Thursday, February 02, 2006

My glamorous profession

Warning: don't read this on a full stomach. Did I ever mention that Alec Baldwin watched me to get into character for the movie Malice? It's true. And for my end-of-residency roast, I did a little stand-up comedy for my fellow residents and my attending physicians, wherein I showed this video clip from Malice: You ask me if I have a God complex. Let me tell you something: I am God. Stop video clip. Lights back on me. I'm shaking my head slowly, my mouth agape. Then, I say: It's uncanny. That is so . . . ME. Ah, well. You had to be there. Truth is, if we're playing God, then God has one messy, messy job. You know what I do more than anything else? I mean, as a simple percentage of time spent? I dig out ear wax. But that's not the messiest thing I do. I'm a PusBuster. Pus is one of the main reasons I'm late blogging today. That, and my son talked me into playing two games of chess with him, and of course I had to watch The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. In residency, I owned a tiny brown bottle full of oil of wintergreen. When it comes to pus, oil of wintergreen is your best friend. Schmear a bit of it under your nose and everything smells wonderful, even gangrene. Well, maybe not gangrene. Somewhere along the way, I lost my little brown bottle. Could have used it last week -- that pus shot two-and-a-half feet across the room. Thank heavens I wasn't in its path. My nurse, a woman in her mid-sixties, said that was the worst thing she'd ever smelled. For a nurse (especially one in her mid-sixties!) that's really saying something. I'm not complaining. I like busting pus, just as I like cleaning ear wax. Nothing satisfies quite like a good spill of the yellow poo or a big fat plug of the brown-and-hairy. These are some of the happiest patients: in the case of pus, they usually experience a rapid resolution of their pain and pressure symptoms; with ear wax, they can hear again. I've been hugged more than a few times. If I thought about complaining even for a moment, I would force myself to remember my comrades in general surgery, who regularly pull beer cans, beer bottles, and baseballs from people's rectums; my comrades in urology, who remove bobby pins and other delightful items from people's urethras; and my comrades in gynecology, who sometimes have to explain to their patients that, no, tampons do not dissolve, and it's a bad idea to stuff one in after the other. See? I have it easy. Only the eye docs have it better. We're medieval barbers, that's all we are. Sometimes I try to explain that to my patients. Usually, I stop myself before they get that glazed, wide-eyed look. D. PS: Here's the US Military's latest recruiting video (NOT). Hat tip to Daily Kos for linking to this biting satire.


Blogger crystal said...

Heh! I used to have an aide job in the surgery and the worst thing I've ever smelled was a bowel resection - giant puddles of blood (burst aneurysm) were second :-)

2/03/2006 01:46:00 AM  
Blogger Jona said...

I know I probabaly shouldn't ask, but why and where do you have to deal with pus? Do people's ears pus-up like my labrador's did? (In his case it was the flappy bit and the vet cut it open and I'd have to break it open every day and squeeze (and I wouldn't tell anyone else that ;o)))

2/03/2006 03:56:00 AM  
Anonymous PBW said...

Vanilla extract works, too. Someday I must tell you why I still cannot look at a foot-long hot dog without shuddering....

I've watched the biggest, meanest soldiers on the planet turn into sobbing heaps of grateful goo after one of our docs lanced a blood-filled hemmorhoid for them.

2/03/2006 04:16:00 AM  
Blogger Anduin said...

Yeah, I'm wondering what it was that you were squeezing to cause it to squirt across the room. I'm sooo glad to hear that it didn't hit you. Have you ever had that happen? Like full on in the face? Ewww...

2/03/2006 06:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Stamper in CA said...

I guess the fact that no one has yet to comment on the tampons and other "stuff" found in various body cavities makes me an innocent, but how stupid do you have to be not to know you don't leave tampons "up there"?
The pus squirting your poor nurse....double euuu.

2/03/2006 06:31:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Gal said...

I think the happiest moment of my Christmas break came December 26 when the doc across the street removed a pencil eraser-sized ball of wax from my 3yo's infected ear. NOW we could get the Oticaine in! She slept! She didn't cry! She was a happy toddler again! and I was one grateful mom. You're not just dealing with pus and wax, you are providing real relief from pain.

2/03/2006 06:43:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Gal said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2/03/2006 06:43:00 AM  
Blogger Pat Kirby said...

Shrug. I'm a horse owner and hence, witness to the most accident prone species on Earth. Seeping, revolting wounds are common with equines.

Puss, smuss, no biggie.

2/03/2006 07:21:00 AM  
Blogger Robot Buddha said...

Um... I have this friend, and um, he accidently left a tampon he was experimenting with in his butt, and my friend can't get it out now...and this friend was wondering...

2/03/2006 08:05:00 AM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Wow! Pus is popular!

Crystal, everyone has their gross-out special du jour. Bad breath laced with alcohol and blood is my own personal heave-ho.

Jona, here's a short list: abscesses anywhere on the scalp, face, or neck; peritonsillar abscesses; deep neck abscesses.

PBW: I can imagine very well, thanks ;o)

Anduin, no, I've never once been nailed. I have been barfed on, however. Twice.

Sis: she didn't get it on her. She just objected to the aroma.

Blue gal, thanks ;o)

Pat: I'll try harder next time.

Rob: like the new pic. Consider tongs.

2/03/2006 08:40:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Gal said...

Robot you crack me up.

2/03/2006 08:53:00 AM  
Blogger mm said...

When my dog became elderly she made very stinky carpet messes. I used vick's vaporub under the nose to make the cleanup bearable. I learned that from Silence of the Lambs. See - Horror movies can be educational.

2/03/2006 09:12:00 AM  
Blogger Kris Starr said...

Bravo, Doug! Ninety-nine percent of the time it is nigh impossible to gross me out. (I mean, really -- is there anything worse than toddler puke consisting of curdled milk??) You just struck it rich with the one percenter. Congrats.


K., off to very quickly read something else to get this out of my brain.

2/03/2006 09:28:00 AM  
Blogger Shelbi said...

My mom was a nurse, so hearing about pus and strange items in the nether regions never bothered me.

When I went to nursing school, I was mentally prepared for the nasties, but vomit completely grossed me out.

Until I had kids. Now I can fling puke, snot, and poo with the best of 'em. I dunno about pus, though, we've been blessedly deprived of infected wounds in our house, and I ain't gripin' a bit!

2/03/2006 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Heh heh, Maureen, I learned how to swear watching Linda Blair in The Exorcist.

And it keeps getting funnier every time.

-Michael Keaton, Beetlejuice

2/03/2006 12:25:00 PM  
Blogger Gabriele C. said...

Hehe, admit that you not only get things out of peoples' ears, you also shove things into peoples' noses.

2/03/2006 01:53:00 PM  
Blogger Shelbi said...

Hey Doug,

It looks like Blogger won't let me comment on your posts from today. I get a message saying they couldn't fulfill my request. Whatever that means.

Also, I checked at my blogs, and when I did a test post, it ate my posts from last night.

I got an e-mail from a friend who couldn't post comments on my blog, either.

Freakin' weird!

2/04/2006 12:24:00 PM  
Blogger The Platypus Pool said...

I have never seen such a detailed dissertation on pus in my life.

My problem is while I was reading it, the Spam song from Monty Python kept running through my head, only it was more like, "Lovely Pus, wonderful pus...." But you get the idea.

I tried to post this last night and your blog was eating posts. I was also having problems connecting. It kept giving me the "Forbidden Access" error. I thought it was just me, but I'm relieved that it wasn't.

You're right about one thing though. When an abcess clears there is a moment of such pristine and shining relief that you feel almost dizzy with happiness. A definite crowd pleaser.

Of course if you were to run through a crowd lancing abcesses willy nilly, that might cause a variety of problems that even the relief of pressure would not alleviate. But maybe if you hummed the Spam song it would help with that.

Very good blog. Do you mind if we blog roll you?


2/04/2006 07:51:00 PM  
Blogger Kate R said...

best phrase of the day:
lancing abcesses willy nilly.

Actually I think a lot of good phrases include "willy nilly". A little bit goes a long way.

speaking of language . . .I'm so proud. Today my son used the words "hoi polloi" and "penultimate" and used them correctly, too.

2/04/2006 07:59:00 PM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Hi folks. Yes, it looks like blogger is eating all my posts -- three, and counting, that I've posted since this one. I'm not going to try any more until it looks like Blogger has fixed itself.

In the meantime, I am going to download that program Pat J. and Dean use for their blogs. Can't remember the name. I'll figure it out.

2/04/2006 08:04:00 PM  
Blogger Mary Stella said...

The wintergreen use reminds me of that scene in Silence of the Lambs where they all glob Vicks Vapor Rub under their nostrils before examing the body.

2/07/2006 06:30:00 PM  
Blogger Reese said...


I can't believe I actually read this post from beginning to end. My knowledge of medicine is this: People Have Innards.

Lovely job with your blog, BTW. Thanks.

2/08/2006 01:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One time I had a root canal which blew up my entire face with puss. I looked like a sloth on Goonies.
They opened it back up and squeezed my face. That was by far the grossest smell I ever produced thus far.

12/06/2006 09:39:00 AM  
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

You could always try the Pinetree air freshener around the head and under the nose like Martin Lawrence in the movie National Security!

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