Monday, March 17, 2008

Graham Crackers of Despair

Those of you who have been on inpatient services know exactly what I'm talking about.

You see, on inpatient services, there are many, many times where for whatever reason you will go for hours on end with no access to food. Be it call, or rounds which last all day (I wish I were kidding), or some procedure which lasts an hour longer than it should forcing you to run down the hall to the next disaster, there always seems to be something. And in these times your only hope for avoiding a hypglycemic coma is ducking into the supply rooms and grabbing the snacks they have set aside for patients.

I'm not saying this is a proud moment, but desperate times call for... well, frankly, they call for stealing food from sick people.

Anyway, when pilfering from the supply closet, your choices are scant, by which I mean your choice is to eat one of the graham crackers in the packet or to eat both of the graham crackers in the packet.

Now, I have nothing against the graham cracker in principle. They are handy little snacks. They are sweet, yet you can convince yourself that they are marginally good for you because they seem to have pieces of grain or some kind of grass in them. They go great with peanut butter and chamomile tea.

However, there are only so many times you can stuff graham crackers into your mouth while running down the hall wondering if you managed to get all of the influenza off of your hands from the patient you just examined while trying to prevent the gag reflex which may be due to the smell memory of the wound you just debrided or may be because you haven't slept in 30 hours, lamenting the fact that some protein might make your hands stop shaking but for now all you can eat is another... damn... graham cracker... before you totally lose it.

But Despair, you ask? Isn't "despair" a little dramatic? I mean, you're getting to eat, aren't you?

Well, the next time you see someone in a white coat walking down the hospital hall eating a graham cracker, take a look at their face. You will see Despair. Because, for most of us in white coats, the graham cracker has come to symbolize all that is crappy and unrelenting about our chosen profession.

Plus, they aren't even the kind with cinnamon-sugar on top.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Random Observations from the Clinics

1. The cervix can be significantly more difficult to find than you might think. It can be very wily, that cervix.

2. Also, it usually smells weird.

3. Speaking of smelling weird, the hands-down worst smell there is in medicine is the smell of an anerobic infection. It isn't exactly bad in the classic sense, it's just that it awakens something very primal in your brain which tells you to run away, or maybe yak.

4. Crazy people can be very funny, but they can also be scary. However, most of the time, they're just confusing.

5. If you're reading a magazine, you are NOT in 10 out of 10 pain.

6. Okay, in fact, if you are doing anything other than writhing and crying, you are not in 10 out of 10 pain. So it doesn't impress me that you say you are. It makes me not believe you.

7. The more medications someone tells you they are allergic to, the more likely it is that they have a personality disorder. If one of the medications they are "allergic" to is a mood stabilizer or antipsychotic, the likelihood increases 100 fold.

8. Related Public Service Announcement: "Messes up my bowels" is NOT an allergy. Antibiotics do that to everyone. Likewise, just because a certain narcotic makes you "sick on my stomach" or "real weird" does not mean you are allergic to it. It means you are responding fairly normally to the medication. It does NOT mean you need darvocet.

9. Also, if someone says the following phrase: "(Fill in name of powerful narcotic) doesn't even touch my pain", then you can be 95% sure they are drug-seeking. It is phenomenal, and phenomenally depressing, how accurate this observation is.

10. "I got the sugar and my blood is high" is southern for "I have type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure".