THE ANTIBODY: A super short story series. Teeny-tiny anti-anxiety laughs for tough times.
3 minute read
“Forty-five year old man with acute abdominal pain…. Oyetewa, do you want to take this new patient?” the resident asked me.
“Yes, of course!” I said with my best fake smile. As though I have a choice.
I was a third year medical student at the time, on my first rotation: Surgery. For the past two weeks, the other students and I had been working like indentured servants… We woke up at 3:45 each morning to get to the hospital by 4:30, retrieve morning labs and see patients before rounds at 6 AM. Then we waited for residents to assign us to surgeries for the day, where we would stand on our feet for hours, watching procedures from obscure corners of the operating room. IF WE WERE LUCKY, a surgeon would actually let us get close enough to see what was going on. If we were blessed by an angel, the surgeon might let us hold a retractor or suck up blood from the surgical field. Our days would end around 7pm, and we would rush home to study and jump into bed before doing it all again the next day. We were a confusing mix of exhausted and excited to finally be learning “real medicine”.
When I got to the patient’s room, I found a total circus. The patient, a tall man with strikingly blonde hair, lay on the bed in fetal position. A brunette woman with olive skin and tired eyes sat in the chair next to the bed yelling at the three unruly children laughing and running around. I introduced myself as the medical student and asked a few questions before attempting to examine the patient’s abdomen.
“AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH SH*T THAT HURTS!!!!” The patient yelled. I jumped back because let’s be clear… I had no idea what I was doing.
Oh no, what did I do? I should get the resident before messing this up!
I returned to the patient’s room a few moments later with my resident, who asked the patient when the pain started.
“Uhhh…. it… uhhhh…..” the patient looked nervously at his wife. “It started like, uhh, 3 hours ago, right babe? Yeah.”
“Yeah,” she responded dryly, pulling one of the children from underneath the examination table. “You fell in the shower, remember? Isn’t that what you told me?”
“Yes. Yes. I fell in the shower.” The patient winced.
“What hit the ground when you fell? Your bottom? Shoulder?” The resident prodded.
“Yeah, I uhhhhhh…. You know… I… fell on my ass.” The patient looked directly at my resident with pleading eyes.
“I see…” The resident turned to the patient’s wife and said, “Ma’am do you think you can step out with the children? I’d like to examine your husband’s bottom.”
“No… No, I’d like to be in here. Those kids will be a nightmare in the hallway. I’ll stay right here, it’s not like I haven’t seen his ass before.” She forced a dry chuckle. “Right, babe?”
The patient looked like he might cry. “Right,” he gulped. “Ofcourse you should stay, honey.”
We proceeded to examine the patient’s anus, which looked irritated and red. The resident attempted to ask the patient more questions about the pain, and the patient avoided directly answering a single one.
We eventually decided to send the patient for an abdominal x-ray. The radiologist called us back shortly saying, “You all should come to the reading room…You have to see this!”
To our surprise, the x-ray showed….*DRUM ROLLLLLLL* a bottle shaped structure firmly lodged in the patient’s rectum.
As we got the patient away from his wife to prepare him for surgery to remove the bottle, the resident attempted to ask the patient more questions.
“I… really did, you know. Fall… I mean… in the shower. On the bottle… it was an accident!!!” The patient was beet red and sweating bullets.
The resident looked at me and winked. I swallowed the giggle that was tempting to emerge from my throat.
That afternoon was the most interesting one on surgery up to that point. The patient was taken to the operating room and the surgeon used the largest forceps I had ever seen to pull the bottle (a very large bottle, I might add) out through the patient’s anus. The bottle cracked as it was coming out and the air in the operating room was immediately filled with the lovely smell of…
“Aftershave.” The surgeon shook his head and the room was filled with “OOOHHHHHs” and “GAHHHHHs” from the operating room staff.
“They always ‘fall in the shower’,” the surgeon sighed as he finished up. “I don’t know why they won’t just tell their wives they like a little anal stimulation….” he mumbled.
A few hours later, I headed home as I always did. In bed by 8 PM to be up by 3:45 AM… cause you truly never knew what to expect on a day in Surgery.
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Disclaimer: All names, dates, diseases, or any other identifying details of patients and healthcare providers in my stories have been changed to protect their privacy.