Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween Memories

A long time ago, in a medical office building far, far, away...

As my regular readers know, before I went solo I worked for a large group called Humungous Neurology, Incorporated (HNI).

I left them for a lot of reasons, one of which (as is usually the case) was money. I won't go into too many details, but when I left my "contract-guaranteed" salary had been slashed by roughly 75% (to less than I'd made as a resident) because the money was needed for "the research budget."

By coincidence, my last day working for HNI happened to fall on Halloween.

So that day I came to the office (with a full schedule of patients) wearing an old pair of pants that I'd used to paint the house, a shirt with holes in it, a sock on only 1 foot, a pair of badly mismatched rundown shoes, and, for the pièce de résistance, this horribly hideous 70's era tie that I found while cleaning stuff at my grandparents' house.

When people asked me what my costume was, I told them I was an HNI neurologist, who couldn't afford decent clothes.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Repeating oneself... a symptom of...

Medication list from a patient (highlights added).

For those not in the medbiz, Donepazil is used for Alzheimer's disease.

Thank you, Gary!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Skool Nerse time

This is Mrs. Grumpy.

Kid wanders into my office.

Nurse Grumpy: "What's up?"

Kid: (wailing) "I was playing in the sandbox and got sand all over my hands and under my fingernails!"

Nurse Grumpy: "Have you tried washing your hands?"

Kid: "Ummm... No."

Nurse Grumpy: "Go wash them in my sink over there. Use soap."

(Kid washes hands)

Kid: "It's all better now!"

Nurse Grumpy: "Okay, go have fun."

Kid: "I'm going back to the sandbox. What a neat trick!"

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Doctor's lounge, Sunday morning, 6:18 a.m.

Cardiologist: "The coffee machine is broken."

Neurosurgeon: "Ah shit. I really needed some, too."

Neurologist: "I don't think they come in on weekends to fix it, either."

Pulmonologist: "They don't. We're fucked."

Cardiologist: "Maybe we can do something..." (Opens front of machine).

Neurologist: "Wow, what a mess."

Neurosurgeon: "I think this thing that fell over holds the used grounds."

Neurologist: "Yeah." (dumps grounds in trash, rinses holder in sink, puts it back in machine).

Nothing happens.

Pulmonologist: "It's still not working."

Neurosurgeon: "Let me see... Here, look. The part that feeds the filter paper roll got doubled up and twisted. It's stuck."

Neurologist: "Hang on..." (pulls out filter paper roll) "Ah, okay, looks like it wasn't put in correctly. Let me turn it around and toss the jammed paper."

Machine starts gurgling.

Pulmonologist: "It's working! Yay! Coffee!"

(All get coffee)

Cardiologist: "That's amazing."

Neurosurgeon: "The coffee gadget?"

Cardiologist: "No. For the first time in medical history it was a neurosurgeon who made the correct diagnosis, and a neurologist who fixed it."

The pulmonologist blew her coffee all over the bagels.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Dog WIN!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Christmakuh is coming

So, if any of you guys have horrifying gift ideas you'd like to submit for this year's catalog, please send them in!

Friday, October 24, 2014

It's just a jump to the left

Seen in a cardiologist's hospital dictation:

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Dear American Medical Association,

Thank you for the brochure I received from you and Mercedes-Benz, making me aware of the great car deals available to physicians.

I'm glad to see the AMA is still living in some sort of fairytale land where doctors have money trees growing in their yards. This sort of stereotype only fuels the already crappy image the public has of us.

Here's the reality: In 2013 (my worst year ever, due to several factors) Dr. Grumpy's solo practice salary came out to $99,354. That's working 60-70 hours per week, with 4 weeks of vacation.

Now, I'm NOT (emphasize NOT) complaining or bragging. I'm just stating this as a fact, to make a point. I know there are MANY people who'd be grateful to be able to make that. I'm thrilled to have a job I like that allows me to support my family.

But the reality is this: I drive a 14 year-old Nissan Maxima with the passenger door smashed in. Sending me a booklet telling me that, as a "qualified physician," I can save $1000 off a $92,000 S-Class sedan, $3000 off a $72,100 CLS-Class coupe, $4000 off a $116,000 CL-Class coupe, $3000 off a $114,200 G-Class SUV, or $3000 off a $106,700 SL-Class roadster... just shows me how fucking incredibly out-of-touch you guys are with the reality facing today's doctors.

Granted, I'm not a member of your organization. Honestly, I'd rather spend the $420 annual fee on my kids. To the best of my knowledge, an AMA membership gets me a journal I don't have time to read, discounted admission to an annual meeting I won't go to, and, obviously, a token discount on a car I can't afford. In fact, if I was a member, I'd be pretty pissed to find out this is what you were spending my annual fees on: getting me a deal on an imported car that costs more than I made last year.

American medicine is in a serious crisis right now. I'm not going to take political sides, as there are plenty of blogs for that. But my point here is that you guys are obviously clueless as to how much docs are really making.

Not to mention medical students. The next generation of docs are coming out of school $200,000 in debt. Residency pays maybe $40,000 a year, and they're at the ages where they're starting families, buying first homes, etc. Then they get to go earn practice salaries that (like mine) are dropping each year. So realistically the only "luxury automobile" they'll get to ride in... is a hearse.

Note to medical students- if you're doing this thinking you're going to get rich, just stop now and cut your losses. In fact, I'd get out regardless of why you're doing this.

But, I'm glad to see you AMA guys are on the ball. I'm sure there are SOME doctors out there who can blow that kind of money on a car (likely all on your board of directors) and it's reassuring to know you're doing something to benefit them.

The rest of us hard-working docs trying to practice ethical front-line medicine will stick with our old cars with the sides smashed in.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

With a capital E

Mrs. Eword: "So, anyway, I want an MRI, and can do it today."

Dr. Grumpy: "I agree with getting one, but your insurance requires a pre-authorization. I'll have my staff get started on that, but it takes a few days and..."

Mrs. Eword: "I don't think you heard me. I want it NOW. While I'm here."

Dr. Grumpy: "Well, it has to be scheduled with an MRI facility and your insurance. I don't do them here."

Mrs. Eword: "What do you mean you don't do them here? You're a neurologist, aren't you?"

Dr. Grumpy: "Yes, and I order MRI's, but don't have the machine in my office. We use Local MRI, across the street and..."

Mrs. Eword: "I cannot believe this. What's that room I passed with the door closed down the hall here? There was a lot of noise. Isn't that your MRI?"

Dr. Grumpy: "Uh, that's the bathroom. They're replacing the sink's pipes today."

Mrs. Eword: "So you've been wasting my time this morning. Doesn't other peoples time mean anything to you? This is incredibly inconsiderate."

Dr. Grumpy: "I..."

Mrs. Eword: "I'll go elsewhere." (gets up, leaves)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Bite me

The kids had a healthy breakfast of Costco chocolate muffins yesterday, one of which had a minor defect.

But they felt the need to text it to me:

Monday, October 20, 2014


I'm with a patient, when Mary knocks on my office door.

Mary: "Dr. Schnozz is on the phone, says he needs to talk to you ASAP."

Dr. Grumpy: "Excuse me..." grabs phone "This is Dr. Grumpy."

Dr. Schnozz: "Hi, we have a mutual patient, Mr. Platelet, and he was here with his wife a short while ago for his sinuses. Anyway, I'm concerned he needs you to work him in urgently."

Dr. Grumpy: "What's up? I mean, he was just here this morning at 9:00."

Dr. Schnozz: "Really? They didn't mention that. Anyway, he's weak on his left side, and I'm worried he had a stroke."

Dr. Grumpy: "He DID have a stroke. I had him in the hospital last week for it, and I saw him today in follow-up. He's weak on the left, and I ordered physical therapy."

Dr. Schnozz: "They didn't tell me that either. Never mind."

Friday, October 17, 2014

Memories... part 3

Dr. Tallahatchie went home. Because he was unable to use stairs for several weeks, and his apartment building didn't have an elevator, he needed to find a place to stay that was on the first floor.

Which, as it turned out, was my apartment.

So, 3 of us went to his place to haul crap he needed for a few weeks to survive, like some clothes and CD's, over to my abode.

As he waited in the car, he suddenly realized he'd forgotten to tell us to get something else he needed: his comic book collection. So, grabbing his crutches, he got out and hobbled over to the staircase. Since we didn't respond to his yelling, he decided to try ascending a few stairs... and fell. Landing on his recently broken leg.

The leg, fortunately, was covered in such a huge cast that it was indestructible. But it still hurt like hell. We ran down the stairs to help him back up.

He was pale and looked quite uncomfortable. Without saying a word he reached into a pocket and pulled out the newly-filled bottle of Percocet we'd just picked up. He poured several into his mouth, chewed them up and swallowed, then hobbled back to the car.

All he said then was "Wake me when we get to your place."

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Memories... part 2

Dr. Tallahatchie, as anticipated, required a fairly lengthy surgical procedure. He'd broken his leg in 3 places, 1 of which was a compound fracture.

Even worse (from his view) was that they wouldn't let him smoke.

Recovery from this sort of thing is not painless. After surgery he was put on a morphine PCA pump. For those of you not in medicine, this is a gadget that delivers IV narcotics controlled by the hospital patient. You need more morphine? Press a button and it gives you some. The pump is programmed with a maximum amount and frequency you can receive, and is locked out with a security code.

20 years ago, however, the security codes were only 4 digits, and Dr. Tallahatchie had a photographic memory. After watching the nurse set it up, it took him only a few tries to hack it. Due to ongoing pain, he increased his morphine dose. This made him much more comfortable.

Nursing found him still breathing, but unable to be woken. The internal medicine service, comically, called for a neurology consult, and my colleague, Dr. Violet, told them exactly what the problem was.

So they took his PCA pump away. Since his vital signs were okay Violet didn't have the heart to use Narcan.

As a result of the overdose, the good doctor was now unable to pee, and so a foley catheter was ordered. His nurse started the procedure, only to be stopped when Dr. Tallahatchie suddenly became wide awake, sat-up, and yelled "HEY! THAT'S MY WINKIE!!!"

Although now more alert, he still couldn't run the water. And when the nurse came at him with the foley again, he asked her to give him a few minutes to "prepare himself."

She stepped out, and he frantically paged me, asking me to bring him a pair of sterile size 7 gloves. He didn't say why, but I realized what was up when I got there. He took the gloves and told me to distract the nurse for 5 more minutes. He wasn't going to let anyone touch his winkie.

When the nurse came back, she was stunned to see he'd put it in himself. Correctly.

Note: As of yesterday, Dr. Tallahatchie confirmed that (20 years later) he still smokes and drinks. He has not, however, attempted climbing a tree again.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Memories... part 1

One summer, a bunch of us neurology residents volunteered to work at a summer camp for teenagers with epilepsy.

This went well. Until the last day.

After the kids' bus had left, we learned the van coming for us had a mechanical issue, and would be delayed 4-5 hours.

So, with nothing better to do, we walked a mile to the nearest town, bought a shitload of cheap beer to carry back to camp, and got drunk. For those of you who are horrified, this is pretty standard. Medical residents are basically college students, but with more letters after their names.

This went well until our chief resident (Dr. Tallahatchie), the one in charge of showing us younger residents the proper way to do things and to lead by example... Decided to climb a large tree. This kind of decision (and the inevitable "Hey, everybody, watch this!") always seems to follow alcohol consumption. Especially when the person involved grew up in rural Mississippi.

In a bold display of intoxicated coordination, Dr. Tallahatchie climbed a tree about 15-20 feet up, then tried to swing across to a branch on it's neighbor. Which broke.

When we got to him, our chief resident was awake, still drunk, and had a broken bone sticking out of his right leg. The excessive alcohol probably helped, as he absently commented "boy, I sure fucked that up." He then pulled out a pack of cigarettes, began smoking, and pulled my beer out of my hand and finished it.

So we had several highly-trained medical people standing around, with no clue what to do for a compound fracture. I mean, if he'd had a stroke, or seizure, we might have had an idea. But we're neurologists, and don't know a damn thing about bones. None of us had a phone, either (this was the mid-90's) and the camp's office was locked. So, we threw some T-shirts on to absorb the blood, and Dr. Linn (who ran marathons often) bolted back to town to call an ambulance.

She also bought more beer.

When the paramedics arrived, they asked Dr. Tallahatchie to stop smoking for the ride back to Big City Hospital. He refused, and said he knew he'd be in the hospital for the next week and wouldn't be allowed to smoke there, so was going to keep puffing until they rolled him into ER. The sympathetic medic said "okay" and offered him a light. His partner went into the back of the truck to make sure their oxygen tank was closed and secured.

Our van didn't show up for another hour. We took Dr, Tallahatchie's suitcase with us. It was mostly full of comic books, which we read to pass the time.

To be continued...

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Skool Nerse time

This is Mrs. Grumpy.

Last week I had a sick 7 year old girl in my office. While she was waiting for her aunt to come get her, I was reading some reports and swearing at them.

Nurse Grumpy: "Oh, Jeez! What's does this mean?"

Daisy Mae: "NURSE GRUMPY! You shouldn't swear like that!"

Nurse Grumpy: "Huh?"

Daisy Mae: "You said part of a word you're not supposed to say!"

Nurse Grumpy: "Oh, sorry, Daisy Mae."


Daisy Mae: "Nurse Grumpy?"

Nurse Grumpy: "Yes?"

Daisy Mae: "I guess it could have been worse."

Nurse Grumpy: "I'm sure."

Daisy Mae: "I know the 'F' word."

Monday, October 13, 2014


Annie: "Dr. Grumpy's office, this is Annie."

Mrs. Cephalgia: "Hi, I'm a patient of Dr. Grumpy's, and want to go off my migraine medication. I haven't had a migraine since I reached menopause, and don't think I need it anymore."

Annie: "Okay, let me open your chart... When did you become menopausal?"

Mrs. Cephalgia: "Tuesday."

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Weekend reruns

Dr. Dickweed is an internist upstairs from me. He's been there since I moved into the building in 1997.

He's never referred to me. I'm polite. I've tried to talk to him in the elevator. When I started out years ago I went by his office asking for referrals. He coldly informed me that he doesn't trust, or refer to, physicians under 60 years old. Whatever. He's entitled to his opinion.

Anyway, Mary interrupted me today to say that Dr. Dickweed was on the phone. This was a first, so I picked up the phone.

Dr. Grumpy: "This is Dr. Grumpy."

Dr. Dickweed: "Grumpy, this is Dickweed. I just want you to know that I'm out of Grizzitor samples, and one of my patients needs some. I told her to come by your office to get them. Your staff doesn't need to schedule her for an appointment, and you don't need to see her. Just give her whatever Grizzitor samples you have."

Dr. Grumpy (somewhat taken aback by this kind request): "Dickweed, I'm out of Grizzitor samples. They stopped sampling it years ago."

Dr. Dickweed: "You young doctors are so fucking worthless." (click).

Friday, October 10, 2014

Quote of the day

"I'm allergic to all organisms that grow out of the ground."

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Wednesday night, 10:27 p.m.

Dr. Grumpy: "This is Dr. Grumpy, returning a page."

Mr. Molosser: "YEAH! You saw my daughter last week, she's in college up there, and I CAN'T BELIEVE WHAT YOU PRESCRIBED FOR HER MIGRAINES!!!"

Dr. Grumpy: "Um, sir, Migragone is a common treatment for migraines. It's been around for almost 20 years, and is pretty standard."

Mr. Molosser: "DON'T TELL ME THAT! I know medications! It's dangerous! It's experimental! I told her not to take it!"

Dr. Grumpy: "Are you a doctor?"

Mr. Molosser: "No, I manage a White Castle. And I'm having her find another neurologist. NOBODY treats my beautiful daughter like a guinea pig!"


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Parental abuse

My mom recently updated her phone to iOS 8, and texted to let me know.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

"Those better be some damn fine scrubs!"

Seen on Amazon:

"Not just polyester and rayon, they're ARTISANAL polyester and rayon."

Thank you, Helle!

Monday, October 6, 2014


I'm seeing the elderly Mrs. Cuticle, who's accompanied by her 2 adult daughters. We stopped talking for a few minutes so I could review records they'd brought, and...

Daughter 1: "When are you getting your nails done?"

Daughter 2: "I don't get my nails done. I've never liked it."

Daughter 1: "Well, you should. I mean, it's Autumn. I bet they could do them in some pretty seasonal colors."

Daughter 2: "I don't care, I don't want to get them done."

Daughter 1: "It helps them grow better."

Daughter 2: "It does not."

Daughter 1: "You'll look much nicer in church. It would really improve your appearance."

Daughter 2: "Are you calling me ugly?"

Daughter 1: "No, but you never..."

Daughter 2: "Zip it."

Daughter 1: "Mom, don't you think..."

Mrs. Cuticle: "Shut up. Why can't you ever NOT cause trouble?"

Daughter 1: "You always take her side."

Daughter 2: "Can you blame her?"

Mrs. Cuticle (whips out phone): "I'm calling Michael to give me a ride home. Both of you get out."

Daughter 1: "But Mom..."

Mrs. Cuticle: "Get out or you're grounded!"

Friday, October 3, 2014

Thursday afternoon whatever

Mrs. Dermtag: "There's a weird piece of skin on the back of my neck, so I'm having an autopsy tomorrow."

Dr. Grumpy: "You mean biopsy."

Mrs. Dermtag: "Whatever."

Thursday, October 2, 2014


Mary: "Dr. Grumpy's office, this is Mary."

Mr. Neuron: "Hi, I need to find out if I have brain atrophy. A friend said she saw something on TV about it."

Mary: "Okay, let me see... We have an appointment tomorrow afternoon at 4:00, or on Tuesday morning at 8:30, or..."

Mr. Neuron: "Can I just talk to the doc? Right now? On the phone?"

Mary: "You're not an established patient, sir, and he doesn't do that. I can certainly put you on the schedule, though."

Mr. Neuron: "But I don't need to come in. Can't he tell just from talking to me for a few minutes? Isn't checking for brain atrophy part of what neurologists do? It'll just take a few minutes, and I have time right now."

Mary: "I'm sorry, but you'll need to make an appointment to see the doctor. He doesn't do phone appointments, especially when he's never see you before."

(long pause)

Mr. Neuron: "You know, from seeing his name on the "Best Docs" list in Grumpyville Today magazine, I thought he'd be better than this."


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Doctors behaving badly

I'm with a patient when Mary knocks on my door.

Mary: "Dr. Tanned is on the phone, says he needs to talk to you."

Dr. Grumpy: "Okay. Sorry, Mrs. Patient, let me take this call..." (picks up phone) "This is Ibee Grumpy."

Dr. Tanned: "Hi, Ibee. Sorry to interrupt you, but I just wanted you to know my wife works in home mortgages, and would like your business. Have you considered refinancing? She can get you a great APR."

Dr. Grumpy: "Are you kidding me?"

Dr. Tanned: "Not at all. She's saved a lot of people money on their house payments, and..."

Dr. Grumpy: "I'm with a patient. I have to go."

Dr. Tanned: "I'll fax you..."

I hung up.

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