Friday 11 November 2011


My heart always beats a little faster when my trauma pager goes off.  Then when I look at what's coming in and I see "GSW" or "stabbing", my heart beats a little faster still.  Is it a stabbing to heart?  A gunshot wound to the abdomen?  The anticipation is exciting, but the results are often...underwhelming.

At 5PM I found out we would be getting a stabbing victim.  I rushed down to the trauma room where the nurse told me that it was a prison inmate who was stabbed in the abdomen.  That's always nerve-wracking - what did the psycho use?  A knife?  A sharpened toothbrush?  And what did it penetrate?  Intestine?  Colon?  Stomach?  Liver?

About 5 minutes later, the patient was wheeled in wearing his traditional orange prison jumpsuit, handcuffed to the gurney.  He looked like he weighed about 450 pounds.  They move him over to the hospital gurney, and the guard just sort of looked at me and grinned.  "He stabbed himself, Doc.  You just have to see it to believe it."  So I pulled back the sheet to see...

...a spoon.  Yes, a spoon sticking out of his abdomen.  A plastic spoon.  I looked up at the guard again, and he smiled at me as if to say, "I told you!"  So I asked the patient what happened, and he told me very matter-of-factly that he inserted the spoon into his abdomen (he had already had a wound there).  And why did he do that, I asked him.

"The voices told me to."

Of course they did.  Fortunately this guy's abdominal wall was so thick and his exam was so benign that I immediately knew there was no way the spoon did any real damage.  So I reached for the spoon to pull it out when he said, "There's a pen in there too, Doc."

Of course there is.  So I pulled out the spoon, fished around and pulled out a regulation prison-issue safety pen, and released him back into the wild.


  1. Woah, thats creepy. It's commendable how you perform your duty and manage on spending time on such patients without a grin.

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  3. Ah, it's really scary. And really rare for the doctor to feel so much pain for their patients. Mostly I was the opposite situation, when the doctors are cold hearted and calm. Glad to hear there are still doctors like you


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