You’ve got to laugh at a book by an author who would dedicate it “To my wife, Heather, who keeps her 31-year-old tonsils in a jar in our living room.” Rocky Lang -- the spouse of the tonsil exhibitor -- and Dr. Erick Montero wrote “Confessions of Emergency Room Doctors.” The book’s publisher, Andrews McMeel, calls it a collection of “strange medical abnormalities, hilarious patient-mix-ups, and hunky doctors sharing real-life experiences.”
You’ve got to laugh at a book by an author who would dedicate it “To my wife, Heather, who keeps her 31-year-old tonsils in a jar in our living room.”
Rocky Lang -- the spouse of the tonsil exhibitor -- and Dr. Erick Montero wrote “Confessions of Emergency Room Doctors.” The book’s publisher, Andrews McMeel, calls it a collection of “strange medical abnormalities, hilarious patient-mix-ups, and hunky doctors sharing real-life experiences.”
“You see all kinds of people in the ER. One night a very loud drunk showed up with some bruises after falling down,” a registered nurse from Ohio told the authors. “During the evaluation, he announced to the entire team that he was a secret agent working for the CIA. The trauma chief leaned down to the patient and quietly said, ‘Aren’t you supposed to keep that information secret?’ The patient replied, ‘Oh yeah!’”
Laughter, best medicine
Emergency rooms, apparently, are very funny places.
Lang, a film producer, and Montero, a surgeon, think so. Others in the medical profession agree.
“I saw a lot of things in the emergency room and in my private practice,” one doctor said, “but I guess the most ridiculous thing was when a 27-year-old male came in at 2 a.m. with a complaint of lint in his belly button.”
It probably shouldn’t surprise us that incidents that are silly or strange happen so frequently in a department of the hospital that is more known for dealing with serious medical conditions. According to the book, an estimated 107 million Americans needed to visit an emergency room last year. Not all of the visits are tragic.
“A guy comes into the ER complaining of pain. ‘It’s everywhere, doc.’ He pushes his side, ‘It hurts when I press here.’ Then he pushes down on his leg. ‘It hurts here, too.’ Now, I’m watching him and how he presses his arm. ‘It hurts here.’ I looked at him and said, ‘Hey dude, your finger is broken.’ ”
If that sounds like a joke likely to be repeated often by emergency room doctors gathering late in the hospital cafeteria, you may be an astute observer of humor.
“We have done our best to verify stories that were not based on the personal experiences of the doctors who told the stories to us,” they write at the beginning of the book. “Not every story was verifiable, however, and some of them may be ‘urban legends.’”
The authors don’t seem to care. A guess is they subscribe to the Readers Digest theory of humor, and are prescribing a healthy dose of laughter as the best medicine for readers.
But, it isn’t just the patients who say funny things. Medical records show that emergency room personnel sometimes word hospital reports in an amusing manner. “She is numb from her toes down,” one report documented. The “patient was alert and unresponsive,” observed another. “The skin was moist and dry,” said a third record, while a fourth claimed that an emergency room patient suffered from “occasional, constant, infrequent headaches.” Huh?
“The patient left the hospital feeling much better,” reported yet another record, before adding, “except for her original complaints.”
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