Monday, March 12, 2007

Beware--gross-out story!

Too gross for words?
This story is inspired by Debo Blu’s last Thursday Thirteen. She gave a very funny list and one point was describing how a woman having a gynecologic exam is not in the mood to discuss the weather with her physician. Please go to her site if you need a laugh.
I am only going to tell you my second most gross medical story. The grossest is much worse. Don’t read any further if you have a weak stomach or heart.
To orient you first I have to explain how the emergency room rotation at a teaching hospital works. There is the usual hierarchy of attending (senior) physician, senior resident, junior resident (intern), and medical student. As everywhere the med student gets the scut (medical jargon for undesirable duties). In an ER frequented by low income individuals who don’t have regular health care, many people come to the ER for minor problems—the pediatric ER may be full of head-colds and ear-aches; the adult ER is full of minor gynecologic complaints.
The only time in my career to date (and hopefully never to happen again) that I was stuck with a bloody needle was while attempting to sew up a minor knife wound on the hand of a very drunk man. His hand was bloody and therefore slippery and he was too drunk to sit still. I was too green to be a good seamstress. Hence, the needle wound up in my hand. Fortunately I didn’t get AIDS or Hepatitis. Since I was pregnant when I got the stick, I was quite scared until the results came back.
But this isn’t the gross story. Take a deep breath, here goes. So as the bottom of the totem pole, we med students didn’t get to do any fancy stitching (incompetent stitches leave scars), intubations, or last ditch life-saving efforts. We got to do the gynecologic exams on the women who came in with mysterious discharges from “down there”. I learned to live with this job. After all, I wasn’t likely to kill anyone and could test for yeast with the best of them. It was at this part of my medical career that I learned that it is hard to get Chlamydia off a toilet seat (aren’t you relieved?).
Well, one day I was the med student (AKA scut monkey) of the hour and was assigned the pelvic exam on a woman being screened for a sexually transmitted disease. Apparently she wasn’t all too happy with my technique because at one point she tightened up certain muscles and managed to squeeze out the speculum. Sadly for me, it landed, plop, right in my lap. I can’t tell you how fast I changed scrubs.
Maybe that is what scared me away from gynecology (not really). I simply felt like I had an affinity for psychiatry when I chose it. I did at various points consider Neurology, Cardiology and Pediatrics. When you go into psychiatry, everyone, including one’s closest relatives tells you that you are crazy. My mother-in-law took up telling stupid psychiatry jokes. The chairman of Internal Medicine told me I was wasting my talents. My grandmother’s response was: “Why don’t you go into some real useful specialty like, say, gynecology?” Being a polite young woman, I didn’t say to her “What are you nuts?” But I thought it. Loudly.
Actually my grossest story is about a psychiatric patient in a different ER. But I won’t tell you that one. It isn’t printable.


Kathe said...

One word: EEEEWWWWWWWW!!!!

Snail said...

And you reckon the slugs are gross?!

I'm not sure whether I'm glad that I had dinner before I read that story!

Attila The Mom said...

Hehehe. Now I was expecting something really really gross! Something poopy maybe. ;-)