It happens fairly often. The forgetting, that is, not the talking to non-medschoolers (I lead an insulated life).
But inevitably when I say something weird like, “So you’re in consulting? What do you do?” and the response is “…I just told you. Consulting,” I have my ace in the hole to distract them. It’s…my repertoire of Nasty Medschool Anecdotes. I’ll share two below, but not all of them, or else I won’t have anything else to talk about.
Anecdote 1: Any mention of earwax removal.
One of the most satisfying things I get to do is removing a big plug of dried-out maroon earwax.
There are two options. Option one is to get about a quart of warm water and some hydrogen peroxide, and blast it into the patient’s earhole with a syringe. (Cold water will give them vertigo.) After a few syringes’ worth, the water coming back out will be progressively dirtier, until earwax starts dripping out in sticky clumps. Super duper.
Or, I prefer to freehand it with an earwax spoon. It gets a little dicey with the pain and all, but I don’t like looking at the earwax-water catching bucket, with its ring of residue from patients past. I just tell the poor patient to relax and scrape away, until I get myself a nice little birthday candle.
Anecdote 2: Where my snacks at?
I’m fairly certain this is an urban legend, since I’ve heard it from people in different years (and schools) that aver that “it happened to a guy I knew.” But anyway. So the story goes:
A morbidly obese patient is admitted to the floor and there is an awful smell in the room. Now, the hospital is a place full of diverse smells…but I’ve been assured that this was the smell of something else. Something angry.
(Side note, I met a mentor who kept orange peels about her person…so she wouldn’t have to be always smelling poop. Smart lady.)
Anyway, some brave souls finally decide to get to the heart of the smell. They poke about the room…and then about the patient…and finally, after some probing, they lift her breast and find…THE SAD REMAINS OF A GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH. THERE WAS A ROTTING SANDWICH. UNDER HER BOOB. IT WAS A SANDWICH.
Her response? “Oh! That’s where that one went.”
Good start to my repertoire, right? I’m pretty sure this is what the old and distinguished doctors are talking about when they say “collect good stories for your memoirs later.” Because any chronicle of my life will definitely include delivering earwax babies and grilled cheese boobs.