ndab Ah Yes, Medical School: Basic Training

Friday, July 22, 2005

Basic Training

Let me begin by stating that I have nothing but the utmost respect for our nation's veterans. In fact, despite most staff experiences at the VA, I really enjoyed talking to the veterans I met this week while working at the urology clinic in the VA near my medical school. However, I noticed something rather peculiar about a select few of these veterans that I think is worth addressing, because it is obvious that this core element of humanity has been left out of the basic training manual they all surely received upon joining the armed forces and is likely representative of the American patient population as a whole. What do I mean? Well, some patients seem like they would be model patients. They arrive at the clinic an hour before their appointment. They have a printout of all their medications, scheduled doctors appointments, and recent labs. They are dressed up, often wearing nice slacks and a dress shirt. Very professional, very punctual. Surely, these are the model soldiers and model patients.

However, they seemed to have forgotten or never been taught one small element of the common morning routine one must go through before facing the day.

And by that I mean taking a fucking shower.

My first patient this morning, dressed in fine slacks and a polo shirt, arrived smelling so bad I could feel the odor getting stronger as he approached my office as it literally burned my nostrils. After sitting him down and taking a deep breath, I reluctantly closed the door and did my history and physical while breathing exclusively through my mouth. It got so bad in this small room I actually had to cut the physical a little short and jump outside, only because I needed a breath of fresh air because I was getting light-headed.

However, upon exiting the room I noticed that his trail of odor still lingered outside, and all I saw when I left my exam room was the angry faces of the receptionist and his co-worker demanding that I close the door. I then quickly presented my information to the attending physician while fighting back an acute onset of nausea, generated a plan that would (unfortunately) require my patient doing further tests in the clinic, took a deep breath and jumped into my room, giving the patient all the information in one long exhale so as to avoid what would be the inevitably violent penetration of his bodily aroma through me. It eventually got so bad in there I actually started tearing at the eyes before I sent him out to the waiting room because he needed to drink water before doing a test. Of course, as I walked him to the water fountain, all of the other patients moved away. One guy in a wheelchair gave me the evil eye for bringing Stinkmaster E anywhere near him. This was the literally the worst thing ever.

Luckily for me, this story does have a happy ending, at least for me. While waiting for the results, I saw another patient and during that time this first guy's results came in and he was seen by another doctor (who conveniently had a cold and couldn't smell a thing), thus saving me the misery of having to be in close contact with that guy for any more time. But you are surely on the edge of your seat wondering how I knew that had even happened? After finishing up with my second patient, I walked out and noticed Stinky McGee had disappeared, which led to this exchange with the receptionist:

Me: Uhh...where did my patient go, Mr. _____?
Receptionist: Hmm...I don't remember that name. Do you have hi-
Me: Uhh...he was the guy that smelled.
Receptionist: OH! Lord. That guy. Ya Dr. ____ saw him already and sent him home. Thank the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior.

What have we learned here? Well, it turns out that doctors are actually people, just like everyone else. And just because we spend a lot of our time knee deep in shit, piss, and any other assortment of bodily fluids does not mean you, as the patient, don't have a responsibility to at least show us a little decency and common courtesy to take a shower or put on some deoderant before you show up. Because if you don't and start saying things like "Doc, just tell me, how sick am I?", all you're going to get is a response like "Man I don't fucking know, all I can think about is that you smell worse Michael Jordan's jockstrap. I can't even remember my own name anymore."

P.S. On a totally unrelated note, I discovered this week that I look damn good in my scrubs-white coat combo. Laaaaaaaaaaaadies!


Blogger Ms. Charisma said...

As a doctor don't you have a responsibility here? Shouldn't you speak up in the hospital (not just on your blog) and say "by the way, how often do you shower? I recommend once a day or at least every other day."

p.s., I bet you look great "in uniform" -- every straight woman loves a good doctor!

11:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Firstly, let me say that I feel your pain. In order to fulfill my community service requirement for high school, I worked as a receptionist in a facility that aided the community's economically challenged population, most of whom could have given Stinky McGee a run for his money.
Secondly, if it's any consolation, at least you didn't have to give your friend Stinky a rectal exam. :)

1:13 PM  
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