Thursday, October 30, 2008

Stories from Internship: Elephantitis Man

I'm sure Bongi would agree with me that doctors are only human - and usually have many funny stories to tell from seeing hospital patients - especially during internship. You only have to watch an episode of Scrubs. And yes. Most of the time... Scrubs is true. A lot more realistic than Gray's Anatomy.

This reminds me of a competition that our unit ran for a couple of weeks (between four of us - we left out the two religious interns).

The prize
: Lunch. Paid for while you sit and eat it quietly, the rest of the unit picking up the slack of your ward work. As you can understand, a rare gift as an intern.

The Task: Which of our patients had the largest penis?

Yes, it sounds cruel comparing private vital organs, but you all do it on the Net anyway... We weren't cruel or judging. In fact, you would have been disqualified if you laughed, gasped, or in anyway let the patient know what was going on. We became very inventive at showing skin blemishes in the inguinal area on ward rounds, or asking for a second opinion on a catheter insertion.

Needless to say after two weeks we thought we had a winner. Whilst congratulating him before a morning round, one of our religious interns came to ask about the commotion. We told her about the competition and our winner (and the size of the prize penis - "huge" is a good start).

"Can it be any penis, diseased or not?" she asked.

"Anything. This is a hospital of course".

"Well then you should have included me."

Thinking that there was no way our winner could have been surpassed - and also that we couldn't imagine this small, timid girl taking note of any man's penis, we followed...

She lead us down the long corridor and we gathered around a bed.

"Mr X, we need to see how the swelling is going," she said to the patient and removed the bed sheets.

If there has ever been a time that I have had to stifle a gasp it was then.

The man had elephantitis and the timid Intern got one HELL OF A LUNCH!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


TLA's (three letter acronyms) are the best. Both in clinical medicine and in the world of medical aids.

They sound intelligent. And mysterious. And that's what Doctors are, aren't they?

My favourite is FOS (full of shit - can be used in psych or gastroenterology).

I once had a patient who was well versed in TLA's and also liked to read files. After examining her and writing notes, I went off to collect some meds (this was in a polyclinic)...

She became all worried after reading her file. The acronym F.L.U stood out. What could it be? A fancy medical term? Fungating Lipo Ulcerations?

When I looked confused, she said that I had used an abbreviation and she was trying to think what it meant - it sounded serious...

I couldn't help but chuckle and tell her she had the FLU and I wasn't abbreviating.