Mary: "Hello. Since you're a new patient, I'll need you to fill out this form... Here's a pen..."
Guy: "Oh my God! Can you smell the mold in here?!!!"
Mary: "Excuse me?"
Guy: "It's horrible! It's overpowering! How can you can work in here?" (whips out handkerchief, covers nose and mouth)
Mary: "I'm sorry, I don't notice anything... I'll also need a copy of your insurance card."
Guy: (talking through handkerchief) "You must be used to it. I'm amazed you haven't died. I don't want to fill out the forms, I'm sure the pen and clipboard are covered with mold. In fact, I can see it. Can you fill them out for me? You may be immune to it."
Mary: "Okay... but I'll need a minute. First I have to copy your card, and answer that call, and check out the person the doctor just finished with, and..."
Guy: "You want to do all that crap? I could die at any minute from all the mold in your filthy building! I bet it's never even been tested. I can't sit in here and wait to see your doctor! This building is a death trap."
Yes, with the clock ticking down toward one of the most important birthdays in human history (Sir Isaac Newton, born December 25, 1642) it's time for...
Dr. Grumpy's annual holiday gift guide!
For those of you interested in fine merchandise featured in the past, please click here
I'm going to start things off this year with a gift that solves a common argument in modern households:
Him: "We need a new alarm clock."
Her: "I need a new vibrator."
Well, now you can have BOTH! The Little Rooster is an alarm clock AND a vibrator!
Yes, ladies, with this remarkable product you just set the time you want to wake up, put it in your panties, and go to bed (I suppose guys can use it, too, but the sensation isn't the same).
It has 2 motors with 30 different power levels (of which 27 are "silent"- though I don't know if that applies to the gadget, its user, or both) and features a "snorgasm" switch (I SWEAR!) for when you want to go back to sleep.
If you wake up at night wondering what time it is, no need to look at the nightstand: Now you can simply check your crotch!
The site notes it can also be used as a regular alarm clock "for when you simply have to wake up feeling grumpy." I'll let Mrs. Grumpy know.
It's available for $99 in both pink and white, has a "travel lock," and comes with a USB charging cable.
Dr. Grumpy: "Any other issues we didn't talk about?"
Mr. Huh: "No, I think you've covered everything you have, and you haven't covered
anything you shouldn't, and everything that you didn't cover wasn't
mentioned. So, I think we haven't talked about anything that wasn't
I'm with a patient, when Mary appears in the doorway.
Mary: "Excuse me, but there's a Dr. Fuchs on the phone. He says he's a radiologist, and needs to speak with you urgently."
Dr. Grumpy: "Okay" (looks at patient and starts to pick up phone) "Excuse me for a sec... Hello, this is Ibee Grumpy."
Dr. Fuchs: "Hi, this is Roy Fuchs, I'm a radiologist in north Grumpyville."
Dr. Grumpy: "What can I do for you? Is one of my patients at your place?"
Dr. Fuchs: "Not yet, but that's why I'm calling you. My brother Luke, who's also a radiologist, and I just bought a used MRI and have set up our own imaging facility. I was wondering if I could come by your office in a few minutes to give you some info about it."
Dr. Grumpy: "I'm booked up with patients today, and..."
Dr. Fuchs: "I'm sure they won't mind waiting a little longer, knowing that your time hearing about our MRI is in their best interests."
Dr. Grumpy: "Wait... but you told my staff you needed to talk to me urgently?"
Dr. Fuchs: "Well, I'm on my way to your area, and thought you'd want to know about our facility before you order any more studies. So what do you say? Can I get you something from Starbucks?"
Dr. Grumpy: "Don't bother." (hangs up) "I'm terribly sorry, Mrs. Patient, now back to your medications..."
Okay, so I'm sure a lot of people left us on November 23rd, 1983. But this man deserves to be commemorated. Not for how he lived, but how he died.
James "Jimmy the Beard" Ferrozzo was 40 years old, but had a tough reputation from working in the strip clubs of San Francisco's North Beach area. At the time of his death he was the assistant manager of The Condor Club, which remains in operation today.
The Condor was America's first topless club, and was made famous by Carol Doda. She was among the first topless dancers (and definitely the first bottomless) in the area, and unquestionably one of the most famous strippers ever. She built the reputation of the club (which hosted several visiting dignitaries during the 1964 Republican convention), and for many years The Condor's sign featured a full length picture of her with flashing red lights on her silicone-enhanced size 44 chest.
Her act began in dramatic fashion. She'd enter the theater from above, lying on a white, velvet-covered baby grand piano. It slowly descended from the ceiling and moved to the stage, where she took it off- all off.
Back to my story:
We don't know exactly what happened on that fateful night 29 years ago, between The Condor Club's closing time and when a janitor came to clean up in the morning.
James Ferrozzo was dating a 23 year old stripper named Teresa Hill. Sometime after the club closed the 2 of them climbed on top of the piano, I assume to make sure it was tuned. They apparently hadn't started, as his body was fully clothed when found (she wasn't wearing quite as much).
Somehow, likely due to their legs hitting the switch, the piano turned on, and began rising toward the ceiling. Distracted with other activities, neither Mr. Ferrozzo nor Miss Hill noticed the slow change in altitude.
When the janitor arrived at 7:00 that morning, he heard Mrs. Hill screaming and called the San Francisco police and fire department.
James Ferrozzo was dead, crushed against the ceiling, and was still on top of Miss Hill, who was lying on the piano.
Miss Hill was alive, but trapped. Attempts to lower the piano were unsuccessful, as its motor had burned out during the night. The fire department had to destroy it in order to free the young lady. She was taken to a local hospital, and treated for bruises.
Due to intoxication, Miss Hill had no recollection of the evening's events, or even of getting on the piano at all. She remembered having been in the club that night, and then waking up pinned between the late Mr. Ferrozzo and the piano.
Mr. Ferrozzo was determined to have died of asphyxiation from being crushed between the club's ceiling, a nude dancer, and a moving velvet-covered piano. His large frame (6'2", 220 lbs.) is likely what saved Miss Hill's life, as it provided several inches of cushioning between her and the roof.
Today Carol Doda runs a lingerie shop in San Francisco, and still performs as a singer/dancer (with her clothes on) at local restaurants.
Teresa Hill vanished into anonymity, and likely lives in modern suburbia. She's probably grateful not to remember much of the night, and may not own a piano.
The Condor Club is still in business, albeit after some ownership changes. The drink menu now includes a concoction named "Sex on the Piano" in Mr. Ferrozzo's memory.
Last Friday Frank had a cold, and got sent home from school. My office is near Wingnut Elementary, so during a break in the action I picked him up and put him in the back office with stuff to keep him busy.
Since he had a low grade fever I got some Tylenol out of my desk and had him take it. I asked if he needed a Diet Coke to wash it down, but he said no. He pulled a store bottle of chocolate milk out of his backpack and drank most of it while swallowing them.
Dr. Grumpy: "Did mom buy you that this morning?"
Frank: "No, I traded Matt for it at lunch last week."
Dr. Grumpy: "LAST WEEK?"
Frank: "Don't worry. It's been in my backpack the whole time, and almost always inside."
Veteran's day is to thank those who have served the militaries of our respective countries. We throw parades, hold services, and honor our warriors in many ways. But it should never be forgotten that not all veterans walk upright.
Sergeant Stubby, United States Army
No one knew when or where he was born. In common terms he was just a stray dog.
It was an early morning in 1917 at Yale Field in Connecticut. The area had been taken over by the U.S. Army for training, and a group of young soldiers was there, preparing for World War I across the Atlantic.
At some point a medium-sized dog wandered onto the field, and took an interest in the young men. They befriended each other, and Private J. Robert Conroy liked him enough to take back to their base that night.
The dog, though officially not supposed to be there, quickly became a part of the camp. He got used to the daily routine of orders and bugle calls. He even learned to salute: when he saw humans all doing it around him, he'd put his right paw on his eyebrow.
Eventually Conroy and his division were ready to ship out for the war in Europe. Rather than abandon the dog (now named Stubby) they smuggled him (under coats) aboard the troopship S.S. Minnesota for the journey across the sea.
Stubby turned out to be far more of a dog than his finders ever expected. Staying with his owners, he served in combat in France. He lived in the frontline trenches with the 26th Infantry (102nd division), for over 18 months. His first battle was in February, 1918, and overall he fought in 4 major offenses and 18 ground battles.
Frontline trench warfare is a nightmare, but Stubby, like his fellow soldiers, learned to live with it. At one point his position was under 24-hour continuous enemy gunfire and shelling for over a month. He never deserted his company or position.
In April, 1918, he was wounded by an enemy hand grenade, and sent to Red Cross facilities. While recovering he improved morale there by routinely visiting other wounded soldiers. After healing he went back to his company in the front.
Later that year he miraculously survived a gas attack in the new era of chemical warfare (though was extremely ill for several days afterward). He quickly learned to recognize the smell long before his primate colleagues could. Later, when the Germans launched another surprise gas attack in the early morning, Stubby noticed it first. He ran through the trenches, barking and even biting his comrades to waken them so they could put on their masks. Since there were no gas mask to fit him, after spreading the alert he'd run out of range behind the trench and wait there until the all-clear was sounded.
His keen ears could hear the high-pitched whine of incoming shells before humans could, and his warning barks gave his friends an extra few precious seconds to take cover.
Stubby - of his own accord - undertook some of the most dangerous missions of the war, searching no-mans-land between trenches for wounded soldiers. He could differentiate between English and German speech, and successfully led medical teams to the injured. He also was able to lead dazed, but walking, soldiers back to safety. How many lives he saved is unknown.
Later, Stubby and his men were deployed to the battle of Argonne Forest. There, while walking around on his own, he single-handedly caught a German spy that had slipped behind allied lines to map their formations. Stubby detected him behind a bush, raised the alarm, and then detained him (by holding onto the back of his pants) until 2-legged soldiers could arrive.
For his remarkable heroism and skills, the commanding officer of the 102nd division recommended him for promotion, and Stubby became Sergeant Stubby - now outranking his owner, Corporal Conroy.
Stubby's remarkable skills extended beyond the battlefield. During a visit to Paris with Corporal Conroy, Stubby suddenly dashed out into traffic and saved a young girl who was about to be struck by a car.
After allied forces liberated the town of Château-Thierry, the local women made him a chamois coat. It kept him warm and was also used for his growing collection of medals, including the Purple Heart.
After the armistice, Corporal Conroy returned home with his friend. Stubby was now a celebrity, routinely leading parades. He met 3 Presidents and was made a life member of the American Foreign Legion and Red Cross. In one instance he received a distinguished service award, presented by no less than the fabled American General, John "Blackjack" Pershing.
Sergeant Stubby leading a victory parade. His heart was bigger than his body!
As the cheers faded the pair transitioned back to civilian life. Conroy enrolled in Georgetown law school, and Stubby found employment as the team's mascot. He often performed a football halftime show, pushing a ball around the field.
He died on March 16, 1926, with Conroy holding him. He is remembered by a brick at the World War I memorial and at the Smithsonian. The latter has his remains on display.
I am the very model of a modern Major-General.
I've information vegetable, animal, and extramarital
I know the men of power, and I quote affairs historical
From Clinton through to Spitzer, in order categorical
I'm very well acquainted, too, with matters infidelical
I understand positions, both the simple and quadratical.
About the bedroom theorem I'm teeming with a lot o' news,
With many cheerful facts about the secrets of my private muse.
I'm very good at integral and differential calculus;
I know the iPhone numbers of ladies infinitacus
In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and Sildenafil,
I am the very model of a modern Major-General.
I know our mythic history, Fatal Attraction and The Graduate;
I answer ads on Craigslist, I've a pretty taste to fornicate
I quote in hidden diaries my flings in far Arabious
When up-close I can tell peculiarities paralabious;
I can bounce undoubted playmates whilst on a waterbed afloat
I know the moaning chorus from my 8-track of ye olde Deep Throat
Then I can hum a fugue of which I've heard the panting din afore,
And secretly record them all with CIA gadgets galore.
Then I can put a lingerie bill on my private credit card
And teach you ev'ry detail of what it takes to get me hard
In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and genital,
I am the very model of a modern Major-General.
In fact, when I know the secrets of a Langley Hilton one-night-stand
When I can tell at sight a Trojan from a Durex lamb,
When at affairs as sorties and surprises is so fun to be,
And when I know precisely what is meant by "promiscuity"
When I have learnt what progress has been made in male gunnery,
When I know more of tactics than Hugh Hefner in a bunnery
In short, when I've a smattering of elemental adultery
You'll say a hotter Major-General has never before slept with thee.
For my orolingual knowledge, though I'm plucky and adventury,
For I have only been going down since the beginning of this century;
But still, in matters vegetable, animal, and extramarital,
I am the very model of a modern Major-General.
The above is only vaguely based on the recent events concerning General David Petraeus. It is not meant to be taken as anything other than silly satire, and a pathetic attempt to procrastinate on reading a pile of EEG's until tomorrow.
November 6 is always a day of special meaning to me. My first secretary (Kate) called it Independence Day.
It's the anniversary of my going into solo practice. Which, after many years, is still one of the best decisions of my life.
As most of you know, I started out with Humungous Neurology, but after a few years I got sick of endless partner meetings (AKA sociopath's roundtable), bizarre fluctuations in my allegedly fixed salary that no one could explain, office politics, and the utter bullshit that seems to come with a large medical practice. Accountants showing me charts of dollars earned vs. square footage of office space used per patient drove me nuts.
Most of the other docs at Humungous Neurology, Inc., told me I wouldn't make it on my own. That I'd be back soon. That there was no place in modern medicine for a solo doc.
But I left anyway. It was a gutsy move. I had a 1 year old. Mrs. Grumpy was pregnant with twins, and couldn't work. I hadn't run a business since age 12, when I sold used golf balls (I fished them out of a lake on a nearby course, and sold them from a card table to passing golfers). My dad helped me form a corporation, and connected me with a friendly accountant he knew.
Kate (who was here before Mary) and Annie came with me from Humungous Neurology, Inc. But my first receptionist was - my mom.
To add another item to the list of terrific things Mom has done, she became my first receptionist when Kate had to go out of town that first week. She patiently answered the phones and made notes in a scheduling book, while I frantically tried to get the phones and computers to work properly. I didn't see a single office patient that week due to a phone system meltdown (it traumatized me so much that I've never changed it since).
Kate left me after 4 years to take a job closer to her home. I was afraid I'd never replace her. I spent a sleepless night at home, and the next morning she introduced me to Mary, who she'd met working for another doctor in the building. She'd found her own awesome replacement in only one day. And Mary is still here, and still totally awesome.
Annie and I have now been together for a total of 14 years, and I can't imagine doing this without her.
I have no regrets about solo practice. It was a self-taught crash course in business: insurance, payroll, withholding taxes, purchasing supplies, etc. It certainly isn't for everyone. But when it's all said and done, I prefer this more than any group. Nobody argues with me about my choice of computers, or EMG machine, or ISP, or whatever. Nobody makes me look at Powerpoint presentations on lobby decor. And nobody shows me charts of dollars earned per square foot per patient.
I'm writing this to say "thank you" to those who have made it possible for me to be here: Annie, Kate, Mary, my parents, and (of course) Mrs. Grumpy. It takes a hell of a lot of patience (and too many other qualities to list) to put up with me.
And, of course, the patients. Without whom I'd have no practice or blog.
Dr. Grumpy: "I need a new iPhone case, one with a belt clip. Mine wore out and broke."
Commission Guy: "I can help you with that. You want one that lights up when you're talking?"
Dr. Grumpy: "No. Don't get me started on that."
Commission Guy: "All right, how about this one. It's on sale!"
Dr. Grumpy: "It's kind of thick... Not sure I need that."
Commission Guy: "It's a great deal, though! Normally $289, this week only $199!"
Dr. Grumpy: "ONLY $199? Uh, no, I just need something to protect it from scratches and stuff, like this $15 one here. Hey, do you have this kind in black? And with a belt clip?"
Commission Guy: "Yeah, but that won't protect your iPhone. You just said your last case broke. You need something sturdier."
Dr. Grumpy: "Maybe, but I'm not paying $199 for an iPhone case."
Commission Guy: "Your phone could get wet or dropped or something. Look at this case as an investment."
Dr. Grumpy: "Okay, I'm taking this one for $15 and going to check out. Thank you."
Commission Guy: "Wait! This $199 case is a great deal! It's bullet proof!"
Dr. Grumpy: "BULLET PROOF?"
Commission Guy: "Well, against a small caliber handgun, I mean. Couldn't you use that in an iPhone case?"
Dr. Grumpy: "I wear my phone on the right side of my belt. So, yes, if I'm worried about someone sneaking up and shooting me in the right hip I suppose it's useful. But I think I'll take my chances with the $15 case."
Commission Guy: "But..."
Dr. Grumpy: "Besides, if someone is shooting at me, the safety of my iPhone is the least of my worries." I left and went to another store, where I got a cheap case. Upon getting home my curiosity got the best of me, and I looked online. The only bullet proof iPhone case I found was $650, and didn't look anything like what he was trying to sell me.
And then I had these visions of Linda Carter, in a 1977 Wonder Woman outfit, using an iPhone instead of her magic bracelets to deflect bullets while fighting bad guys.
I was a Navy Seal. We trained in all kinds of stuff. I got crammed into
the torpedo tubes of a submarine to land on
enemy islands. I sat balled up in a fetal position for hours in the
dark cargo hold of a bomber to parachute out. I fought in combat in 2 wars. But holy shit, I couldn't handle that MRI to
save my life."
This blog is entirely for entertainment purposes. All posts about patients may be fictional, or be my experience, or were submitted by a reader, or any combination of the above. Factual statements may or may not be accurate.
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Cast of Characters:
Annie: My Phenomenal MA Mary: My Awesome Secretary Ed: The office fish Dr. Pissy: The guy I share an office with Mrs. Grumpy:My Boss (also the world's greatest school nurse) Frank, Craig, and Marie:The Grumpy Tribe Snowball & Mello: The Grumpy Dogs
Questions? Comments? Biting sarcasm? Write to: pagingdrgrumpy [at] gmail [dot] com
Note: I do not answer medical questions. If you are having a medical issue, see your own doctor. For all you know I'm really a Mongolian yak herder and have no medical training at all except in issues regarding the care and feeding of Mongolian yaks.