Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Heard Around The Hospital: A Sign of the Times

In the middle of a busy Monday clinic:

"And how can I help you and your little boy today, madam?"

"Doctor, I've come with a nagging question about his developmental milestones. I've tried asking around but no one seems to know. Even my parents said they didn't use to worry about all this stuff while raising me."

"Have you checked the Personal Child Health Record?  A lot of the milestones are in there--"

"No no, it's not about when he'll walk or talk. That's all boring stuff. This is worse. I haven't been able to find answers anywhere."

"Worse? Oh dear. What are you concerned about?"

The mother leans in close and drops her voice.

"What age do I allow him to use an iPad?"

Monday, April 25, 2016

Heard Around The Hospital: Ask Siri

"Boss, that was amazing. How did you figure out that patient had an embolus? That was a really hard call to make. He's alive because of you."

"Well, sometimes in life, you have to make the hard decisions. You just learn to go for it."

"I see. How did you decide on this case though?"

"Oh, this time I just asked Siri."

Monday, April 18, 2016

Heard Around The Hospital: A Blood-y Joke

We've all had them - patients who come in for a low blood count (low haemoglobin), get blood transfused intravenously into their bodies, and then the next day the phlebotomist shows up to measure their new blood count:

Phlebotomist: I'm going to need to take your blood again today.

Patient: But...but I just got some blood yesterday.

Phlebotomist: Well, you didn't think you'd get to keep it, did you?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

A Mother's Last Lesson

It is past midnight on the ward. The silence is punctuated by the occasional beeping of infusion pumps and the soft sobbing of relatives. I have just signed the death certificate of an elderly lady.

I offer my condolences to her eldest son and walk away. As I fiddle with paperwork at the nearby counter, I hear the youngest son's voice, cracked and hoarse from crying.

"I can't believe she's gone."

"I know." The eldest brother's voice, also hoarse. "She's at peace now."

"I-- I should have spent more time with her--"

"She loved you. She didn't blame you. Ever."

"She was my whole world. I just liked to pretend she wasn't--"

"She knew. Always."

The younger brother lowers his head and sobs silently into his arm. I try to focus on signing tags. A few seconds pass. I hear the younger son's voice again.

"I...I don't know how to go on."

"We must."

"Easy for you to say. How do I-- how do I live-- " His voice cracks.

"Because we are her sons. And that is how she raised us." The eldest son straightened up. "If she didn't teach us to be strong enough to live without her - she would have failed as a mother."

The eldest son reaches out and squeezes his brother's arm gently.

"Yes. Okay." The younger son wipes his eyes.

I gather up my paperwork and leave the counter. As I walk away, I hear the younger brother's voice one last time.

"Thank you, brother."

"Thank her." The eldest son's voice sounded steely now. "For making us strong."

Monday, April 11, 2016

Heard Around The Hospital: Starbucks

In the middle of a long line at the hospital Starbucks:

"Where's the house officer? Why isn't he taking our orders?"

"He got called up to the ward for a code blue, boss."

"Code blue? Before my morning Starbucks? How rude!"

Monday, April 04, 2016

Heard Around The Hospital: April Fool

In the middle of clinic on April 1st:

"And how are you feeling today, sir?"

"Doctor, I feel terrible. I've been really depressed lately. In fact, I think...I think I may shoot myself."

"What! That's terrible. How long have you been feeling like this?"

"APRIL FOOL! Bahahaha no, I'm feeling fine. I just came to get some flu meds."

Sometimes I think I may shoot myself.

Photo credit.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Heard Around The Hospital: Marriage

"Doctor, I think I'm depressed."

"I'm sorry to hear that. Any idea why?

"Yes! My son's just told me he doesn't want to get married."

"Oh. Well it's common to feel a bit down due to family disagreements. Shall I arrange for you to see a counsellor?"

"Me?! I don't need a counsellor. My son needs a counsellor!"


"Because he doesn't want to get married! He's obviously crazy. Who wouldn't want to get married?!"

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Heard Around The Hospital: Solar Eclipse

Overheard in a busy clinic:

Patient: Doctor, my friend burned his eye staring directly at the solar eclipse. Should I ask him to come see you?

Doctor: No. There is no treatment for solar retinopathy (sun damage to the retina --Editor).

Patient: Why?

Doctor: Because there's no treatment for stupidity.


Thursday, February 25, 2016

How To Start Blogging Again (For The Twenty-Second Time)

Hey kids! Can you guess which partly-famous ridiculously attractive blogger has tried to restart his blog more times than Donald Trump has insulted people while trying to become President? (Okay actually, I think Trump might have beat me on that one. The New York Times has compiled a list of 199 things Trump has insulted, including Great Britain, a Neil Young song, and a podium in the White House. --Ed.)

In all seriousness though. I've tried to restart the blog a few times since I started blogging less. This blog is actually ten years old this year* and used to be quite popular, even earning me a writing gig in The Guardian at one point. But as I explained in an earlier post, I stopped writing about trying to become a doctor - because I actually became a doctor.

Despite six years of medical school, it completely overwhelmed me. It was a complete shock to my system. Like Jeb Bush's presidential campaign, I struggled to find purpose and eventually surrendered, being content to just exist from day to day with no greater goal than to survive until the next morning. I'm not ashamed to say, I lost track of a lot more things in my life than just this blog, and I'm still paying the price to this day.

My sister, a wiser doctor than I, gave me one very good piece of advice during this tumult. "You have to force yourself to function," she told me before I started my junior doctor job. "Give yourself two months to get used to any posting, then force yourself to function like a normal human being. Go out. Meet friends. Watch movies. Don't let let it overwhelm you."

Wise words - but it took me years to learn them. And so here I am. Like Kanye West's bank account, my readership has dwindled to almost nothing, but I feel the itch to write again. 

Let's try this again, shall we?

*My first two thoughts on realising this:
1. Yay ten years!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Heard Around The Hospital: Demented Wisdom

In the middle of a busy night call:
Me: Madam, why have you come to hospital?
Demented Patient: I...I don't know. Do you know why I'm here?
Me: I don't know either.
Patient: Well since we both don't know what we're doing here, why don't we both leave?
Me: That's the best idea I've heard all night.

Sometimes demented patients make the most sense.