Friday 18 May 2012


I'm not that garrulous a guy, but it still takes a lot to render me speechless.  I typically have an answer for anything a patient may ask or say, but sometimes I still get stupefied by someone, and I solemnly promise to post each and every instance of that here.

A few days ago two brothers were involved in a car accident.  The younger brother was egging on his older brother, encouraging him to drive faster.  Not to be taunted by his little brother, he pushed the car to the limit and then lost control.  The car flipped several times, and the driver was ejected because he wasn't wearing his seatbelt.  The younger brother, who had put his seatbelt on just prior to the accident, did not even have a scratch on him.  The older brother suffered hemorrhaging in his brain and is currently on life support, barely clinging to life, in the intensive care unit.

I was talking to his mother in her son's room in the ICU the next day, lamenting the fact that he had chosen not to wear his seatbelt.  "Well I never wear mine either," his mother almost proudly announced.

"You do now," I replied and smiled sadly, thinking she had learned her lesson.

"No I will not!" she flatly stated.

I simply stared at her with my mouth probably agape.  I glanced over at her critically-injured son, and then looked back at her, hoping she would make the connection.

"I've just heard of too many people getting hurt from those things, so I will NOT wear one."

I wanted to reach over, grab her face, and point it at her son, much like you would do to a puppy that pees on the rug.  "Just look at him!  He might die because he wasn't wearing his!  Your other son who had his on literally walked away from the accident!" I almost shouted at her.  She just looked at me almost defiantly, and I realised this was a battle not worth fighting, at least at that moment.  I know she was grieving, but this was ridiculous.

Don't you think for one second that I'm planning on letting this go, however.  I will revisit this issue with her once things settle down, but I have a bad feeling that she is a lost cause.


  1. When I got in an accident last year I had a bruise in the shape of my seatbelt for a good three weeks and i'm still going to the chiropractor to fix my back... But I still wear my seatbelt, it saved my life. She will learn that, the easy way or hard way.

  2. Dear God, this woman is absolutely idiotic! Just reading this made my blood boil. Her son is in critical condition from not wearing one, and she's protesting still?

    Arg. People get hurt from seatbelts? How many fatal accidents are there from wearing them versus not? Stupid, stupid lady.

  3. People like her make it impossible for me to overestimate the abundance of stupidity in this world

  4. Any journalist will tell you it's normally the personal stories that people relate to where bland statistics are simply ignored. The madness over autism and MMR in the UK is a classic example.

    Here I just don't understand it. Both the stats and the personal story go to show the difference a seat-belt makes. I just wonder what proportion of those she knows who were "hurt" by their belts would have been dead without them.

  5. Her son wanted to prove that he was 'brave' and now he is ultimately paying the price for his reckless driving. How on earth can she proudly declare that she doesn't even use a seatbelt herself?

  6. I have no idea how you had the strength to button your lips and wait for a better time. I would probably have to excuse myself for a few minutes to gather my thoughts so I didn't explode. Keep us updated, I hope she realises and that her son gets well.

  7. Doc, this is off-topic, but could you share a story of what you wanted to be when you were younger and when you decided to become a surgeon?
    Ohh, and how are your kids? :)

    1. I've always wanted to be a doctor ever since I was 5 years old. I decided on surgery in my third year of medical school.

      My children are thriving, thanks for asking. :)

  8. O_O
    What in the hell?
    I just can't with this bs.
    You definitely deserve a medal or something for not smacking her upside the head for being so incredibly stupid.

  9. I think I would've slapped her. It is pathetic that she is so ignorant that she can't see what seatbelts do, especially with her son on the verge of death because he to refuse to wear one. Maybe she needs to keep on refusing so that eventually the gene pool will be thinned with her not in it...

  10. I only know one person who was injured by a seat belt other than a bruise. It was because she's 5 feet tall and the seat belt cut across her neck. I literally know of dozens who were saved by the seat belt, including my son. He was the only person in the car wearing a seat belt when it rolled. He told the ER doctor that he had it on because I always told him it was not negotiable, wear the seat belt. Three of his friends were killed in that wreck.

    1. I've just seen this reply and it really shows what difference a responsible parent makes - if the mother in the story had behaved as you did then she would have two healthy sons. If you had not been so insistent then your son would have been terribly hurt or killed.

      It has to be the test of us as parents, how our kids behave when we are not there. Good job Lisa!

  11. WhEn my father was 16, he was driving at night. In the rain. Speeding (a bit) With a passenger. He crashed into a tree known for crashes as he couldnt see it and the road was slick. He tore off his nose to the point that he could touch the tip to his forehead with ease and his friend had such a concussion for 3 days he suffered from short term memory loss asking every five minutes "hey mom, whats for dinner" not remembering he already asked. My father also had the seatbelt dig rather badly into his side.

    He still wears one today.


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