Thursday, December 17, 2015

On zederisms

A recent comment confused me. As usual.

Bruce Hamjangles accused me of promulgating zederisms.  Despite googling the word, I had no idea what a zederism was.  Turns out it's a neologism for spelling words with a 'z' (pronounced 'zed') that would be normally spelled with an 's' in standard Australian English.

Guilty as charged.

But before you pass sentence, hear this.  I only did it because insists that 's' is wrong and puts a little red squiggle under the word.  A little red squiggle which I find so annoying that it's psychologically less damaging for me to just cave in and use American English's 'z' (pronounced 'zee').

Bruce Hamjangles also used the word "ġeār-dagum" which I am unable to shed any light on at this stage of my existence.  Do not doubt, however, that I am devoting myriad resources to decoding this apparent keyboard face-plant.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Comic road kill

Knock knock.

Who's there?


Cow who?

What did the cow find when it crossed the road?

I don't know, what?

This joke.

Monday, December 14, 2015

How to just pop it back in

A lot of readers have been asking me for advice recently on how to reduce a proximal dislocation of the 5th metacarpal.  It's an unusual injury, the more common outcome being to simply smash the metacarpal into pieces - the so-called "auctioneer's fracture", but sometimes the metacarpal is simply too strong, too stubborn, or too ignorant to break, and a dislocation occurs - the so-called "meteorologist's dislocation".

It is easily recognized clinically by the appearance of firm lump on the dorsal surface of the hand, preserved motor function of the fingers, and an unequivocal description in the radiologist's report.

Reduction of the dislocation (or more colloquially, "popping it back in") can be achieved by following these easy, easy steps:

  1. Ask your boss to help you.
  2. When your boss tells you to simply do an ulnar nerve block at the wrist, tell him (or her - this technique works equally well with supervisors of either gender) that you have not done this before.
  3. When your boss suggests that you use Google to learn how to do it, use Google to learn how to do it.
  4. Ideally, your source of instructions on Google should be a PDF document, preferably authored by a doctor-sounding person.  Watching videos on YouTube lacks gravitas, while learning medicine from a blog post is simply preposterous.
  5. Print out the instructions and place them out of your patient's eyeline but within your line of sight.
  6. Locate the distal flexor carpi ulnaris tendon.
  7. Using a 22 gauge needle or smaller, penetrate the skin deep to the tendon on the medial aspect of the wrist and advance the needle approximately 10-90 mm.
  8. Infiltrate 3-5 mL of a mixture of 1% lignocaine and 1 tsp cream of tartar.
  9. As the patient's vasovagal response begins, slide them gently onto the floor.  When supine on the floor, ensure airway patency.
  10. Press the emergency button on the wall.
  11. While the patient is unconscious, grab their 5th digit on the affected side and pull firmly and steadily while applying firm pressure on the dorsal surface just distal to the wrist.
  12. Feel the bones crunch as they slide back into place and vow to never eat turducken again.
  13. Revive the patient.
  14. Reassure staff who are now arriving in response the emergency alarm that everything is progressing exactly as planned.
  15. Apply an ulnar gutter slab from below the elbow to even more below the elbow, applying three point pressure to keep the metacarpal enlocated, or better yet delegate this to a nurse, student, or nursing student.
  16. Write a blog post about it, making it seem like it really happened. 
  17. Profit.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015


The other day I got a call from my doctor.  It might seem strange that I, as a doctor, have a doctor.  But it's actually a really good idea.  As I like to say to people who are easily confused, "The barber cuts the hair of everyone in town who doesn't cut their own hair. Who cuts the barber's hair?"  If the barber cuts his own hair, then he doesn't cut his own hair, then he does cut his own hair, ad infinitum.
Obviously, the barber lives in the next town over and travels to a third town to have his hair cut by a barber friend of his who is completely hairless, and he also owns one of those creepy hypoallergenic cats that feel like they are made of scrotums.  So it makes sense for me to have a doctor because that way I have two doctors looking after me.  But that's not what I'm here to talk about.

So my doctor called me, and asked me to come in because my latest cholesterol test was abnormal.  Now this was a surprise because I had already checked my result through the simple expedient of many years ago romancing and marrying a person who had ambitions to be a doctor themselves (not a barber - and thus making a third doctor who is looking after me) and asking them to look up my results, and so I knew that my results were completely normal.

Nevertheless, I dutifully went to my GP. I sat down in the consulting room and she told me that she wanted to see me because my cholesterol had suddenly and unexpectedly increased to a dangerous level.  I expressed my surprise at this, and she pointed to the computer screen where the pathology results were displayed in serial form:
Total cholesterol
7.8    7.2    4.8
and at that point, she said in a horrified voice - "Wait, I think I was looking at the wrong one.  4.9 is the most recent one isn't it? Since you started the statin."

What she had done was assume the results were listed from newest to oldest rather than oldest to newest.  On the face of it, this seems pretty dopey, especially as each column has the date printed at the top.

But it's actually an easy mistake to make, as that is indeed the way that some pathology companies list their data so she would have been used to just looking at the leftmost column, whereas I am used to the one I am familiar with from work, which does it the logical way.

I say logical because we read from left to right, so it makes sense for new data to be added to the right of the old data.  You may accuse me of cultural imperialism, but if you usually read my blog from right to left, esnes ekam t'nod sekoj ym rednow on s'ti.

In fact, I have made the same mistake in the past, but in reverse.  I was working in ED and got a different company to fax me some old results.  I read them the wrong way around and rushed off to try to figure out why the person's blood tests just made no sense at all.  How embarrassing.

But not as embarrassing as the time I checked a patient's blood test results, which gave a reading of 55378008 ng/L, but I had glanced at the paper upside down, so unfortunately broke the news to the patient that they were boobless.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Much safer

What is a war?

A war is what happens when army people from two different lands get together and fight each other, usually because they are having an argument about something.

So they fight with swords?

In the Olden Days they fought with swords, but now they use guns.

That is good, because swords are very pointy and you might accidentally hurt someone.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Eleven incredible facts that will change the way you blah blah blah.

1. Pizza Hut was founded closer to Cleopatra's lifetime than to the era of the construction of the pyramids.
I mean, this stands to reason.  We've all seen pictures of Cleopatra lounging around on some boat on the Nile, floating past the pyramids, so clearly they already existed by the time she came on the scene.  Mind you, it was in a movie.  Probably fucking Kubrick, faking Egyptian history just like he faked the moon landings.

2. More pictures are taken today of Justin Beiber than were taken of Justin Beiber in the whole of the 18th century.
Again, pretty obvious.  Justin Beiber was only born in 2008 so not many photographs of him COULD be taken in the 18th century. Especially since photography wasn't invented until the 19th century. Duh. Sub-prime crisis notwithstanding.

3. The gap between the invention of the written word and the very first tweet was a mere 5200 years.
Around 3200 BC, the Sumerians discovered that by scratching their names into wet concrete they could eternally preserve their ill-fated teenage romances in the sidewalk outside their houses.  Then in 1976 Tim Berners-Lee invented Al Gore and tweeted "Watson, come in here, I need you. LOL!!!" using his fax machine. This EXPONENTIAL development in communication was mostly funded by the military - loose lips sink ships?!

4. The average smart phone of today contains more explosive power than the Saturn V rocket than lifted Stanley Kubrick into space.
Point that browser to - the website that lets you hook up with hot chefs suffering from endocrine disorders.  Conversely, I pointed my Saturn V there and it just crashed.

5. George Washington, first president of the United States, despite being "Father Of The Nation", had no offspring.
That is, none I could track down with a cursory reading of Wikipedia.  Next time I should look at the page about George Washington I guess.

6. Egypt's Sphinx was largely built with the aid of woolly mammoths.
Really, it's true.  At least it should be.  It would explain the nose. Or not, I suppose.

7. France was using the guillotine when Star Wars was released.
Although it was called "La Guerre Des Etoiles", which literally translated means something like, "I Played The Guitar On The Toilet", perhaps explaining the lingering popularity of the guillotine. Nevertheless, for a few months in 1977, it became fashionable among those about to be decapitated to say, "If you strike me down, I will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine."

8. My daughter is literally older than sliced bread.
The Hatchling is five.  My bread was baked just last weekend.  No comparison.  But incredible to think about, really, when you consider that before sliced bread was invented, a sandwich could only be made by layering two whole loaves on top of each other, which was almost impossible to eat, moreso if you were only five.

9. If you were born in 1800, the world population has septunkled since your birth.
The population of Earth has increased from 1 billion to 7 billion in that time. This figure, however, doesn't take into account the precipitous crash in the world population of Tyrannosaurus Rex over the same time.  Tragically, by the dawn of the 21st century, less than 1000 T-Rexes were alive in the wild.  

10. There are whales alive today that have never read Moby Dick.
Despite some bowhead whales living off the coast of Alaska being up to 200 years old, and thus having had plenty of time to read Moby Dick, especially when you consider that almost none of them work full-time and in fact receive substantial government hand-outs so don't exactly have many demands on their time, researchers estimate that the majority of whales derive their at-best cursory knowledge of Moby Dick from the 1980's animated children's TV show, Star Blazers, in which the sunken WW2 battleship Yamato is converted to a starship and sent off on a desperate mission to save the earth - a fact which probably tells you more about whales than the aforementioned TV show does about Moby Dick.  Let's see how they do with Yann Martel.

11. If all of this year was represented by the Mesozoic Era, Easter would have been at the end of the Triassic.
200 million years is a long time between chocolate eggs, mass-extinction or not.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Fresh out of ice-cream

An anonymous commenter on my previous post made me wonder if there is any documentary evidence of zombie Lego Friends with hypercholesterolaemia having fought in the Vietnam war. Perspicacity such as this can't be ignored, so I scoured the classified microfiche banks in my basement and discovered this picture.

The thicket in the background places the subject probably somewhere around the Mekong delta. The rifle is an M14, dating the picture to roughly 1965-67, unless the zombie Lego Friend was serving in the US Marines or Army Engineers, in which case it could date to as late as 1974.

As you can see, the zombie Lego Friend is carrying a large  supply of fish oil, known to help lower elevated triglycerides. While elevated triglycerides are not a typical feature of familial hypercholesterolaemia, it's better to be safe than sorry.

Finally, whilst it is impossible to definitively identify which zombie Lego Friend this is, the style and colour of the remnants of hair strongly suggest that this could be the undead form of Olivia, previously known primarily for her mobile ice-cream shop, powered by bicycle.

No doubt she roams the delta still.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Antipsychotics are bullshit!  You know, what happened to people with schizophrenia before antipsychotics were invented? Huh?

Well, most of them probably died very young from exposure, malnutrition, violence, suicide, disease, or else were locked up for the rest of their lives.


Monday, November 9, 2015


I really really like your watch.

Me too.

When you are dead, who will get to have your watch?

You will, I suppose.

I can't wait! I can't wait!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Thoughtful propaganda

Dadda, when I am grown up and getting married, can you please try very very hard to not be dead so you can hold my hand and walk with me past all my friends at the wedding?

I would love to do that, it would be the best thing ever.

So you have to eat lots of healthy foods and do lots of exercise too.

Fine then. Fine.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Whoever smelt it...

Smaller Half
There's a funny smell in the kitchen.

Like what?

Smaller Half
Like there's meat in the bin that's gone off or something.

I think it was Dadda.


You always make funny smells, Dadda.

And how is that?

When you're cooking, of course!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Don't do this at home

So, what do you do for a job?

I'm a butcher.

Me too.  Ha ha ha ha.


Anyway, it's really true isn't it, that if you want a decent piece of meat you should buy it at a butcher's shop instead of a supermarket.

I'm a butcher in a supermarket.

... Sooooo, it's the end of my shift now. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Nothing beats fish-fingers

Rock-paper-scissors is a good game to play with a four-year-old.  It's simple enough to remember when you're exhausted, yet also boundlessly entertaining enough to keep them occupied trying to outsmart you.  But it's just not good enough for some.

Probably the best known rock-paper-scissors extension is rock-paper-scissors-Spock-lizard, as illustrated below.  It's tolerably amusing, I suppose, if you happened to be trapped in a broken subway with four (other) sweaty nerds.

Tonight while playing rock-paper-scissors with the Hatchling during dinner, she was riding high on a string of 5 successive victories, when she suddenly innovated.  My Smaller Half had played scissors - the Hatchling played a single extended finger.

"What's that? A sword?", I asked.
"No, a fish finger!", she said.
"Okay. So how does it work? What does the fish finger beat?"
"The goldfish", she replied, waving her flat hand held vertically, rather than horizontally as in paper.
"Right. And what does the goldfish beat?"
"Fish food!", she said, forming an inverted cup with her fingers pointing downward to the table.
"Okay, and what does the fish food beat?"
"What? There's not much incentive to play that then.  Does anything beat the fish finger?"

A pretty bizarre variant - it's basically two parallel games.  Rock-paper-scissors runs independently and as normal in its cyclical structure. And from time to time you can, if you wish, go skewing off into the fourth dimension and play the other fishfinger-goldfish-fishfood game, which is strictly hierarchical and entirely lacking in strategy of any kind.  Basically if you're playing this game the fish-fingers stretch out in front of you to infinity unless you decide for some reason to deliberately throw the game by playing goldfish or fish-food.

As for what happens if there is cross-over between the two games, at this stage the science is unclear.  Does fish-food beat paper? Do scissors beat gold-fish? I'd suggest treading carefully until the full ramifications have been worked out by the experts.

Nevertheless, as mentioned above, rock-paper-scissors-fishfinger-goldfish-fish-food captures some essential truths about life:

  • it's repetitive,
  • you cannot win, unless your enemy chooses to lose,
  • you don't want to be fish food,
  • nothing beats fish-fingers.
I think this is going to catch on and be a Big Thing.  Might get some t-shirts printed.  

But remember kids - don't play for money.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

This week on MasterChef

Another amazing week of culinary feats this week on MasterChef!  Let's look ahead to the highlights:
  • On Monday, watch the contestants scurry to cook a meal in just 45 minutes, using only ingredients that start with the letter Q.  Jessica prepares a quail and quinoa quesadilla, while Kha plans a quince quiche with quark, but runs into a quirky quandary.  Who will win the day?
  • Tuesday: Mystery Box!  The contestants are always pushed to the limit by the Mystery Box and tonight is no exception. They are required to design, prepare and serve a seafood luncheon to the missing aviatrix Amelia Earhart.  Georgia and Jamie team up to scour the floor of the Pacific Ocean for fresh ingredients and the wreckage of her plane.  Do they have what it takes to succeed?
  • On Wednesday, the budding chefs are challenged to a contest of basic skills.  They are given 10 minutes to remove and fillet their own leg, something most of them have never done before. Reynold concocts an impromptu blood sausage before lapsing into unconsciousness, while Jarrod panics and cuts off his left arm by mistake, necessitating a visit to the MasterChef nurse.
  • On Thursday, the contestants visit the training venue of the Australian Paralympic basketball team for inspiration.  In a poorly timed challenge of questionable taste, they are required to prepare and serve a three course service without using their hands.  Jarrod comes roaring back into the competition as the only cook with two functional lower limbs.
  • Finally, they are divided into two teams for the weekend brunch challenge. The Red team must cook in an atmosphere of pure oxygen, while the Blue team must cook with no oxygen at all. Can you guess who dies in a fiery explosion, and who succumbs to hypoxic brain injury?  And will it affect their chances in the ensuing elimination challenge?
For recipes, filleting tips, and lessons in basic chemistry, why not visit the MasterChef website? Tune in tonight to watch our search for Australia's 2015 ...  MASTERCHEF!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Who's on first?

We went to church this morning.

Which is to say, we went to a wedding, which was held at a church.  It was an Anglican service, so it struck me as bizarrely formal and packed with arcane regalia.  God help me if I ever go back in a Catholic church.

It was an unusual wedding.  The bride was an Anglican deacon.  And so was the bridegroom.  (And what's with that terminology?  Isn't a groom someone who brushes horses?) So there's probably an Abbott and Costello routine in there where the groom argues with the priest later on:
"I married my wife a year ago today."
"No, I married your wife. And you."
Hmm, perhaps not.

I worked a late shift last night so I was pretty wrecked.  During one of the many moments of religious contemplation, I closed my eyes and had a little quiet time.  Unfortunately for me, the Hatchling was sitting next to me, with an eagle-eye for detail.

"Dad!  WAKE UP!"

Made me feel so disreputable.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Meet me in the middle of the air

I am your true shepherd
I will lead you there
Beside still waters
Come and meet me in the middle of the air
I will meet you in the middle of the air

I will lay you down
In pastures green and fair
Every soul shall be restored
I will meet them in the middle of the air
Come and meet me in the middle of the air

Through the lonesome valley
My rod and staff you'll bear
Fear not death's dark shadow
Come and meet me in the middle of the air
I will meet you in the middle of the air

With oil I shall anoint you
A table shall I prepare
Your cup will runneth over
Come and meet me in the middle of the air
I will meet you in the middle of the air

In my house you'll dwell forever
You shall not want for care
Surely goodness and mercy will follow you
Come and meet me in the middle of the air
I will meet you in the middle of the air 

- Paul Kelly

Thursday, April 23, 2015

I am, you are, we are Australian

The Hatchling valiantly did her best to get me to chuck a sickie today and stay home to play Lego with her.  I won't pretend I wasn't tempted.

I don't want you to go to work today.

I know, but I have to go. There will be sick people who need my help.

I have an idea! You could call them and tell them that the other doctors will see them instead of you!

Yes! Err, I mean, that would be unfair on the other doctors. Sigh.

Still, coming up on Anzac Day as we are, I really think she's demonstrating what being an Aussie is all about!  So proud right now!

And I'd like to mention a devious idea I had today - it occurred to me that if I were to get to work half an hour early, the other people on my shift would see me working hard when they got there and assume that I was on the early shift.  Then when the early shift left, I could stick around for another half hour tidying up loose ends then piss off home early myself.  I won't pretend I wasn't tempted.  So proud right now!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Once again, German has an unexpectedly apt word for what you have just experienced

Blutschlauchüberraschung (n.) - A feeling of wonder, as that elicited when emptying your pockets upon arriving home after an evening at work only to unexpectedly find a tube of blood, unlabelled, whose origin you do not recall.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Sweet cheeks

Here's a quick quiz for those contemplating getting into medicine as a career - complete this sentence:
"I wish to become a doctor because..."

  1. I want to help people.
  2. I enjoy challenges.
  3. I got good marks at school.
  4. I enjoy pushing people's guts back up into their bums.
Mark my words, if you're applying to medical school, you'll be asked that question, and the correct answer is 4. Bums is where it's at.  The panel will know that you're a pragmatist rather than an idealist and you'll be in like Flynn.

Almost everyone has a rectum.
Some people have prolapsed rectums that fall out of their bums.
A few people have rectum that flop right out if you so much as glance at them wrongly.

Which is fine, don't get me wrong.  Easy in, easy out, in general.  Problem is, if they stay out for a while they can start to swell up, then it's hard to push them back in.  It's like trying to thread a needle with a marshmallow.

If you find yourself having to push a swollen rectum back up someone's bum, here's a handy tip: if you sprinkle said rectum with some salt or sugar, water will be drawn out of the mucosal surface by osmosis.  This reduces the swelling and makes it easier to push it back into the bum.

Having said that, I prefer sugar to salt, for two main reasons.
  1. You know how much it hurts when you get something salty on an ulcer inside your lip? The idea of giving someone that feeling in their bottom just makes me cringe.
  2. I think using sugar instead of salt is safer, just in case someone walks by with a lemon and some tequila and gets the wrong idea about what's going on.  Could be an ugly scene.
So I use sugar.  A teaspoon or so will do.  Leave it on for a few minutes so it has time to shlurp that water out of that rectum.  But before you leap ahead and push it back into the bum, wipe the sugar off first.  You don't want to attract ants.

Any questions?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

German is an incredibly versatile language

Manfraurektumverwirrung (n.) - The disorientation felt by the medical examiner during a rectal exam when they realize that the man's rectum feels much more like a woman's rectum because the man has had a total prostatectomy so there is no anterior firmness, so for a brief moment the doctor is concerned that they have made a terrible mistake and is fact examining the wrong patient.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Sincere gratitude

Thank you for laughing at me when I needed help.
Thank you for being incredulous that I couldn't read your mind.
Thank you for making me guess when you knew I didn't know.
Thank you for answering my question with a question
Thank you for questioning my answer too.

Thank you for being too busy for me.
Thank you for having heard more interesting stories far away, in another time.
Thank you for not meeting my eye.

Thank you for wandering and hiding and making me chase you.
Thank you for your affectation of indolence which told me what I needed to know.
Thank you for dismissing me.

Thank you for monitoring me.
Thank you for checking up on me behind my back.
Thank you for offering. I agreed, but then the offer changed.  Thank you.
Thank you for making me feel like I could do this.

Thank you for staring at me in disbelief.
Thank you for mistrusting me.
Thank you for threatening me.
Thank you for trying to take away my options.

Thank you for talking and talking and talking.
Thank you for not listening.
Thank you for not trusting me.
Thank you for bragging and strutting and pouting.

Thank you for grinning and smiling and acting like my friend.
Thank you for seizing the opportunity to belittle me.
Thank you for asserting your dominance.
Thank you for your misperception of my admiration.

Thank you for being lazy.
Thank you for making me do your dirty work.
Thank you for mocking and boasting and preening.

Thank you for trusting me.
Thank you for thanking me for what I have to give.
Thank you for listening to my opinion.
Thank you for sympathising.
Thank you for making me feel like a human.

Thank you for interrupting.
Thank you for correcting.
Thank you for not listening.
Thank you for looking so bored.
Thank you for making your obligations seem like favours.
Thank you for showing your contempt.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Where have all the nurses gone?

Doctors are a superstitious, cowardly lot.  So my disguise must be able to strike terror into their hearts.  Errr, no forget that.  Just think of the superstitious, cowardly bit.  There is no disguise.

Doctors are so superstitious that they do. Not. Ever. Use. The word. Quiet.  It's never a quiet day.  It's never quiet in here.  Even patients aren't allowed to say these things.  People will be quickly corrected.  It is in fact "steady", "ok", "not too bad", or (for the extremely bold or naive) "a bit slow".  Everyone knows that saying it is quiet invites the attention of the Gods, who will smite you most unjustly and spitefully.

Yet some things, when examined with the might and majesty of science, turn out to be not superstitions but cold hard facts.  Take, for example, the observation that when the nurses are hard to find, it means that the shit is about to hit the fan. After lengthy investigation I have determined that this is true, a truth that shines brighter than the sun, casting shadows on our minds so we knowest it even while our backs are turned from the light.

Sorry, got a bit florid there,

The facts are these.  Nurses, with their superior sense of hearing and touch, are able to sense the low-frequency vibrations caused by distant shit hitting the fan.  As the shit and the fan grow closer, the nurses become agitated and distressed, and will find ways to escape the impending disaster.

For example, today I saw a herd of fifty nurses galloping wildly in circles, biting and kicking at each other in dismay, before they suddenly veered away and plunged off a great precipice to fall hundreds of metres into an icy mountain river and were swept onward to the sea.  Soon afterwards, a busload of bespectacled teenage girls who were unable to weight bear on their mildly sprained ankles presented to triage.  With their mothers.

Another anecdote, if I may, for while the plural of anecdote may not be data, it certainly is "blog":

Last year, I myself witnessed a dozen nurses leaping above the water of their pond, shaking their golden tails in the sunlight.  Very soon, they were all lying helplessly on the bank of the pond, their scales glittering while their gills gaped and flapped as they slowly suffocated in their thirst for oxygen.  I stood above them and sang an old Scottish dirge but kept my sextant ready.  Sure enough, soon it was reported that there was no more instant coffee in the break room, and it was the weekend so the cafe was shut.

As you can see, even seemingly inexplicable occurrences have their origins in physicks.  The modern man of science must eschew superstition in all its forms if we are to struggle up beyond this primal muck in which we wallow.

I'm Bat-Man!

Monday, February 23, 2015

4 fattening foods to avoid this summer

Summer is coming, if you live in the northern hemisphere of Mars.  If you're worried about how to get that perfect spacesuit body, here are 4 fattening foods to avoid that you might not know about!

Lard is the big diet fad this year, as it's 99% sugar free.  Lardsicles, lardwiches, lardacinos - people everywhere are singing their praises.  But did you know that as well as being 99% sugar free, lard is only 1% fat free?  And scientists at Princeton have recently discovered that this may result in lard being up to 99% fat!  This may not sound too bad, but some of those scientist's friends have recently theorized that dietary fat may be an important contributor to total caloric intake, which itself is believed to be related in some as yet unknown manner to your energy intake/output balance, which Sanskrit manuscripts recently found in Paulo Coelho's underwear drawer attribute to how fat you are.  So try eating less lard and see if it helps.  You don't have to go entirely without though - colonic irrigation using lard is still okay.

Crushed Glass
Crushed glass is the big diet fad this year, as it's 99% fat free and 99% sugar free.  Glassicles, glasswiches, glassacinos - people are just munching that stuff up.  And sure, in the short term it seems like bleeding vigorously from the mouth and anus would be an easy way to lose weight.  But in the long run, perhaps in 2 hours, perhaps in 3, you'll end up in an intensive care ward getting parenteral nutrition while you wait for your entire digestive tract to be transplanted.  And do those bookish, bespectacled ICU-types really care about the state of your muffin top?  They do not.  They'll just pour those milkshakes into your veins and plump you up, up, up, up, up.

The list of people who don't know that water is fattening is so lengthy, it would be easier for me to just give you the list of people who know that it is.  But that's just what they're expecting me to do.  Shhhhh...  They're listening... Just think of it this way - eliminate all water from your diet and watch your hips melt like ice.  Do it.

It's becoming increasingly common these days for people to think that they can lose those summer pounds and tone those abs simply by eating cancerous facial tumours from Tasmanian Devils.  Facialtumoursicles, facialtumourwiches, facialtumouracinos.  Big mistake - for two reasons.  First, they are so delicious, especially with a garlic and cayenne aioli dip, there's no way you'll be able to stop at just one.  And second, you will of course be infected with Devil Facial Tumour Disease.  And while you might think that this would be a good thing, because the enormous and disfiguring facial tumours will physically prevent you from eating, unfortunately the cells will also disrupt the glomerular basement membrane of your kidneys, giving you a raging case of nephrotic syndrome.  You'll retain fluid in all your tissues and will swell up, up, up, up, up. I can't believe it's not butter!

So those are the four surprising foods you should avoid eating this Martian summer.  I expect you'll all be slimmer, less haemorrhagic, and much, much drier the next time we speak. But that's just what they're expecting.  Arrivederci Roma!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

There's a word in German for that too

Stauchenhefeextrakttraummüdigkeit (n.) - The overwhelming exhaustion experienced after you see a TV news bulletin saying your sister-in-law died from eating expired Vegemite only hours after winning a Commonwealth Games gold medal in freestyle swimming, and you call your brother in great distress only to be informed that it is all an elaborate hoax masterminded by Roy Slaven and HG Nelson, and you can barely cope with the roller-coaster ride of emotion when you suddenly wake up and it was all a dream and you're already late for work.

Thursday, February 19, 2015


Dadda, "eight" rhymes with "great"!

And "date".

And "gate"

And "ablate".

And "rescuscitate".


Wednesday, February 18, 2015


Mama, do you know how to make science?

Smaller Half
How to make science? No, tell me.

You need, you need, vinegar! And bottle poda. And green colouring.

Smaller Half
Bottle poda?

Yes. And you put them all in, and it goes up, up, up and all over, like a volcano!

Smaller Half
Do you mean baking soda? 

Yes. Baking soda. To make science.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

An unfocussed ramble after a minor head injury

The Emergency Department can be a rough and tumble place to work.  I've been spat on, called a "greasy white maggot", had my underwear filled with jelly while I've been distracted.  And that was just the nursing staff. You should see how badly I'm treated by the other doctors.

But last Friday evening was a first for me: I was assaulted!

As you have probably guessed from the fact that I'm making smart-arsed blog posts about it, I wasn't hurt.  But I was briefly shaken.  I won't go into details, beyond making the following observations:

  1. Old people may be puny but they can still be bloody fast.
  2. If the nursing staff warn you about a patient, they probably know what they're talking about.
  3. It's a myth that if you get hit by a patient, you are allowed to hit them back within 3 seconds and claim that it was self-defence.
  4. Shouting at demented people does not make them any less demented.
  5. Buy low, sell high.
All important lessons to learn, mark my words.

It's (a little bit) interesting to reflect on the general public's impression of emergency department mayhem and how it differs from reality.  Talking with non-medical people gives me the impression that they think the most dangerous patients are:
  1. Patients with mental illness.
  2. Patients high on the street drug du jour.
  3. Drunks.
In my experience, the most dangerous patients by far are little old demented people.  They are really unpredictable and can be extremely aggressive, and it's very easy to underestimate them.  So my list of the most dangerous patients would go:
  1. Patients with dementia.
  2. Drunks.
  3. Guard dogs with bees in their mouths.
Note that patients with mental illness do not feature on my list.  That is mostly because they are seldom dangerous (except to themselves, sadly enough).

Anyway, I came home at midnight on Friday with a jaw that clicked a bit when I chewed but by Saturday it was fine.  Which was a good thing because I spent the whole weekend eating non-stop.  What better way to celebrate your Smaller Half's birthday than by performing disgusting acts of gluttonous consumption? I should have known better than to butter and eat two more bread rolls shortly after saying, "Oh my God, I have eaten about four times too much already".

My position was that I ate the extra rolls to ensure I got value for money.  Her point of view was that the rolls were free.  My point of view was, "Aha! Exactly!" - a winning argument in my book.  At least until I had to be taken to hospital with a bowel obstruction.

So actually my top three list of most dangerous patients should be amended as follows:
  1. Patients with dementia.
  2. Drunks.
  3. Gluttons.
Make of that what you will.  I'm tired and it's time to go to bed.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Alternative pain scales

Fahrenheit Pain Scale:
If your pain was a number between 32 and 212, where 32 is no pain at all and 212 is the worst pain you've ever had, what would it be right now?

Complex Pain Scale:
If your pain was a number with a magnitude less than or equal to 1, where 1 is the worst pain you've ever had, and i is defined as the square root of an immense sense of well-being and fulfillment, what would its magnitude and phase be right now?

Vintner's Pain Scale:
If your pain was a volume of wine, such as a gallon, rundlet, barrel, tierce, hogshead, puncheon, tertian, pipe, butt, or a tun, where a tun would be the worst pain you've ever felt, how much wine would it be right now?

Sagan's Pain Scale:
If your pain was a number between 1 and billions and billions, where billions and billions was the worst pain you've ever had, what would it be right now?

Hertzsprung-Russell Pain Scale:
If your pain was a letter from the sequence M, K, G, F, A, B, O where O would be hot, luminous pain radiating in the ultraviolet, what would your pain be right now?

Friday, February 13, 2015

It's all Welsh to me

Had a med student trail me around for a few hours this evening.  He seemed like a decent guy, in that he was interested in discussing things other than medicine.  As a result, when he asked me to sign his "attendance book" (to prove that he bothered to turn up, a program probably instigated as a direct result of students like me who took the university's unofficial slogan of "Teach Yourself Medicine" rather too literally), I wrote some feedback in there to the effect that I thought his pronunciation was excellent and that I appreciated his willingness to contribute anecdotes from his extensive and esoteric background knowledge.

We had this strange conversation where somehow he ended up explaining the etymology of the word "dysdiadokinesia" to me.  Because it relates to Alexander the Great and his successors, I ended up talking to him about Ptolemy, and because that sounds vaguely like Potomac we ended up talking about the American civil war and Washington crossing the Delaware river.

Interestingly, when I got home I attempted to verify the etymology of dysdiadokinesia and found it less easy than I expected.  I ended up trying to use Google Translate to translate the word "diadochos" from Greek into English, but Google insisted that "diadochos" is actually Welsh.  Welsh for "diadochos" in fact.  However did we live before Google?

So then I tried translating "diadochos" from Welsh into Greek, and got "Διάδοχος", which I then translated back into English and got "successor".  The Diadochi were indeed the Macedonian successors of Alexander the Great, like Ptolemy (who ruled in Egypt).

But I'm still not so clear on what that has to do with dysdiadokinesia.  Oh well.

Monday, February 9, 2015

A word of advice

In a recent comment on my post regarding pain scores, the indefatigable Lumpage asked, "Uhoh, I set my pain scale between 0 and 10. Am I doing it wrong?"

No, Dr Lumpage, you're not doing it wrong.  You're just doing it different.  Which is my way of saying you're doing it wrong.  Stop - collaborate and listen.

You see, I don't offer the patient the option of a pain score of zero, for the following three reasons:

  1. I have already asked them if they have any pain.  And I only ask them for a pain score if they actually have pain.  If they told me that they were in pain, and then told me that their pain score was zero, I think my brain would haemorrhage from sheer frustration. The medical history is a battle of wits.  Patients will delight in flummoxing you at every opportunity.  You must learn to close off every avenue of potential nonsense, building up your innate feel for these types of simple traps so you can conserve your energy for the real battle ahead: presenting the patient to your boss.
  2. Having a pain score of 0 to 10 is actually an 11 point scale.  This sort of thing works well for humorous effect in rock 'n' roll mockumentaries, but isn't very practical when it comes to taking medical histories from patients at 4am when neither of you can think good.  Say the person's pain score improves from 10 to 5 after 4mg of IV morphine.  In my system that is a 50% reduction in pain.  In your system that is 5/11 or a 45.4% reduction in pain.  Which is frankly absurd. Especially since if the pain drops again by another 5 points to zero, that's another 45.4% drop, for a total of 90.8%, and they are now pain free.  What the fuck? Where did the other 9.2% of their pain go?
  3. Is the patient alive? Then they are in pain.  Life is pain. Only the dead feel no pain. Or people that you've put a really good ring block in - you can just rip their nails out using haemostats and they don't feel a thing.  It's full on.  But aside from them, everyone else feels the exquisite pain of living, every waking moment, swimming in the agony of existence until they can swim no longer.
So, yeah, you're doing it wrong. 1 to 10, my friend. 1 to 10.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Non-renewable resource

"I'm so sorry for wasting your time."

It's surprising to me how often people say this to me at work in the Emergency Department.  Actually, it's not - it's surprising WHO says this to me at work in the Emergency Department, and WHEN, and WHY.

People never say this AFTER I have finished with them.  They always say it BEFORE-hand.  And the people who say it are usually the people who are absolutely not wasting my time.  These are the people that emergency departments exist to help.  They are most often elderly people who are quite frail and live alone, polite to a fault.  For example, they may have fallen down during a dizzy spell and been unable to get up again for some hours until they were discovered by chance.  You know - the people who could easily have turned up (or not) the next day - dead.

The other big pre-emptive apologisers are parents of very small babies, only a few months old, who have been dropped on their heads or have some kind of mysterious raging fever.  Again, people where things can go seriously wrong very rapidly, so coming to the hospital for a safety check is an entirely sensible thing to do.

Or the guy who broke a bone in his leg but didn't come to hospital for 9 days despite being unable to walk AT ALL because he thought it was just badly sprained and hadn't even taken any painkillers.  That guy apologised for wasting my time until I showed him his x-rays.

On the other hand, nobody has ever apologised for wasting my time when they have come to hospital on a busy Saturday night complaining of itchy arms.  And nobody has ever apologised for wasting my time for telling me that the pain in their ankle is so agonising that I can't even touch it, let alone expect them to bear weight on it, but who then, after being cleared of fractures with an x-ray, stand up from their wheelchair and walk unassisted out of the department.  And nobody has ever apologised for wasting my time when telling their child, who has bumped their arm and has a bruise, not to move it around like I am asking them to, just in case they hurt themselves.  These people do not apologise.

However, I can't complain too much.  Well, I can, and I just did.  What I really mean is that it is hypocritical for me to complain.  The person who wastes the most of my time is me.  And I don't even get paid for it.

Donate now.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

There's a word for it in German

Zehennagelschnurrbartangst (n.) - The experience of, having hours earlier extracted an infected ingrown toenail from a patient, smelling the pus again, and worrying that perhaps some of it has squirted up onto your moustache without your knowledge.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Obligatory blog post about pain scores

So if you had to give your pain a score between 1 and 10, where 10 is the worst pain you've ever had, what would you pain score be right now?

Mrs Lumbago

So this is the worst pain you've ever felt?

Mrs Lumbago
No, it was worse this morning.

Ok, so if it was 10 out of 10 this morning, what score would you give it now?

Mrs Lumbago

So it's just as bad now as it was this morning?

Mrs Lumbago
No, this morning it was much worse.

Right. So the pain was at its worst this morning, 10 out of 10.  If 10 is the worst, what's it like now that it's a bit better?

Mrs Lumbago

Excellent. Excellent.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Dream envy

The Hatchling got up from an afternoon snooze the other day and I asked her if she'd had a dream.
"Yes, I had a lovely dream" - what about?
"Fairies." - what colour were they?
"Pink, like a pom-pom" - lovely - what were they doing?
"They were building a statue" - out of what?
"Out of pieces that one of the fairies brought along" - how did you stick the pieces together, with glue or with tape?
"They stuck'ded themselves together, like Lego" - and did you help them?
"Yes I helped because if you were the best friends of the fairies you could help, otherwise you could only watch, like the elves" - were there elves there?
"Yes, they were naughty elves who were slapping and punching each other, but some other elves were good and they help'ded us".

I felt kind of envious after hearing this.  It does sound like a lovely dream.  When I was a kid I mostly had dreams about giant yaks devouring the carpet from under my feet faster than I could run away. Still, it made me the man I am today so I mustn't complain.


Friday, January 23, 2015

Niche talent

All parents consider their own children to be geniuses, presumably as a way of gaining street cred for having the enabling genes to make it possible, despite so blatantly failing to achieve anything in particular themselves.  And I'm no different.

So I was naturally pretty impressed when the Hatchling, newly minted 4 years old, asked us the other day why people at the bottom of the earth don't fall off.

I explained to her, using my best Up-Goer Five talk, that things always fall down, but "down" is not an absolute frame of reference (and I'm clearly paraphrasing myself here) - rather it is relative to the nearest large mass, which in our case is the Earth, so things always fall towards the centre of the Earth, this direction thus being perceived locally as "down".  She took that in her stride and didn't ask any further questions - a clear indication of either:
(a) superior intelligence and innate grasp of Newtonian physics, or
(b) superior intelligence and innate tolerance of my babbling nonsense.
The common thread being superior intelligence, I hasten to remind you.

So I was somewhat put out later that same day when she was attempting to eat a bowl of ice-cream and was dropping the ice-cream all over the floor, the table and herself.  On closer inspection, I realized she was holding the spoon upside-down.


Monday, January 19, 2015


You laugh at me when I need help.
You act incredulous that I can't read your mind. 
You make me guess when you know I don't know. 
You answer my question with a question
You question my answer too.

You're too busy for me. 
You've heard more interesting stories far away, in another time. 
You won't meet my eye. 

You wander and hide and make me chase you. 
Your affectation of indolence tells me what I need to know. 
You dismiss me. 

You monitor me. 
You check up on me behind my back. 
You offered, I agreed, but then the offer changed. 
You made me feel like I could do this. 

You stare at me disbelieving. 
You mistrust me. 
You threaten me. 
You tried to take away my options. 

You talk and talk and talk. 
You don't listen. 
You won't listen. 
You don't trust me. 
You brag and strut and pout. 

You grin and smile and act like my friend.
You seize the opportunity to belittle me. 
You assert your dominance. 
Your perception of my admiration is all too wrong. 

You are lazy. 
You make me do your dirty work. 
You mock and boast and preen. 

You trust me. 
You thank me for what I have to give. 
You listen to my opinion. 
You sympathise. 
You make me feel like a human. 

You interrupt. 
You correct. 
You don't listen. 
You look so bored. 
You make your obligations seem like favours. 
Your contempt is showing. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

For the new doctors

A new crop of medical students have radiated, shining forth from the Fine University that I attended, and tomorrow they start work as doctors. This post is just to say to them: good luck. It's going to be an incredibly intense year. You'll learn more in the next year than you have in the last four, and you'll forget almost as much. Nobody who hasn't gone through it themselves will ever really understand how it will change you. 

Work hard. 
Take a break. 
Be interested in people's stories. 
Read a good book. 
Ask questions. 

This too shall pass.