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(Regrettably, our local university is the main reason that county STD rates are the second-highest in the state (the highest-ranking county is home to a naval base). Outbreaks are common and rather a grim joke with local healthcare providers. The county has purchased a new emergency radio system and one of their officers has arrived to train our staff on how to use the equipment.)

Instructor: “The great thing about this system is that it is linked to over two hundred towers, state-wide. This means that if you need to, you can communicate not only throughout the county, but with other jurisdictions as well. For example; let’s say you have to set up some kind of emergency clinic at the University for… I don’t know, what’s an epidemic that the students might experience there?”

Me: *without thinking* “Probably chlamydia.”

(My boss shushed me, but our director of nursing almost fell off her chair from laughing so hard.)


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Old 10-13-2019   #91
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Let’s Not Split Hairs About Who It Is For

Medical Office, Non-Dialogue, Ohio, USA | Healthy | December 2, 2017


Because of family history, I need a specific medical test every five years. My husband always accompanies me to the pre-test appointments. The doctor is mostly bald and does not like jokes about it.

Please note that my husband has been balding for quite a few years. A few years before this appointment, I had made my husband a baseball hat, which said, “Wish you were hair.” I hadn’t realized he was wearing it.

The doctor took one look at the hat, got a sour face, and said, “Is that meant for me?”

At first we were too startled to say anything. Then my husband removed his hat to show his own balding head. He and I burst out laughing. After his own startled pause, the doctor joined in.
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Old 10-13-2019   #92
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Thyroid Void

Medical Office, USA | Healthy | December 1, 2017


(I have hypothyroidism, which has been successfully controlled with medication for several years. Over a couple months, however, I notice that some of my symptoms are returning. I call my doctor, and she says she will do a blood test. I go to her office for the results.)

Doctor: “Okay, so your thyroid level is at 4.9.”

(The maximum is five.)

Me: “Well, no wonder I’ve been feeling sick! That’s very high.”

Doctor: “Oh, no. You’re fine. Five is the top of the normal range. You’re still under that.”

Me: “But a lot of my old symptoms are coming back. I can’t sleep at night, I’m tired during the day, I’m freezing cold all the time—”

Doctor: “You’re under stress. It’s normal.”

Me: “I HAVE GAINED 20 POUNDS IN TWO MONTHS!”

Doctor: “Well, you just need to go on a diet.”

Me: “I exercise five days a week, and I eat my fruits and veggies! I don’t feel like myself. I know my body, and I need a medication change!”

Doctor: “Well, I’m not giving you one, because you’re normal.”

(She tells me to exercise more and gives me a vitamin supplement. I fume, but take it. A couple months later, I move to a different state. I go in for an appointment with my new doctor.)

New Doctor: “I’ve been reviewing your test results from your previous doctor, and I noticed your thyroid is at 4.9. That’s very high. Are you feeling okay at that number?”

Me: “Not at all! I tried to tell her, but she wouldn’t listen. She kept saying it was normal.”

New Doctor: “I’m not surprised. Older guidelines allow it to get that high, but I’ve found that my patients feel better when their thyroid is at three or under. I’m going to order some more blood work.”

(The new blood test shows that my number skyrocketed to a six. My new doctor changes my medication immediately. It takes a year and three medicine changes to get it right. It turned out that my thyroid number had been creeping up for a couple years, and my old doctor had just ignored it. I’m happy to report that I’m much better now!)
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Old 10-13-2019   #93
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It Takes More Than Money To Clear A Bill

Columbia, Medical Office, South Carolina, USA | Healthy | December 1, 2017


(I get about a $3,000 bill from a doctor I had seen several months prior. I am confused because I know my insurance had paid it. I call the billing dept. but get no answer and leave a message. I forget about it until the next month when the bill comes again. Once again, I call, leave a message, and forget about it. Then I get a letter threatening to send me to a collection agency. I call my insurance company to double check. They tell me that not only have they paid it, but had a duplicate charge under a different account number that was of course denied. I start calling every other day. The office phones aren’t open until 10 am and they shut them down at 3:30 pm. I either get a recording and leave a message or the receptionist tells me everyone is in a meeting. This goes on for over three weeks. Then I get another threatening letter. I even go to the office in person but am told everyone is in a meeting and no one can talk to me. At this point I have had it. I wait until 10 pm at night. I call and get the voicemail system. When it says press “1” for nurse, I do so and leave a detailed, angry message that NO ONE will return my calls, I am being threatened with being sent to a collection agency for a bill that was paid, and someone better call me back or I am filing fraud charges with the insurance company and talking to a lawyer. I hang up and call back and do it again after pressing a number for a different department. I go through the entire employee directory. I do this for almost two hours and leave dozens of messages on EVERY SINGLE EMPLOYEE’S voicemail. I then call the doctor’s emergency after-hours line and leave the same message there. The next morning, at 10:01, I call the office. The receptionist recognizes my voice.)

Receptionist: “Yes, ma’am, I have the office manager here for you” *transfers me*

Manager: “Good morning, Mrs. [My Name]. I was just about to call you.”

Me: “Yeah, I bet you were.”

Manager: *sheepishly* “Yeah, everyone is talking about the messages you left, especially the doctor.”

Me: “Well, it’s not like you left me much choice.”

(She apologizes and explains. The guy who was handling the bills was creating fake patient accounts and double billing the insurance companies. Most didn’t catch it, paid the doctor, and then the guy stole the money. They fired him but have such a paperwork mess to clean up and had to gather the evidence to convict him that they didn’t have time to call the patients.)

Me: “I understand, but that is no excuse. You are sending me letters threatening to send me to a collection agency.”

Manager: “What?! Crap, the computers are printing those out automatically. We didn’t know any had been mailed out.”

Me: “Yeah, well they are and you better start answering these calls because you have some very peeved off patients who, like me, are calling lawyers.”

(She apologized again and told me that my account had been cleared up. I wonder, though, about all the others who just kept calling and getting nowhere.)
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Old 10-13-2019   #94
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A Relaxed Attitude To Drugs

England, Hospital, UK | Healthy | December 1, 2017


(I am a medical student. This is my first ever interaction in a hospital setting. The patient has been admitted for a serious lung issue, and is due to return home. It proceeds well, until it is time to round off the conversation

Me: “So, I’ve been told you’re being discharged today; is that correct?”

Patient: “Yes, that’s right. I’m going to go and see my friend when I get out. She’s really stressed.”

Me: “I’m sorry to hear that. Do you have anything nice planned?”

Patient: “We’re going to bake some weed brownies. That should help us relax!” *laughs*

Me: “Well, at least you’re not smoking it!” *nervous laughter*

(Interesting start to medicine. I’m glad she took my comment well. I just wasn’t expecting it!)
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Old 10-13-2019   #95
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Going Toe-To-Toe With The GP

Medical Office, Oklahoma, Tulsa, USA | Healthy | November 30, 2017


(I have a horrible ingrown toenail. My GP determines that surgery is necessary. He is right, as after half of it is cut away, I still have a normal toenail remaining. The surgery is done under general anesthesia, a move I thought was overkill, but it is a success. Some years later I am seeing a podiatrist about the same problem with the other foot and the doctor concludes the same treatment. I tell him about the first surgery.)

Doctor: “They gave you general anesthesia? That’s ridiculous. Was it a GP?”

Me: “I thought it was extreme. Yes, he was my GP.”

Doctor: “Figures. GP’s don’t know how to anesthetize a toe. Okay, let’s get this taken care of today.”

(He sets me up for surgery, sticks a needle in the base of my toe and injects me. After a bit he uses something pointy to test my toe.)

Doctor: “There, you shouldn’t be feeling anything.”

Me: “I can feel that quite easily. Try again.” *I look away so he knows I’m no cheating by watching* “Yeah, I can still feel it.”

Doctor: “Hmm. Let’s get you some more anesthesia.”

(After a bit, it’s still not numb. I’m suddenly feeling a great lack of confidence after hearing his short diatribe about GPs.)

Doctor: “Well, on a few rare individuals, the main nerve for that part of the toe runs up the wrong side of the toe. Let me see if that’s it.”

(Lucky for him (and me) that turned out to be exactly the case. I still get a wry grin thinking about him complaining that another doctor couldn’t just numb my toe.)
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Expecting A Faint Chance

Hospital, Israel, Tel Aviv | Healthy | November 30, 2017


(I recently fractured my wrist and hand in a bad fall. I am seeing my doctor and a follow-up appointment. Due to being unable to drive myself, my boyfriend drives me and stays while they draw blood. It’s important to note I’m only 1.60 m and he is a large man, over 2 m tall.)

Doctor: “Well, the results look good, no infections, and the x-rays show your hand and wrist are healing well. Oh, and congratulations.”

Me: “For being clumsy? Or having good bones?”

Doctor: “No… congratulations.”

Boyfriend: “For what?”

Doctor: “You’re expecting, or did you not know?”

Me: “Expecting what?”

Doctor: “A baby. You’re pregnant. We ran the results twice. You’re going to have a baby.”

(While I tried to process being pregnant, my boyfriend stood up, then promptly fainted, landing face first on the floor and leaving a nasty bruise on his forehead. Now we have a great story to tell our future child about how their big, strong father fainted when he heard the news!)
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Old 10-13-2019   #97
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Truly Acting The Part

College & University, England, Essex, UK | Healthy | November 30, 2017


(I am a paramedic student. As part of my training, we run simulated scenarios with one, two, or four students and actor(s) to be the patient (and bystanders). We have a scenario where I and another student have to respond to a man who has attempted suicide and slit both his wrists. While we’re treating him I drop a bandage and a few members of my class giggle. The actor, being the little legend he is, responds by saying

Actor: “All those people are laughing at me.”

(I had to struggle not to laugh while my partner, a seasoned EMT who is getting her UK cert, reassured him that he was just seeing things.)
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Anti-Antibiotics

Massachusetts, Medical Office, USA | Healthy | November 29, 2017


(I have a mild immune deficiency. This makes me highly susceptible to severe sinus infections. This also means that only antibiotics administered within the first week of symptoms will quickly cure my sinus infections. Anything else does nothing and it will take several months for my immune system to fight off the infection. This is well-documented.)

Doctor: “It seems your daughter’s infections are chronic. I’m going to prescribe your daughter [Medication that relies on and boosts the immune cells already present] and ask that you check back to tell me if it helped.”

Mom: “No. You have prescribed my daughter this medication and those like it before and it does nothing. She needs antibiotics.”

Doctor: “Can you try this medication for a few days? We ought not to jump right to antibiotics.”

Mom: “This is another thing you have told us to do that we have tried. No, it does not help at all.”

Doctor: “You cannot just press me for antibiotics! They’re not good for long-term health.”

Mom: “Listen to me. I know that you think I am one of those parents who just demands that doctors give my kid antibiotics for every little sniffle. I am not. I am insisting on antibiotics because they are the only thing that will stop my daughter from having to go through months of misery, pain, and exhaustion from sinus infections! This is not an exaggeration; it really does take that long. And your immune booster medication does not help much because hers is too compromised for the effect to make a difference! I would love to go through the documentation proving all of this, if you require it. But I am absolutely not leaving here having wasted my daughter’s and my time to go spend my money on a medication that will not help her avoid a long term and awful illness.”

Doctor: “Oh. Um… I have to step out for a bit. Um… you really shouldn’t over-rely on antibiotics. Be careful.”

Mom: *shoots [Doctor] a death glare*

(Fortunately, this was enough to get [Doctor] to prescribe me antibiotics. Sure enough, I was ready to go back to school by the next day and was totally free of infection after three days. My mom soon requested to never see that doctor again, which was honored. Since being guaranteed to get the medication I need as soon as possible, I have not needed to take antibiotics often and also get sick much less than before.)
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Old 10-13-2019   #99
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Symptoms May Include Death And Sarcasm

Clinic, Russia, Sarcasm, St. Petersburg | Healthy | November 29, 2017


(Back in college I spent a summer living in Russia. Midway through my stay I came down with strep throat. This is the first time I’ve had it since I was a kid, when I got it yearly. My program director takes me to a clinic that specializes in treating foreigners. After diagnosing me, the doctor comes back into my room with a pile of medication, none of which I recognize. Since I take other medications, I ask him if there are drug interactions I should be aware of. He proceeds to take the paper inserts out of every box he has and read them. After a few minutes he looks up and says

Doctor: “I don’t know; if the reaction is bad, stop taking them?”

Me: “Great. So, if I die, I’ll stop taking them.”

(Thankfully I never had a reaction but I still have no idea what it was that he gave me. Bonus? My host mother was convinced I got sick from drinking cold beverages in the hot weather
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Got More Than A Chip On Your Shoulder

Dentist, Maryland, USA | Healthy | November 29, 2017


(I go to my routine semi-annual dental check-up, and tell my dentist that I think I have chipped a molar, as there is a rough patch on my tooth that keeps catching my tongue, causing it to blister and bleed on a regular basis.)

Dentist: “Oh, yes, there is a small chip.”

Me: “Can we get it fixed?”

Dentist: “Insurance won’t cover the procedure as it’s ‘cosmetic.’”

Me: “It’s literally causing my tongue to bleed. This chip is painful, and it’s actually causing injury to me. I think it’s more than cosmetic.”

Dentist: “Oh, you’ll be fine. Just don’t play with it.”

(This went on for months. I kept asking him to fix the chip, and he kept refusing. I also got opinions from other dentists that said the chip needed to be filled, but my dentist still refused. Ultimately I switched to a new dentist due to a change in insurance; the new dentist took one look at the chip and had me scheduled for an appointment to get it filled a few days later.)

New Dentist: “Yeah, let’s get this taken care of; you shouldn’t have to suffer with this chip causing you pain and open sores. Plus, it’s deep enough that your dentin is exposed. If we leave this open any longer, your whole tooth would be in danger of forming an abscess, which would need a root canal to fix.”

Me: *in shocked disbelief* “My tooth could have rotted away from the inside out because my old dentist couldn’t be bothered to give me a filling the size of a pin-head?!”

New Dentist: “Yep.”
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