The Lighter Side of Medicine




With healthcare being the stressful and serious environment it is, sometimes we can lose the lighter side of medicine. I wanted to share a few funny stories that have arisen from my training, in hopes that other professionals can get a chuckle, and share their own tales.

1. When I was a medical student rotating at Moss Rehab in Philadelphia, we had a long term patient who had been there for over a year. He was a happily demented gentleman, but he suffered from psoriasis on the backs of his arms and fronts of his knees which were very bothersome. We saw him on rounds, and he inquired about something to help out his condition. We told him we would prescribe some cream for him to use. The gentleman asked how often he would need to apply it, and our attending said, “Be sure to use it religiously.” Because he was a long term patient we only checked on him every couple of weeks to make sure everything was OK. So two weeks later when we came to follow-up, we noticed right away that his psoriasis had gotten much worse, and asked him what happened. The man said, “I don’t know, doc, I’ve been using that cream you gave me but it isn’t helping.” Our attending asked, “Have you been using it religiously?” to which the patient promptly replied, “Oh, yes! I put it on every Sunday!”

Emergency Room2. At a different hospital, I was doing my Emergency Medicine rotation. When you work in the emergency room you get used to seeing unusual things, but every now and then something comes along that truly turns your head. I was sitting at the nurses station on my first day, when one of the ER nurses walked by with a portable urinal filled with dark yellowish-brown liquid. In my mind, I thought, “Whoever filled that urinal must be pretty sick.” Then to my shock and horror, the ER nurse proceeded to bring the urinal up to her lips and take a big swig of the liquid! I was in complete disbelief of what I had just witnessed, and felt a little queasy. One of the other nurses must have seen the look of disgust on my face, because she came up to me and said, “Don’t mind Mary. For years now, the first thing she does when she arrives on shift is get one of those urinals from central supply, and mix up some iced tea for her shift. She thinks they make a good thermos because of the handle.”

3. This last one will only make sense to medical professionals, so I apologize in advance. When I was a trauma intern, it was my job to do the initial trauma survey on all new trauma patients that came in. The survey is a very loud and chaotic process, with people shouting and a lot of activity, clothes being cut off, and patients being manhandled by several people. One day we got word that one of the pulmonologists from our hospital fell off a ladder while working at home, and was being brought in by ambulance as a trauma. The trauma team was on their top game because we were going to be assessing one of our colleagues, so the room got noisy even before the doctor got wheeled into the trauma bay. When he arrived there was a lot of commotion as usual, but above it all we could hear the patient yelling at the top of his lungs, “No foley, no guiac! No foley, no guiac! No foley, no guiac!” Within a few seconds the whole trauma team was roaring with laughter.

I hope my stories were able to brighten your day, and I would love to hear some of your stories, as well! We need to remember and share the lighter side of medicine if we ever hope to maintain our sanity.

Sajid Surve, DO

Sajid Surve, DO, is a physiatrist, acupuncturist, and osteopath who specializes in musculoskeletal medicine and integrative medicine.
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