Medicine’s a serious business, as we know, but an unintended mispelling (sic) or mispronunciation can offer light relief.
A message came through this week, alerting me that Mr Jones had been taken in for rest bite. Rest-bite. What a lovely idea. After months of intense Physio and OT intervention in the home, the time had finally come. The medicar pitched up and whisked him off to the Watford Gap, where he enjoyed a few nights in a Days Inn and took delivery of a nightly Whopper. Re-energized by the experience, Mr Jones headed home the next week, where his re-energized wife picked up where Burger King left off.
Another message, this time during prescription reviews: can Mrs Crevis have more pseudo-cream? Pseudo-cream, how interesting: is it a cream, or isn’t it? Does it contain dairy? Does it think it’s a cream but it isn’t really? ‘I am an emollient’, it claims, though we all know it’s really a barrier. Anyway, Mrs Crevis got her Sudocrem, and it’s now happily protecting her pressure areas.
As a house officer, I upset a nurse once by mimicking her pronunciation of Clopidogrel. Ever since a 2004 cardiology lecture at Sheffield, I’d always been a cler-pidder-grel man. I overheard said nurse taking a medication history from a pre-op patient. She clearly preferred cloppy-dog-rel. Cloppy-DOG-rel? I mocked, interrupting her flow. The sound of it conjured up images of salivating bloodhounds charging through the vasculature, snapping up platelets and tearing them to shreds. The nurse didn’t like being mocked, and rightly gave me an earful. I still say cler-pidder-grel though.
I met a retired ophthalmologist at a wedding last summer. Ophthalmology: now there’s a frequent flyer on my PDP. We were having a chat and he was treated to my story about the patient with an enormous ‘sha-ler-zion.’ ‘Sorry,’ he interrupted, ‘do you mean ker-lay-zee-un?’ Of course, chalazion, it sounded so obvious coming from an eye specialist. Hard ‘ch’ as in chord, not soft like chalet. I retreated red-faced, he with suspicions confirmed: ophthalmology, not a GP strength.
My all time favourite appeared on a nurse’s summary in A&E. I eyeballed the obs and the scribblings before seeing the middle-aged lady with abdo pain. The nurse had been thorough, and noted that a family member had ‘Huntington’s Career.’ Huntington’s Career? Certainly something I’d not been told about at school. What sort of career did Huntington pursue? Did it predispose to certain diseases? Perhaps it involved unhealthy exposure to azo-dyes or caused pneumoconiosis. Most likely of course, he’d meant to write ‘chorea’, not raise a smile for a junior doctor on a fraught day.
As GP’s, we’re having a tough time of it lately. But before you do make the switch to Huntington’s Career, consider treating yourself to a dish of pseudo-cream (it goes well with strawberry fool) and take yourself off to Chalazion, on the Cornish Coast, where you can take your cloppy dog for a walk, and enjoy a few days well deserved rest-bite.
Tom Gillham is a GP in Hertfordshire and Specialty Doctor in A&E. You can follow him @tjgillham.