Doctors, nurses, and staying healthy

“What The F***?” Is Right!

, , , , , | Healthy | March 17, 2021

I work for the billing department of a medical supply company. One day, my coworker and I return from lunch to find a voicemail on the answering service. [Coworker] has been with us just a few weeks at this time.

Message: “Hello, this is [Woman].” 

She coughs a few times. My coworker rolls her eyes.

Coworker: “This lady.”

Message: “I’m calling because, um, my oxygen concentrator seems to be malfunctioning.” *More coughing* “There’s a red light on and I don’t know what it means. My number is [phone number]. Please call me back as soon as possible. Thank you.”

Coworker: “Jesus.”

She deletes the message.

Me: “What are you doing? She needs help.”

Coworker: “It’s not our job to get that s*** worked out. She called yesterday, too, but I told her she has to call the supplies department, not billing.”

I stare at her, dumbfounded and angry.

Me: “Are you seriously telling me that a woman has called twice to say she needs help and you ignored her?”

Coworker: “She needs the supply department, not us.”

Me: “You— I— I— What the f***, [Coworker]? That’s not okay.”

Coworker: “Whatever.”

I immediately called the supply department and told them the woman’s name, though I couldn’t remember her number. Then, I called human resources — with [Coworker] right beside me — and told them what she had done. As soon as I hung up, she received a phone call, got up, and left the room. She did not come back.


This story is part of our Best Of March 2021 roundup!

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Scars Just Mean It Didn’t Kill Ya!

, , , , | Healthy | March 16, 2021

I was born breech but was delivered naturally. The obstetrician had to use forceps at the end to get my head out, and it obviously left injuries on my face.

Shortly after my birth, my mum is meeting some friends who are seeing me for the first time. One sees the wounds from the forceps.

Friend: “Are you going to sue the doctor?”

Mum: “What? No! Why would I?”

Friend: “He’s scarred your daughter! Look at her!”

Mum: “[My Name] was born perfectly fine thanks to [Obstetrician]’s knowledge and skills. She was breech. Do you have any idea how dangerous that can be? Scars are the least of my worries!”

I still have the scars from the forceps nearly thirty years later. They don’t bother me at all.

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Specializing In Being Sus AF

, , , , , | Healthy | March 15, 2021

My primary care physician finds some dangerous anomalies in some routine blood work and refers me to a specialist. I call the specialist’s office to make an appointment and I run into an obstacle.

Receptionist: “Before the doctor can see you, you will need to get your records from your former visit.”

I suddenly remember that I saw this same doctor five years ago for something similar.

Me: “You don’t have the records?”

Receptionist: “We moved buildings and changed our name, so no.”

Me: “Why can’t you use the records on file from my primary physician?”

Receptionist: “We need our former records.”

Me: “And you don’t have them.”

Receptionist: “No. We moved buildings.”

Me: “…”

Receptionist: “Call this number and get your records or the doctor can’t move on with treatment.”

I am frustrated by this, as my health issue is potentially life-threatening and I just want to get started in treatment, but I hang up and call the number. The call leads me to a badly recorded message that’s just some guy saying that if I want records I have to mail twenty-five dollars and a signed note to a PO box. I hang up on that mess, call the specialist’s office back, and speak to the same receptionist.

Me: “That was a weird message asking for money. I won’t be doing that. I can get you the records of my treatment from my doctor. It was only a one-year course of [medication] five years ago. Nothing else.”

Receptionist: “Nothing else?”

Me: “One medication. That was all.”

Receptionist: “Well, you have a week before your appointment. Just get those records or the doctor can’t treat you.”

She hung up on me. Maybe this is common practice for a medical office that has changed buildings, but it seems way too shady to me. I called my PCP and got a referral to a different specialist.

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Did… Did It Work?

, , , , , | Healthy | March 14, 2021

This is a story my colleague told me about his uncle. His uncle is rather superstitious and believes in a lot of weird things. When he tests positive for a certain rapidly spreading illness, his first reaction is to go to a bomoh — Malaysian witch-doctor — for an exorcism. For various reasons, my colleague is stuck accompanying his uncle to the bomoh.

Bomoh: “Okay, I can exorcise you. Hold still, please.”

Uncle: “Okay.”

Bomoh: “Begone, evil spirits!”

He pulls out a toy laser gun and points it at [Uncle]’s head.

Bomoh: “All-laaah!”

Typing this out does not give it justice. The way my colleague repeated it, it sounded like a mix of singsong, bombastic, and high.

He pulls the trigger and the gun lights up.

Bomoh: “Fire, fire, fire! Pew, pew, pew! Fire, fire, fire!”

My colleague’s jaw drops, [Uncle]’s jaw drops, and they sit there, stunned.

Bomoh: “Not enough? Okay. Duaaal wieeld!”

He says that last bit the same way he said, “Allah!” previously.

He pulls out another toy gun and fires it at [Uncle].

My colleague didn’t tell me what happens next, but when the exorcism is over…

Uncle: “Uh, maybe we should go to the hospital.”

Colleague: “You think?”

Once he finished his quarantine, my colleague returned to work and told me all about it.

Colleague: “Like, the man was hip. I didn’t think that bomohs were so advanced these days.”

Me: “He sounded like he was high on something.”

Colleague: “Oh, he probably was. But that was just silly, man.”

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Alas, Poor Howard! A Fellow Of Infinite Thrift!

, , | Healthy | March 13, 2021

On a break between classes, I decide to browse through a thrift store up the street. It’s shortly before Halloween, so there’s the usual assortment of worse-for-the-wear stuffed witches and sequined black cats… and then, between a bag of fake cobwebs and a dented plastic jack-o’-lantern, I find a human skull. A real one.

It’s been prepped for anatomy classes, with the jaw hinged and all the cranial sutures labeled, so my guess is that someone just assumed it was another Halloween decoration without bothering to look any closer. I immediately grab it; I’m a medical student with a deep sense of the macabre, and I’d love nothing more than to have a human skull to put in my office someday. Now, the question is whether it’s legal for me to have it and whether bringing a skull home would bother my boyfriend.

Five minutes of frantic Googling informs me that it’s perfectly legal for a private citizen to own human body parts in my state, but it’s illegal to sell them without a license. Given that the skull is in with the Halloween decorations and already showing a few cracks from rough handling, I decide that’s a risk I’ll run, and I text my boyfriend.

Me: “I found a human skull in a thrift store. It’s $4. I’m pretty sure they thought it was a Halloween prop.”

Boyfriend: “Did you just stumble into a murder mystery? I don’t want to have to rescue you from mysterious kidnappers.”

Me: “No, it looks like an anatomy class skull, so it probably wasn’t a murder victim. Would it bother you if I bought it?”

Boyfriend: “As long as it’s not murder evidence, go for it. That used to be really important to someone; it seems wrong for it to be sitting on a shelf for $4.”

Having gotten the okay from my boyfriend, I grab a cheap towel to cushion the skull and finish looking through the store. There’s a huge stack of outdated dentistry books from the 1960s and a few gummy, faded classroom models of teeth and jaws one shelf over, so my guess is that the skull used to belong to a retired dentist and was donated and put up for sale without anyone noticing it was real. As soon as I get back to campus, I take it to one of my professors. He confirms that, yep, it’s real, and tells me that based on the facial structure and the way it’s been prepped, it’s probably a male from the 1940s. My professor also points out a couple of signs of disease-related bone damage and asks if he can borrow the skull during the class unit on tuberculosis.

My boyfriend and I have named the skull Howard. He lives on our mantlepiece and visits the class with me once a semester. I do not regret buying him.


This story is part of our Best Of March 2021 roundup!

Read the next Best Of March 2021 roundup story!

Read the Best Of March 2021 roundup!

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