Monday 17 November 2014


What makes the earth spin?  Forget everything you think you know about science, astronomy, gravity, the Big Bang theory, relativity, and Kim Kardashian's ass.  No, what really makes the world go round is humour.  The gravity (har har) of any situation can be lightened by a well-placed quip, and nothing is ever so serious that a joke can't help.  Nowhere is this fact more evident than in the medical world.  Hospitals are big buildings full of sick, infected people, and some of these unlucky people die every day.  The mood in any hospital is typically somber at best, so anything that lightens the atmosphere can help.

Bess apparently understands this about as well as anyone I've ever met. 

When a 70-ish year old woman falls for no apparent reason, everyone around her starts to worry.  Was it a stroke?  A heart attack?  Anaemia?  Something else?  When Bess fell it was no different, except instead of simply crumpling to the ground, she bonked her head (yes, "bonk" is the technical term) on the corner of her kitchen counter.  There was a large pool of blood on the ground when emergency services arrived to her house, and they brought her quickly to me.  

On arrival Bess was completely alert, though she had neither memory of falling nor any idea why she fell.  She had a small laceration on the side of her head, but no other obvious injuries.  She maintained a smile throughout her initial workup, which fortunately showed no evidence of serious injury.   After giving her the good news, I dutifully went to tend to another patient when I heard a clamour coming from another part of the department.  We have crazed lunatics in there regularly, and the antics of someone high on PCP can instantly elevate the mood of me and my staff on an otherwise dreary night.  But nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to experience.

I walked into the main treatment area and saw what I can only describe as the closest thing I've ever seen to an actual bull in a china shop: a 250-kg woman (that's around 550 lb) was lumbering through the department, poking her head into every room, with 4 nurses trying to surround her.

And she was stark raving naked.

Several security guards were trying to usher her back towards her room, but she easily outweighed them all.  One of the nurses had a gown (extra large, if you're wondering) and was trying to lasso it around her neck to help her maintain some semblance of decorum.  Despite all this the woman continued her tirade, giving each and every patient a bit of a show.  At last the parade ended at my trauma bay . . . and Bess.  The look on Bess' face when the procession entered the trauma bay was a mixture of horrifying shock and bemused merriment.  The woman took one look at Bess, shook her head (I suppose Bess didn't have what she wanted), turned around, and trudged slowly back to her room, her entourage in tow.  I looked at Bess, a look of terror and desperation on my face.  I opened my mouth to apologise, my brain still trying to fully process what I had just witnessed.  But before I was able to formulate any words, Bess, her face completely straight, said,

"That sure is a lot of beef on those hooves."

I couldn't decide if I wanted to give Bess a hug or a high five.  So I decided to do both.

I wish I had more patients like Bess.


  1. Let Bess know I intend to steal that and use it as my own.

  2. Bess needs a medal, or at least a lollipop; anything to award her for her brilliance in the art of not having a stick up your ass.

  3. The world needs more people like her. Feel better, Bess!

  4. That's what I call indecent exposure.

  5. Replies
    1. Must be! Good spot!

      You're slipping Doc'...

  6. I'm an RN, and wish that I had more patients like Bess. The ones that share humor are few and far between.

    1. Really? Man, I think that's just ridiculous. I'm a professional patient, so to speak, and I always try to joke and laugh with my nurses or phlebotomists or whoever the heck is dealing with me at the time. I mean, medical care is a HARD job already, and I'm sure it's exhausting. Why the hell would I make it more unpleasant when I have the total and complete freedom to be pleasant, smiling, sense of humor, etc? Like, I legitimately don't understand the people who choose to be negative and to treat the people around them poorly. It's just not something my brain can process.

      I hope your quotient of humorous patients drastically increases, Anonymous. Thanks for doing the good work.

    2. Most patients are pleasant, the ones with wit are few and far between, but the ones that just seem to want to rip your soul out because they didn't provide you with what you asked for so that you could effectively help them, and unfortunately on the rise.

      I cherish my patients like you, and will jump through as many hoops as I need to so that I can smooth the road for you (and the doc by extension).

  7. Some of the old folks have used a lifetime of practice to perfect their deadpanning capabilities. Obviously Bess is one o them. Good for her and the people around her.

  8. Clearly Bess passed her neuro exam with flying colors. She's sharp as a tack.

    And I agree with Anon RN above. Patients with her wit are few and far between. I wish good health and a long life for Bess. Was the cause of her syncopal episode discovered? Sounds like atrial fib could be the culprit.


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