Remember that show, “Kids Say The Darndest Things”?
I do. I loved the show when I was a kid.
Well, I think we should make another one… “People In Medicine Say the Darndest Things.”
Because we say some really stupid and funny things on a day to day basis that really don’t make a whole lot of sense when you think about it.
On a regular basis, we ask people invasive questions that are socially unacceptable to ask people we just meet. It is part of the job. But, when you think about it, it is odd. On the same note, we make people disrobe, poke them in all kinds of strange places and speak in a latin-english mix throwing in random people’s names throughout. It is almost like physicians, were in not for the job and training, they would be the craziest people in town.
Many physicians live in another time zone in their head. They are late even when things seem slow. And yes, they are very busy, but yes, some people do just need to invest in a watch. It is like they fall into a strange time suck unbenounced to others around. Some are oblivious to this. They are the funniest ones to watch apologize or fail to apologize (not that I at all condone lateness… This habit is one of my biggest pet peeves).
This is one of the few professions where you can basically wear the comfiest and ugliest clothing to work (OR scrubs) complete with a strange hat and booties and people will think you are awesome. I hate OR scrubs… In case you didn’t pick up on that. I can’t explain it. Something about ill fitting clothing worn by a million other people.
Then, take descriptions of disease presentations…. Red currant jelly stools intussusception (when the bowel twists around itself). Then, there are blueberry muffin babies. Kids that look disturbingly like blueberry muffins because they have extramedullary hematopoiesis (they are making blood in places other than bone marrow (like spots under their skin). This is not a good thing. It is a sign of nasty things like Rubella, CMV and a childhood cancer called neuroblastoma.
We had a patient come in today with a very large base of tongue tumor. Their voice is muffled and kind of altered as a result. The doctor says to me while in the room with the patient that he has a “hot potato voice.” This means he sounds like he is talking with a mouthful of hot potato, appropriately enough. Often this is used to describe a presentation of peritonsillar abscess. Needless to say the patient and his wife thought this was a bit odd, using such a term for a voice change. So, I explained and then they thought this was quite entertaining (after they realized we weren’t being derogatory in some way).
Then, like food, we use the term expired. I shouldn’t say we. I refuse to say it, or write it. But that is what the computer system says. When someone dies, it doesn’t say “deceased” or “died on x date.” Nope. Expired. Kind of like a carton of milk. Almost as if to say we have expiration dates (I suppose we do, but really, it seems odd to say someone expired when we have other less cold words to say… Its not quite like we throw them out when they expire).
Weird things. Unusual people. A strange fixation on food. Stuff that medical people do and say is just plain odd. But, it is part of the job or lifestyle or culture or a bit of all of them. Taking a step back makes me think about how funny little snippets of days in a hospital can be.