next to her.)

Visitor: “I’m sorry; I didn’t realize—”

Me: “You shouldn’t have said something like that. ‘If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all.’ My mom taught me that when I was five. Probably best for you to learn it, too.”

(The mother scurries out of the door with her head hanging low. My supervisor has seen the whole exchange, so I think I will get in trouble. He laughs and says:)

Supervisor: “I’ve wanted to say that to people like that forever! I’m just glad I got to witness such a historic moment!”

(Housekeepers are not scum or low-lives, and we are not stupid. Most of us have joined as housekeepers to make it easier to climb up the career ladder. Think about that the next time you say something rude like that.)

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That’s Where We Put The Bad Patients

, , , , | Healthy | January 30, 2018

(It is a busy Monday with patients eager to get scanning done after the weekend, walk-ins, and appointments. I am working as fast and as politely as I can. There is a bit of pressure since our site manager is on holiday and our second was just promoted to head office. I have inadvertently become the senior receptionist.)

Coworker: “I have to find the keys to the mur…

(I can’t hear what he’s saying because of the phone ringing and a patient in front of me giving me details necessary for the booking. He does a lap around the department.)

Coworker: “He’s supposed to have left keys for the mur mur rum...”

(I don’t catch the end of it, again, needing to pick up a call on hold that’s been waiting for seven minutes. He runs around again. I blaze through more people, finally finish all calls, and get to the last lady in the queue.)

Coworker: “Okay, so, we get the keys from upstairs in General. It’s all good. They got into the murder room.”

(I stop what I’m doing and stare at him, absolutely sure I heard it right, but shocked if that’s what he said.)

Me: “The murder room?!”

Coworker:Motor room.”

(The patient in front of me starts laughing.)

Patient: “I wouldn’t want to be in one of those!”

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Cause For Actual Pregnant Pause

, , , , , | Healthy | January 30, 2018

(I am a doctor at a local clinic. I read the file for my next patient, a 21-year-old woman, complaining about stomach cramps, sickness, and “private” concerns. People are often shy and refuse to share their symptoms with the nurse. I go into the room and start talking to the patient.)

Me: “Hello, I am Dr. [My Name]. What seems to be the problem?”

Patient: “I keep getting stomach cramps, and I threw up this morning. It was really gross… and, um… ah…”

(The patient is acting uncomfortable.)

Patient: “I haven’t had my period in three months! It’s always been irregular, but I haven’t ever gone this long! I must be really sick! Please help me.”

(Utilizing my $50,000 education and 14 years of experience, I make the first suggestion that comes to mind.)

Me: “Is there any chance that you might be pregnant?”

(The patient looks disgusted by this.)

Patient: “Oh, so, if a woman is sick it means that she must be pregnant. No, she can’t be dying or anything; she must be a slut. You men are all the same!”

Me: “Ma’am, it is just procedure. I have to check things off the list to find out what is wrong. Can you please answer my question?”

Patient: “No. I want a woman doctor. Get me your woman doctor or I am leaving!”

Me: “There are only me and three male PAs.”

Patient: “Humph!”

(The patient walked out of the examination room and out of the office, complaining of sexism and “unprofessional behavior” to everybody in the waiting room. Six months later, I got another patient file for a woman wanting a prenatal exam. Now, guess who it could possibly be? The lesson here is that there are a lot of things that share symptoms with pregnancy, but pregnancy is FAR more common than most of them. When a doctor asks you if you are pregnant, it is not an accusation; it is an important diagnostic tool.)

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