Thursday, August 10, 2017

Badge reversal

We recently got an influx of new nurses at work, and I'm awful with names, so I've been struggling to keep it all straight.  I pride myself in knowing everyone's names, so I hate it when I have to ask for something from a nurse whose name I don't know.

Anyway, yesterday I was asking a nurse a question during a meeting, and I couldn't remember her name.  I checked her badge, but her badge was flipped over so I couldn't read it.

Then I looked around the room and discovered that with only a couple of exceptions, every single person in the room had their badge flipped over so you couldn't read their name.  (You'd think just by chance, half would be correct.)

There's something about that which really bothers me.  Badges are required at work for a reason.  Whatever that reason is, I'm sure 80% of badges being flipped the wrong way is not in the spirit of the reason.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

I've got some good news...

I don't actually have news, good or bad.  But when you read the subject of this email, did you think I was about to announce I was pregnant?  Because if you did, congratulations, you're exactly like me.

I have literally had three conversations with women in the last week where they told me they had big news and I immediately thought they were pregnant.  And they were pregnant in NONE of those cases.

Friend: "I have some good news!"

Me: "!!!"

Friend: "I'm not pregnant."

Me: "Oh!  Um, I have to admit, I did sort of think..."

Friend: "You know I had my tubes tied."

Me: "Yes.  I did know that."

I find it aggravating that I am apparently so sexist that the only good news I can imagine a woman having is that she's pregnant.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


Doctor dictating next to me: "The patient complained of frequent urination.  She said she woke up multiple times during the night to urinate.  However, during the day, she only urinated a smaller amount.  She is not on any medications that would cause her to urinate more frequently."

Me: "You're saying 'urinate' a lot."

I don't know why, but the word "urinate" just seems weird to me.  I always say "void" in my job and at home, I say "pee." Actually, at work I say "pee" a lot too when I'm talking to patients.  Anything I can do to avoid saying "urinate."

Monday, July 17, 2017

Worse than Ben Carson

I tend to think of neurosurgeons as incredibly hard-working individuals--definitely up there as the most dedicated and intelligent and diligent physicians out there.  But there's one neurosurgery practice we deal with that repeatedly baffles me.

Our unit coordinator: "We'd like to schedule a follow up visit for Mr. Johnson."

Neurosurgery practice receptionist: "Hmm.  Well, he had a motorcycle accident.  We don't see people who were in motorcycle accidents."

Us: "What???"

Them: "Sorry."

Us: "But you saw him at the hospital."

Them: "Well... that's true.  But why does he need to be seen by us again?"

Us: "Um, because you removed half his skull?"

Honestly, call me old fashioned, but I really believe that once you take off someone's skull, you owe them at least one follow-up appointment.  Just sayin'.

Friday, July 7, 2017

The perils of being in medicine

When I was a med student, I went to the student health clinic for my annual women's exam.  This was something that I'd done many times before, and there was nothing significant about the exam.

Except for the fact that one week later, I was assigned to work with the male attending who had been up in my lady parts.

We were both totally professional about it, but it was hard not to think about.  A friend of mine had a GI problem requiring her to go to a colorectal surgery, and not long after, had to scrub with the surgeon who did her proctoscopy.  I'm not sure which one of us had it worse.

But what can you do?  I went to med school in a small community.  I didn't even have a car for part of the time.  Student health was the best option.

One thing that really amazed me though was that when I was on my OB/GYN rotation, the chief resident came on our L&D service to deliver her baby.  She chose that.  She was okay with letting med students who had been on her service do her exam.  Am I crazy or is that something nobody in their right minds should ever want to do?

Friday, June 30, 2017

Bathroom inequity

Recently, I took a trip to NYC and had the opportunity to see the musical Wicked.  I had been wanting to see it for like a decade and we didn't cheap out on tickets.  Like, I'm talking over a hundred dollars each.

By the intermission, I really had to pee, as did my daughter.  We got to the bathroom as quickly as we could, but the line went across the room FOUR TIMES.  The line for the men's room went around the room half a time.

I knew we only had 15 minutes for intermission, but I didn't have a sense of how large the bathroom was.  I assumed that since the show played every single night, they wouldn't create a situation where women couldn't go to the bathroom.

I was wrong.

With three minutes left, we weren't anywhere close to the bathroom.  I had to go very badly and was nearly hysterical.  After paying over a hundred dollars for a seat, I wasn't even able to go to the bathroom during the intermission???

What finally happened is they let us go to the men's room with supervision.  We had 30 seconds left at that point before they locked us out of the show.  We didn't even have time to wash our hands.  My daughter was nearly in tears.

I've talked on here before about the horrible inequity in toilets.  This happens EVERY TIME. Women have smaller bladders, they take the children, and they can't use urinals, so the line for women is always orders of magnitude longer.  Why is this never compensated for???  This was especially disappointing though, since we had waited so long for this show, paid so much money, and we weren't even allowed the basic necessity of a bathroom.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Stress Reduction

My new goal in life is stress reduction.

Correction: There's no way to actually reduce stress.  Life is stressful.  In my line of work, I see people every day who are dealing with much more stressful situations than me.  I could say that once my kids are a little older, things will be easier, but there's no guarantee of that.  From everything I've heard, dealing with teenagers isn't a walk in the park.  The job I took that was supposed to be part time and low stress has evolved into something that's not really part time and somewhat stressful.

So my goal is to improve the way I deal with stress.

A little background:

I'm someone who tends to somaticize my stress.  This has manifested itself in many different ways throughout my life.  In my mid thirties, it's mostly been musculoskeletal.  For a while, I was doing well, but a recent big stress caused everything to get worse. Lately, I've had constant tightness in my upper traps that I can't seem to get rid of. When I'm feeling good, I can ignore a little muscle tightness, but when I start focusing on it, it becomes this terrible pain that takes over my whole life.  As a physiatrist, I know and use every modality there is, but I recognize that a large part of it is psychological.

My problem is that I'm not a spiritual person.  The idea of sitting and meditating is very, very hard for me.  I've tried countless times with little success.

How can I achieve my goal of stress reduction? Has anyone been successful with this? I'm determined to do this, because I see myself going down a path that frightens me.

Monday, June 12, 2017


I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I think firefighters are heroes.

I recently was trying to fill out some disability paperwork for a firefighter who was injured in the course of his job.  It was a specific form just for firefighters.  Unfortunately, one of the most important Yes/No questions about how the injury pertained to the job was The Most Confusingly Worded Question Ever.  I think it had a triple negative.

I wanted to help the firefighter by getting him the disability benefits he deserved, but I could not figure out how to answer this question in his favor.  I showed the question to three other physicians and NONE of us could figure it out.  I finally picked one, because I had to.

It turned out to be the wrong answer.  (We were able to redo it, fortunately.)

I'd just like to thank whoever developed that paperwork to help deprive heroes of the benefits they deserve.  I hope you sleep very well at night.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Hard Questions

I get asked questions in the course of my day that can be hard to answer.

"Will I ever be able to walk again?"

"Will I have another stroke?"

"Can you fix my back pain?"

So sometimes it can be a relief to hear a medical question that I absolutely can answer:

"Mommy, since you're a doctor, can you tell me.... is a thumb a finger?"

"YES.  It is."

"Mommy says it is!!  I told you so!"

Monday, June 5, 2017

My dear friend

Does anyone else refer to patients as "friends"?

I'm not saying that you are actually friends.  I'm not suggesting anyone takes their ICU patient out for a beer.  But I feel like I hear things like this:

Nurse: "Our friend in room 305 is asking for more morphine again."

In writing this post, I'm realizing that we tend to use the word "friend" to refer more to difficult patients.

With that in mind, it worries me a little that the teachers at my kids' daycare refer to all the kids as "friends."