Being a doctor isn't necessarily as glamorous as they make it look in the movies. Turns out it's more like Scrubs and less like Grey's Anatomy.
This piece is based on a Quora Question and an AskReddit thread. Links on the last page.
When I was a 3rd year medical student, the resident and the intern were amputating a gangrenous lower leg and foot, which I was assigned to hold. After they finished cutting the soft tissue and sawing through the bone, I was left holding the now separated appendage.
They went on closing the skin and basically ignoring me. After a while, I asked: "What should I do now - take 12 miles?"
...It was supposed to be a pun based on the expression "Give them an inch..."- since instead of an inch, I had a foot.
They simply regarded me with that look that said, "Medical students are idiots." I know. I shouldn't do jokes.
It was my very first posting as an intern (gynaecology) in an Emergency Room, and I had no real idea what I was doing. The senior who was supposed to accompany me in the ER was half an hour late.
I was sitting there with a loudly beating heart and nervous smile when suddenly a family came with a mother in labour. My time to shine.
I had to examine her alone. I did know the theoretical part so I managed to go through the procedure, but did not have any idea on how to interpret my findings.
I washed my hands and began to write an advice for admission.
Meanwhile the nurse on duty started shouting. I rushed out to the trolley and saw the head of the baby was crowning! And I had no idea what to do!
The nurse took over, taking pity on me; and delivered the baby in the corridor on the trolley itself, perfectly. I assisted her and desperately tried to understand the procedure.
After the delivery, I came back and profusely thanked the nurse, promising to bring her chocolates the next day. My senior had arrived by then and heard the entire story.
He laughed for a good while and then assured me, "You did well."
I smiled, still with a nervous beating heart.
I'm not a doctor, but a dentist.
Back when I first started cleaning teeth a few years ago, I had a client who came in to get her teeth cleaned. She was the sweetest little old lady with tons of energy and was full of life. I got her comfortably seated in the chair, leaned her back, and started cleaning away.
Half way through the appointment, my stomach started to grumble pretty seriously.
She pokes fun at me for my gurgling and we both have a laugh. Minutes later, the grumbles in my stomach make their way down to my butt and it takes everything I have not to fart with this sweet lady's head between my legs.
But it's no use. I figure that if its going to force its way out, I might as well make it a silent one. I straighten up my posture and lean ever so slightly towards my tray of instruments to "swap for a new one".
I must have miscalculated or something because what was supposed to be a silent fart, turned out to be one of those toots that sounds like Mario jumping from the original Super Mario Bros.
The Granny looked at me with a look that was one part bewilderment, another part amusement, and the last I'm not even sure (maybe pity?). All she said was "There you go, Dear! Now I don't feel so bad for letting a few go myself out in the waiting room!"
I remember this one patient. She was in labour and I had to check her cervical dilation. Now, the way that's done is by doing a digital exam and estimating the gap with the index and middle fingers in a V shape.
Most of the time this is pretty routine and honestly the patient is usually too distressed by the contractions to care.
This one, however, seemed to respond to my examination in a totally unexpected way. She went from "ouch!" to "Ooh! Mhmm!"
She was clearly enjoying herself. I was not.
Many years ago I saw a female patient who complained of a painful boil on her shoulder. Accompanied by a nurse chaperone, I noted a large inflamed pustule on the back of her right shoulder, midway between her neck and shoulder joint.
As I was examining the area, pressing to determine the depth and size of the pustule, it burst.
It sprayed onto my white shirt collar and necktie. Of course, this relieved some of her pain, but I was thankful that she wasn't able to see my expression since I was standing behind her.
After a remarkably calm and quick cleanup by the amused nurse, I dressed the area and humbly retreated. The nurse and I used hydrogen peroxide to finish de-staining my shirt and tie (a trick I'd learned from having to remove blood stains from white lab coats), as I had no fresh shirt and had other patients to see.
This exemplifies why doctors' neckties should be regarded as unhygienic.
The first time I saw a man naked was in med school when we saw our first cadaver. Frankly, I think that sets you back a bit.
This was a true story from one of the doctors teaching me in med school. He was a GP and had to do a rectal exam on a new patient. It was an older man whose name had sounded familiar. During the rectal exam (these are usually perhaps several seconds) it occurred to him why he remembered the guy's name.
He asked the patient if he had been in the Army during the Korean war, to which the fellow said yes. Eventually, they figured out that they had been in the same regiment. They got to talking about old memories, comrades, people who had made it home and raised families, and remembering those who had not.
After several minutes of being lost in nostalgic recollection, my teacher looked down and realized with severe embarrassment that his hand was still in this man's rectum!
Way back in the day, maybe thirty years ago, we had a patient that would tell all female nurses: "I have _your name _tattooed onto my willy."
One day, one of the curious nurses decided to take a peek while the patient was asleep.
Turns out he literally had the two words "YOUR NAME" tattooed there.
I was once checking stitches on a patients leg who was wearing a skirt and going commando. She sneezed and peed on me. I stood up and in an effort to alleviate the tension she gave an awkward grin and said softly, "I guess I did have to go. Oops!"
We once had a delusional guy who was so adamant about us not getting a stool sample from him that he defecated in the collection tub and then proceeded to try and eat the contents.
While working in the ED, a very attractive female in her mid twenties came in with her boyfriend complaining of abdominal pain. Part of the work up requires a pelvic exam and bimanual exam (girl in stirrups, 2 fingers in as deep as possible to feel the cervix).
I offered to have a female perform the exam but she said it was okay if I did it. A chaperone was present but her boyfriend demanded to watch as well.
He stood across the foot of the bed from me and started me in the eyes with a scowl the entire time my hand was deep inside his girlfriend. It made for a very uncomfortable situation for all.
After the exam, he pulled me aside and told me he thought she was in pain because, as he put it: "We went at it harder than ever last night. I mean I really got in there. You have no idea."
I really didn't have any idea why he felt the need to say that but I assume it was because he was trying to prove something. People need to understand: there's nothing exciting about me doing my job. I'm not trying to steal your girlfriend. I'm trying to keep her healthy.
One time, a patient's father attacked me because he felt I wasn't doing my job well enough. Two minutes later, I was packing his nose with cotton to try and stop the bleeding.
So that was pretty awkward.
I used to work at a university medical centre. One day, an 18 or 19-year-old guy comes in, nervously asking for an STD check. I began with the usual questions:
ME: Have you had unprotected sex recently?
ME: Have you had protected intercourse recently?
ME: When was the last time you've had intercourse?
ME: Have you engaged in oral intercourse?
ME: When was the last time?
HIM: This morning.
ME: Do you know the person?
HIM: Sure, it was me.
Oh boy. I should have been a firefighter.
I was conducting a physical exam, just like any other day, but when I tried to check his back, I noticed that his shirt was stuck and I wasn't able to lift it.
I nicely asked the gentleman to stand up while I lifted up on the back of his shirt. Still no luck. I thought to myself, "My goodness this man really takes tucking in his shirt seriously."
So I gave it one last valiant effort and used all my might to pull it up one last time. That was when I heard, "AHHH OUCH!!"
That's when I discovered that the gentleman was wearing a very restrictive one-piece undergarment that covered not only his lower body but also his entire abdomen. So yes, I had basically just given my patient the worst wedgie of all time.
I'm so sorry about the atomic wedgie, sir.
I'm an ER doctor, so everything is pretty awkward for me, but... I was interviewing a fairly attractive young lady about a pelvic complaint, and she answers all of my questions quite comfortably with some guy in the room.
I hand her a gown so she can change for the pelvic exam, and she says, "Can you ask this guy to leave first? He just followed me in here from Triage and he won't leave me alone." That was the last time I neglected to establish the relationship of all the people in the room.
I did my residency a couple years ago. A woman came in for a checkup at the clinic I was working at. During a routine breast examination, I shifted her left breast, and a slice of Wonder Bread that had been wedged underneath fell to the floor.
I quietly moved onto the right breast, respectfully ignoring the bread, until a second piece of soggy, white Wonder Bread fell onto the floor.
Unable to bite my tongue any longer, I looked at the woman - who didn't seem to think that anything strange had happened - and said, "Ma'am, were you aware that you had two slices of bread lodged in your chest?"
Her response: "It's hot out! I get sweaty!"