Wednesday 20 November 2013

Ruining the ending

We're going to go on a little detour today, away from the usual stupid patients, stupid doctors, and all the usual stupidity.  No, today I'm going to take you, my intrepid readers, on a trip.  Close your eyes.  Go ahead, close them and imagine with me.  Ok, now open them up and remember that you're reading a blog and can't read with your eyes closed, dummy.

Now imagine, if you will, that you're reading a great novel.  One with werewolves and sparkly vampires, perhaps.  Wait . . . forget that.  Imagine instead that you're watching a great movie with wonderful acting, a riveting plot line, great heroes, and a mysterious villain, and just as you're about to discover the identity of Kaiser Söze . . .

The movie shuts off.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!  God damn it, now I'll never find out that Bruce Willis was riding Rosebud while eating Soylent Green with Norman Bates' mother and Tyler Durden, who is actually Luke Skywalker's father!

"Ugh, here we go again.  What's the damned point, Doc?"

Ah, the point, right.  I'll get there.  I just can't guarantee there won't be any plot twists in the meantime.

I was on my morning rounds recently ("Finally!  Something medical!"  Alright hush, you.), and I entered the room of my latest stabbing victim (who was stabbed in the liver and nearly bled to death), only to find her surrounded by a room full of visitors.  I introduced myself as her trauma surgeon, to which the patient announced, "He's the one who saved my life."  I was just about to say "Thank you" when one of her visitors said, "Hey, you also took out my appendix!"  I take out a lot of appendices, so he didn't look immediately familiar to me.  I asked his name, and as soon as he said it, I remembered him.

"Right, now I remember you," I said as I pointed an accusing finger at him.  "I also remember that you never showed up for your follow-up appointment."

"'re right," he laughed as he pointed to his abdomen.  "But I'm doing fine.  Everything went really well, so I didn't think I needed to come back."

So how the hell does this relate to ruined endings, you may be wondering.  For a surgeon, the gratification is all in the follow-up - that is our happy ending, our satisfying outcome, our denouement as the hero rides off into the sunset.  I like to know how my patients do, especially the ones who go home immediately after surgery.  How long their pain lasted, if they had any complications, if they found my watch that mysteriously disappeared during their surgery and probably didn't fall into their abdomen.  You know, the usual.  If a patient never follows up, I don't know if he developed a wound infection, if his pain got better, how his experience was, or if he died.

This particular guy chose not to come back to see me because he figured a follow-up appointment would be a waste of his time.  But the purpose of even a simple two minute appointment is that I get to look at the wounds, poke on the belly, and make sure all questions are answered.  And look for my damned watch.

So on behalf of surgeons everywhere, please don't ruin our endings.  We want to know that Leonardo DiCaprio is not investigating Shutter Island, he's a patient.  We need to know that the Planet of the Apes is Earth.  We have to know what's in the box at the end of "Se7en".  But we don't give a shit what happens at the end of Twilight.  Not one little shit.

Fuck you, Twilight.


  1. I live how the last sentence usually sums up the post and today it was a huge plot twist because it just summed up what you've been saying this whole blog.

  2. Fuck you, Twilight. Best ending you could have put in there doc! I had a good laugh at that one, thank you!

  3. Thank you for the good laugh.

  4. Hey, come now. I'm sure there's at least ONE surgeon out there, probably female, who enjoys Twilight. I'm also sure there's at least one surgeon out there who thinks Twilight is best pony.

    1. Strangely, the latter one is probable male. :)

  5. I don't know whether you watch Big Bang theory Doc' but this reminds me of the episode when Amy is trying to teach Sheldon to cope with unfinished things - a game without the last move, a song without the last phrase etc.

    I think I can understand your need for "closure" on these, however - and your posts always make a great read.


  6. GODDAMNIT DOC! I *just* grabbed a copy of Shutter Island, and I've never seen the movie so I had no idea what was going to happen. Thanks. Thanks a lot. Now you've killed my great psychological mindfuck.

  7. Two-week post-surgical appointments aren't always happy endings. I've had two. At my first, I had a fever of 102.7 and was diagnosed with a MRSA infection (CT scan, drain tube, three kinds of IV antibiotics, five days in the hospital). At my second, I canceled the appointment due to my overriding need to take my oral Cipro for an infection that (I would find out weeks later) was actually e.coli. I'm not sad I skipped the second appointment; sometimes a straight ER admit is faster than the doctor-recommended admit. One needle aspiration and a bottle of Bactrim later, I was all good to go. But maybe I just have bad luck! :)


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