Friday, September 22, 2017

Goodbye, Cyndi Lauper

When I first started practicing, any time a patient would have brain surgery, the surgeon would inevitably shave half their head to do the surgery.

I found this practice ridiculous.  The patient would come out of the surgery looking like Cyndi Lauper at her worst.  I have never witnessed anyone who looked good with half their head shaved. (Including Cyndi.)  I always felt like it then fell to us to deal with the remaining hair.

More recently, the trend has changed.  Instead of shaving the whole head, the surgeon will just shave a teeny area at the incision site.  So instead of rocking Cyndi Lauper, the patient looks pretty normal post-surgery.

From a perspective of compassion for people's vanity, I think this is awesome.  I love it.  It's bad enough you have to have brain surgery without losing all your hair and changing your entire appearance.  So I'm glad about this change.

But from the perspective of the doc who has to monitor these incisions, it's so.  Annoying.  Half the time, I have to do a search for several minutes to find the damn incision.  If it started looking worse, it would be really hard to tell.  And digging staples out that are caked in both dried blood and hair is not a fun task.  Shouldn't we put patient safety above hair?

I'm really torn on it, honestly.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

What day is it?

Me: "What is today's date?"

Patient: "Well, it's the day after yesterday!"

I'm going to have to remember that one for when I'm old and confused.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Pediatrician's Dilemma

A friend of mine who is a pediatrician told me the following story.

He has a patient who is a little girl with some chronic medical issues.  The girl's mother had some legitimate issues with the nursing care that the girl was receiving while hospitalized as an inpatient.  Although this was not the pediatrician's fault, the mother apparently laid into him, screaming at him publicly for a good five minutes.

Of course, the girl is still hospitalized and he's the pediatrician on the inpatient service right now.  So now he has this awkward situation with the patient's mom.  He said that if this girl had been one of his clinic patients and he'd been treated that way, he would have requested she find a new doctor.  But since the girl is hospitalized and probably will be for another week or so, he's stuck.

"I just have to suck it up," he told me.

That's a rough situation though.  Even though the mom screamed at him, she didn't fire him so he's still allowed to see her daughter.  Is there really no alternative to treating a person whose family was verbally abusive to you?

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Back to school

For my soon to be fifth grader, this was the list of supplies she needed for school:

2  binders
4 single subject notebooks (multicolored)
5 folders (different colors to coordinate with notebooks)
Colored pencils
Multicolored pens
Pencils: 2 boxes
1 package eraser tops
2 Glue sticks
1 box of markers
1 box CRAYOLA crayons
Post-it notes
1 Highlighter
1 Box of tissues
1 canister Clorox/Lysol wipes
1 Roll of paper towel

I got it all at CVS for $60, which felt a little ridiculous.  Why SO MUCH stuff?  Especially since I guarantee after one month, all of these things will be lost in the recesses of her bag.  If I ask her for a single pen from her bag in November, she can't find one.

Also, a roll of paper towels??  She really needs to carry an entire roll of paper towels AND a canister of Lysol?  Seriously?  How dirty do they expect things to be getting over there?  

And this is why I have back problems.  Because I spent my entire childhood lugging around THAT.

Friday, August 25, 2017

WTF abbreviations

These are three more abbreviations I saw in a single discharge summary yesterday that I couldn't figure out without google:




I really do think there should be a list of standard abbreviations that are acceptable and everything else should be spelled out.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Woman docs

It seems like I can't book an appointment with a doctor anymore without being asked if I'm okay with seeing a man.

OK, they didn't ask me when I booked an eye doctor appointment.  But when I recently scheduled an urgent care visit for a stomach bug that was taking a long time to clear up, they asked me.  And the OB/GYN office always asks.

Personally, my first pap was done by a man, and I really liked him.  My second regular ob/gyn was also a man and also great.  Yes, I'm a little more uncomfortable being examined down there by a man, but honestly, it's uncomfortable either way.  It depends on the doctor more than it depends on the gender of the doctor.  It's only a recent thing that there are enough female doctors that patients can even get a choice.

What bothers is me is that when they specifically ask me, it makes me feel like maybe I *should* request a woman.  Why can't they just mention the doctor's name and see if I protest?

Also, has a man *ever* been asked if he was okay with the gender of his doctor?

At work, I have also been put in positions from time to time where I was pressured to see a patient for no other reason than they had "woman problems," when I believed another doctor was better trained to treat their issues.  I'd have no problem with it if the woman had specifically requested a female physician, but that was never the case.  It was always decided that "she'd probably prefer a woman."  Sometimes I feel embarrassed to march in, knowing that I'm only there because of my XX chromosomes.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Badge reversal

We recently got an influx of new nurses at work, and I'm awful with names, so I've been struggling to keep it all straight.  I pride myself in knowing everyone's names, so I hate it when I have to ask for something from a nurse whose name I don't know.

Anyway, yesterday I was asking a nurse a question during a meeting, and I couldn't remember her name.  I checked her badge, but her badge was flipped over so I couldn't read it.

Then I looked around the room and discovered that with only a couple of exceptions, every single person in the room had their badge flipped over so you couldn't read their name.  (You'd think just by chance, half would be correct.)

There's something about that which really bothers me.  Badges are required at work for a reason.  Whatever that reason is, I'm sure 80% of badges being flipped the wrong way is not in the spirit of the reason.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

I've got some good news...

I don't actually have news, good or bad.  But when you read the subject of this email, did you think I was about to announce I was pregnant?  Because if you did, congratulations, you're exactly like me.

I have literally had three conversations with women in the last week where they told me they had big news and I immediately thought they were pregnant.  And they were pregnant in NONE of those cases.

Friend: "I have some good news!"

Me: "!!!"

Friend: "I'm not pregnant."

Me: "Oh!  Um, I have to admit, I did sort of think..."

Friend: "You know I had my tubes tied."

Me: "Yes.  I did know that."

I find it aggravating that I am apparently so sexist that the only good news I can imagine a woman having is that she's pregnant.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


Doctor dictating next to me: "The patient complained of frequent urination.  She said she woke up multiple times during the night to urinate.  However, during the day, she only urinated a smaller amount.  She is not on any medications that would cause her to urinate more frequently."

Me: "You're saying 'urinate' a lot."

I don't know why, but the word "urinate" just seems weird to me.  I always say "void" in my job and at home, I say "pee." Actually, at work I say "pee" a lot too when I'm talking to patients.  Anything I can do to avoid saying "urinate."

Monday, July 17, 2017

Worse than Ben Carson

I tend to think of neurosurgeons as incredibly hard-working individuals--definitely up there as the most dedicated and intelligent and diligent physicians out there.  But there's one neurosurgery practice we deal with that repeatedly baffles me.

Our unit coordinator: "We'd like to schedule a follow up visit for Mr. Johnson."

Neurosurgery practice receptionist: "Hmm.  Well, he had a motorcycle accident.  We don't see people who were in motorcycle accidents."

Us: "What???"

Them: "Sorry."

Us: "But you saw him at the hospital."

Them: "Well... that's true.  But why does he need to be seen by us again?"

Us: "Um, because you removed half his skull?"

Honestly, call me old fashioned, but I really believe that once you take off someone's skull, you owe them at least one follow-up appointment.  Just sayin'.