Medicine rules (or why Ann Summers is safer than your garden for a cheap night in)

When anyone asks me what I’ve learnt since starting medicine, my first thought is “Don’t do medicine.” After I’ve pissed all my mates off for being a moany junior doctor, I answer thusly.


Rule 1

Don’t use a knife to get a stone out of an avocado.


Every single day of my A&E rotation someone would pitch up, clutching a bloody tea towel around their hand, cursing the day they decided to make a posh salad.   You’ve probably come close to this yourself when you’ve thought “oh, this one’s a bit under-ripe”, and then narrowly missed plunging a knife at least part of the way through your palm, while stoning an avocado. Ok, the high levels of avocado injury may have something to do with the location of my hospital, in a posh London borough, but I’d seen a fair number at my previous hospital, in a downtrodden suburban backwater. And it wasn’t just clueless students. Chefs, caterers and housewives alike, no one was safe from the curse of the avocado knife. I’ve seen tendons and nerves severed, just because someone wanted a bit of something fancy in their salad. So use a spoon, people.


Rule 2

Kids and magnets don’t mix


Got kids? Lose the magnets. On my first day of my paeds rotation, when I didn’t know my (small) arse from my (small) elbow, I watched, dumbstruck with shock as a little boy threw up most of his blood volume after swallowing 2 magnets.


It’s fine if your kid swallows one magnet. But the problem comes when they swallow two. The magnets have a tendency to become separated, and then, as they snake their way down the intestine, they become attracted to one another through the fragile bowel wall. They pull towards each other, and then they tear through the wall, and then the (small) patient starts bleeding into their (tiny) abdomen. And when that happens it’s terrifying. The only thing you can do is open up their bellies and try and remove the magnets, and sew up the hole that they have created. The problem is that surgical instruments are made of metal, and so, as you are operating, the magnets jump towards the instruments, making it extremely difficult to operate safely.


So those fridge magnets may look cute, and now you’re going to have to find somewhere else to put the wedding invites and shopping lists. But please, bin the magnets until your kids are old enough to stop putting random shit in their mouth and swallowing.


Rule 3

If you’re going to put something up your arse, don’t let go.


Every A&E doctor worth their salt has heard the “I fell on it” excuse. I mean really people. We’re all adults. If you want to put something up your rectum, then go ahead. Ideally you use something specifically created for the purpose, and not a vegetable, or something that can shatter. But for the love of all things, please keep a tight hold of it. You don’t want a fun night in to end in you lying on an operating table, with your belly being sliced open so we can retrieve the item that has slipped into your intestine. While we’re at it – please don’t shoot water under pressure up that particular orifice. It can pop your bowel – and you might end up pooing into a bag for the rest of your life. Oh – one final plea – it’s ok to admit you put something up there intentionally, because you like the way it feels. We won’t judge you. We’ve seen it all before. Saying you fell on it is just a bit embarrassing for everyone.  So man up, admit the truth, and lets just get on with playing ‘find the courgette’, Ok?


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