Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Close Encounters 3

The event I am about to describe is an occurrence that made me involuntarily twitch for the remainder of the hour, spontaneously shudder for days and induced an uncontrollable tremble I fear will be with me for the rest of my life. The cause? My husband added another day to my work schedule.

I still feel quite faint from the interaction.

It has taken me a few days to gather my thoughts on how to appropriately describe the final patient encounter that occurred in my husband’s medical practice last week because I have been distracted by the HUNDREDS of hours I will soon punch into the time clock. (Just for the record, we don’t really have a time clock in the office. That sentence was a visual entirely intended for my spouse.)

The final patient encounter from last week is not for the weak stomached. If you are like me and lack not only a medical background but also any interest in the various fluids a body can manufacture, this may be especially difficult for you to read. Unless of course, you are a nine-year-old boy, then you will think that the following account is altogether appropriate and beyond cool and may even try to re-enact the entire scenario for your friends at school.

A patient checked into our office last week carrying several clear ziploc bags down the hallway that leads into one of the exam rooms. Before I could stop my eyeballs from seeing and my feeble brain from understanding, I correctly identified various colors and lumps that are consistent with the mucous that has been known to soar from one’s nose or cleared from one’s throat (Otherwise known as snot. That’s for the nine-year-old boy.)

Before I continue, I want to fully acknowledge that mucous makes folks feel really bad. It makes me feel bad. When it is clogging up airways and noseways (yes, that’s a medical term – I’m sure of it) all you can think about is ridding your body immediately of the substance that Shrek likes to eat. In fact, I have now witnessed the lengths people will go to in an attempt to ensure that their physician understands, observes and dissects the innate evil that resides in their phlegm.


Allow me to offer a few friendly suggestions to consider before you feel compelled to blow the substance from your nose or clear the loogies from around your tonsils, rushing to your doctor’s office with the evidence bagged, tagged and ready to file in your chart:

1. If you describe the color of your mucous to your physician, it is unnecessary to actually bring it in for him to see. THE DOCTOR WILL BELIEVE YOU.

2. If, heaven forbid, you were to discover a foreign substance enveloped in the mucous, a detailed description of your discovery will suffice for any real life proof you could offer. THE DOCTOR WILL BELIEVE YOU.

3. If you were to recount the thickness of phlegm you are experiencing in your nose or throat, then said phlegm can remain inside of your body without actually exampling it for your physician. THE DOCTOR WILL BELIEVE YOU.

I asked my husband later how he reacts when presented with a bag of green, slimy fluids that I’m convinced God did not expect others to see. He responded, “I react the same way I do with all of my patients, regardless of whether they bring an item for show and tell or not. I listen to their concerns, nod my head empathetically and try to hold onto the contents of my stomach.”

I’m certain that I have now exhausted the topic of phlegm, as well as provided more information than you really wanted to know when perusing various blogs you hoped would bring a little joy. But now, at least, you know to save the ziplocs for your child’s lunch rather than for mucous storage, which is the way the Almighty intended. That’s biblical.

My blogging has made me an hour late for work that is going to result in a written reprimand filed in my records from the boss. (Or at the very least, a dramatic eye roll while looking at his watch.) Plus, all of this focus on mucous has made my throat feel funny. I think I need to clear it, drive to the office and show the remnants to my husband. Maybe he can put that in my records as well.


Work In Progress said...

I think I still have one to top the phlegm...I have had a little old lady to bring in medicine that she had retrieved after it had passed completely through the digestive system...I need not say anymore. However, before you judge her, she was quick to let me know that she had washed it off...
Still got that clog in your throat?

Joni said...


Nope. That story pretty much cleared it.

And the contents of my stomach.....


JMom said...

Oh. My. Word.

Joni said...


You said it best.


deann said...

I completely understand after having worked in a doctors office for seven years. Too many encounters I care to remember. I worked in Dermatology for most of those 7 and Internal Medicine for ohhhh 3 months. If I had my rathers...Dermatology trumps internal medicine anytime. One time cleaning up adult poop did it for me, not to mention the explosive noises after assisting in several colonoscopies. Need I say more???? I retired quite early thank you.

Anonymous said...

Moms think that the pediatrician needs to see the "weird" color poop in the diaper from a week ago. They think that it really, really helps with the diagnosis of fussiness or teething. I tell them to wrap it back up, the doctor will "certainly" want to see it. As I smile to myself...knowing the doctors hate that sh_ _!! msf