Humorous Medical Recollections 3

Humorous medical stethoscope story

Health-care professionals and the situations they create are frequently chuckle-worthy. It may not be ‘Carry on Doctor‘, but, sometimes, it’s close.

So Embarrassing

When I was a much younger fellow, I encountered an uncommonly good-looking-woman.

Q: What did you do?
A: My med-student brain fogged over and…

Chest examination (IPPA): Inspection done, Palpation done, Percussion done and finally it was time to listen to her heart and lungs (Auscultation). The patient was lying on her back, wearing a cloth, hospital gown. Her pelvis and legs were covered with a sheet. I was standing on her right side. I elevated her left breast with my left hand. My right hand held my stethoscope’s chest piece. I placed the diaphragm at the point of maximal impulse (PMI/apical pulse). Then, suddenly, my exam came to a screeching halt. I realized my stethoscope’s ear tubes were still around my neck. The earpieces were not in my ears. Worse still, both of my hands were occupied. I thought, unbelievable, I’m a dull oaf. What to do next? There was no professional way to recover from my brain’s short circuit, faking it was the best idea I could come up with at that time. So, I made some doctor noises as I repositioned my stethoscope and moved on with the rest of my physical examination. At the end of my examination I said, “I better have another quick listen.” Reflecting, my patient probably noticed my stethoscope fiasco, but didn’t want to further embarrass a well-intentioned, but bumbling youngster.


Many decades ago a single mother-of-two arrived at the CFS Holberg hospital in agony. She had recurrent vulvar herpes. She asked if I could do anything to reduce her pain and, hopefully, shorten the duration of this flare-up. A recent medical journal article suggested ether might be fit for purpose. Somewhat surprisingly, our military hospital had a lot of ether. My patient was game. We made her comfortable in a well ventilated room and carefully poured ether over her vulvar lesions. She complained that it was instantly freezing-cold, but then said, “OMG the pain is gone.” I was as impressed as she was.

Months later she visited again, this time to share a story. An ER doctor in Oregon referred her to his Internist friend in San Diego. That guy referred her to a gynaecologist. The gynaecologist, asked her to see a sub-specialist. My patient laughed when the sub-specialist pontificated, “Herpes experts are testing something new, we call it ether ablation.” The patient informed the expert she had already tried that. Fortunately, the gynaecologist had a sense of humour, so he laughed out loud when he heard the details. A young doctor in the middle of nowhere (northern tip of Vancouver Island), at a tiny Canadian military station, not big enough to be called a base, performed ether ablation months earlier.

Sounded Like

A twenty-something woman visited our walk-in clinic with a nasty, infected, ingrown toenail. After a couple of weeks on antibiotics and epsom salt soaks, she returned for a wedge resection. She was animated describing her fear of needles and pain. Before I started freezing her great toe, she was already kicking my instrument tray and our exam-room wall. She kept yelling, “Oh God!” even though, she admitted there was no pain. After the procedure, she said, “Thank you Doc, that was much better than I expected.” The next patient I saw was seated in the examining room, across the hall. When we made eye contact, she glared at me. When I introduced myself, she looked like she wanted to punch me in the face. A couple of patients later, my receptionist stopped me and asked, “Do you remember that middle-aged gal, a couple of patients back?” I replied, “Yes, of course.” My receptionist said, “Well, she told me that she was never coming back because you’re disgusting.” I replied, “What… well that’s a shame. Did she say why she was disgusted?” “She said you were a pervert. You took advantage of a pretty, young woman” and she added, “I’ll bet he does this all the time and you cover for him.”

It never crossed my mind that shouting and wall-banging from across the hall might sound like having sex. I probably owe my wife an apology for over fifty years of low-impact, love-making?

The Psychiatrist and the Worm

A forty something Canadian forces guy complained about a ”ribbon” hanging out of his “asshole,” but before offering details, he wanted to assure me he wasn’t crazy. He added that ten years earlier he was admitted to the “enchanted kingdom” by a psychiatrist after he made a similar complaint. His complaints were fatigue, intermittent heartburn and occasional loose bowel movements. Investigation revealed an infestation with fish tapeworms, diphyllobothriidae. He was delighted to learn he wasn’t nuts. His parting words were, “If you run into that head-shrinker, Dr. Chuckles, or whatever his name is, let him know that he’s the whackadoodle, not me.

More Humorous Medical Recollections

I’ve added stories as I remember them. It would have been better if I posted them all at once, alas, it is, what it is.

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