Friday, July 31, 2009

My Readers Write

Dr. Phil (I assume not THE Dr. Phil) wrote in today with this horrifying story. Which I think is certainly worthy of sharing with the rest of you. So take it away, Dr. Phil:

"The following story happened just this morning, and I thought I'd share it with you....

Jackie is our newest employee, staffing the front desk, fielding phone calls from crazy patients, checking in patients, and in general controlling the chaos and preventing riots on a daily basis (and, if we're lucky, she brings doughnuts on Fridays!).

This morning, a patient showed up and handed her a Sephora bag. She told Jackie she was dropping off some samples.

When Jackie saw the Sephora bag, she immediately got excited. Once the patient left, she started digging through it to examine the contents. The plastic containers in the bag didn't resemble the typical Sephora product packaging.........

Fortunately for Jackie, she didn't apply any lipstick or hand lotion, as the "samples" were of the stool variety.

Next time she brings in doughnuts I'm going to avoid the chocolate. Poor Jackie."

Thank you for this awesome story, Dr. Phil.

Jackie, welcome to the medical office world. If anyone brings in a sample that looks like apple juice, I wouldn't drink it.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Math Issues

I was reading some news stories this evening, and found these remarkable poll results. The study is still in progress, so I have no idea how much sillier they'll get.

I think spending money on math lessons sounds a bit smarter at this point.

Fond Memories

A while back........

Pattie, RN’s comment on this recent post led me to remember this story:

As my regular readers know, I have boy/girl twins (Craig and Marie).

Years ago, just after they were born, I was talking to a drug rep. My secretary had mentioned to him that I had twins, and so he was asking about them.

Mr. Drugrep: “So it’s a boy and a girl?”

Dr. Grumpy: "Yes."

Mr. Drugrep: “Are they fraternal or identical?”

To my staffs’ horror, and with a straight face, I immediately said “identical”, whereupon he humiliated himself even further.

Mr. Drugrep: “Wow! That is just so cool. So they look alike?”

Dr. Grumpy: “Yes.”

Mr. Drugrep: “And so, even though they're a boy and a girl, they will always look exactly alike?”

Dr. Grumpy: “Yes”.

Mr. Drugrep: “That is so neat. I’ll have to tell my wife about that tonight”.

When he left the office I told Mary that his wife will think that he either calls on the stupidest people in the world, or that she married one of them, or both.

Unfortunately, he got transferred to another territory 2 weeks later, and so I never saw him again.

Thanks, Ron

I got this voicemail last night at 6:45:

"Hi, this is Ron, at Local Pharmacy. An amazingly clueless patient of yours is here now, asking for a medication refill. She doesn't know what it's called, or why she takes it. If you have any idea, please call me."

Nice to know my patients are driving others nuts, too. I'd hate to think I was hogging it all.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Mrs. X: "Is my muscle disease hereditary? Because I'm worried about my kids getting it."

Dr. Grumpy: "No, it's not." (pause) "I thought you once told me all your children were adopted?"

Mrs. X: "They are. So?"

Attention Patients

Leaving the following voicemail message for my nurse is NOT helpful:

"I have pain! Please call me back!"

If this was you, leaving your name and/or phone number in the future would be helpful. We do not have caller ID (if we did my staff wouldn't answer the phones at all).

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

New Olympic Sport

When I got home today all 3 kids were playing Wii "Dance Dance Revolution" on a difficult setting to a fast song. They each were on a dance mat, and were wildly trying to keep up.

I thought it looked like a new sport for the Neurology Olympics: Synchronized Seizing.


What is a Dragonism? I'm not sure who came up with the word, but think it was my old chairman, Bob (who I doubt reads this, but if you do, I'm crediting this to you).

A Dragonism is an unintentionally comical error made by voice recognition (VR) software. Many physicians, including myself, use them for dictating. The programs are great, they don't make spelling errors, BUT (and this is HUGE) they often mistake one word for another, especially when the words are long, or you're talking too fast, or they just want to piss you off. Usually they're simply stupid, but occasionally can be quite hilarious.

This is why it's CRITICALLY IMPORTANT for anyone using VR dictation to proofread VERY VERY CAREFULLY. Because many physicians don't. If you're one of them, I've seen your notes. They look like crap, and make you sound like a complete idiot.

The word Dragonism was coined because Bob used Dragon Dictate, which remains the most commonly used program of this type. Dragonisms, however, are NOT restricted only to Dragon Dictate. They also occur with it's competitors, such as ViaVoice and iListen. I've used all 3 at various times. Dragonisms just sounds so much better then "ViaVoicisms" or "iListenisms".

Anyway, today my VR system was out to aggravate me, and coughed up 3 gems:

Dr. Grumpy said: "She has an upper respiratory infection."
The computer said: "She has an upper breast infection."

Dr. Grumpy said: "Her symptoms are likely from lumbar disease."
The Computer said: "Her symptoms are likely from Wal-Mart disease."

Dr. Grumpy said: "I've ordered an echocardiogram with bubble study."
The Computer said: "I've ordered an echocardiogram with Bible study."

Monday, July 27, 2009

Hello, Mrs. Geritol

Mrs. Geritol, I'm terribly sorry that my prescription for Vicodin didn't help your back pain and made you so sleepy.

In reviewing the shoebox full of medications you brought in today, it's now clear that you were really taking Valium instead. I was unaware that you had some, as it wasn't on the medication list you provided at your last visit. How you got it is anyone's guess, as it's actually in your husband's name, and the doctor who prescribed it retired and moved away in 2003.

I really do suggest you give the Vicodin another shot, especially considering that you haven't yet taken it in the first place.

I can understand you confusing the two medications, since they both begin with "V" and have 3 syllables. Anyone would have made the same mistake. I must suggest that you exercise caution in the future, as between you and your husband you also have prescriptions for Vytorin, Vagifem, and Viagra.

Thank you for coming in today. I need to go pull out my few remaining hairs now.

Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?

If I ordered physical therapy, and told you to come back afterwards to see how you were doing, DO NOT come back to me 4 weeks later, complaining of how you are no better WHEN YOU DIDN'T EVEN BOTHER TO GO TO THE FREAKIN' THERAPY.

Saying "I dunno" when I ask why you didn't go is NOT an acceptable answer.

Telling me you needed the co-pay money to buy cigarettes is not going to get you any sympathy, either.

Crazy Scale

I generally try not to steal from other bloggers, but this time I'm gonna have to.

ER's Mom wrote this excellent post a few weeks ago, and I just have to reprint it here. But I take no credit for it. It will, however, be remarkably useful in my practice (and likely most others).

Levels of Crazy

Been thinking about this for awhile. I now have the "ER's Mom Official Guidelines for Assigning Levels of Crazy".

1. Normal. They exist, even constitute the majority of patients. They make poor blog fodder however, so you wouldn't know that that they even exist from reading any medical blog.

2. Crazy. These are the "fun crazy" folks. A little off, but you don't cringe when you see them on the schedule.

3. Bat-shit crazy. Your stomach drops a little when you see the name on the schedule.

4. Fucking Nuts. These folks seem intent on driving YOU nuts too.

5. Mouth agape and head shaking. You are lost for words upon meeting these folks. Fortunately, they are rare.

ER's mom: Please don't be offended I used this. It was just too good not to share.

Monday Morning, 12:08 a.m.

My cell phone beeps. Someone has left this message:

"Hi, I have an appointment with Dr. Grumpy. I think it's this Monday, or maybe it's next Monday. Anyway, it's on some Monday, and I won't be able to make it. Thank you!"

And, of course, no name or number left.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Marie wanted to talk to my parents this morning, for whatever reason. So I dialed the phone and handed it to her.

After a pause, she said "Hi, it's Marie.... okay, Grandpa" and handed it back to me. She said my dad had answered and said he was busy, but would call her back.

After a while we didn't hear back from them, which is odd. So I called them, to find they'd just gotten in from shopping, and neither had spoken to Marie.

As it turned out, she'd reached their answering machine.

Intellectualism and Discount Retailing

We went to Target last night for some school clothes for the kids (we have SUCH exciting Saturday nights). At check-out Mrs. Grumpy had this discussion with the cashier:

Mr. Cashier: "Is it raining outside?"

Mrs. Grumpy: "No, just very cloudy."

Mr. Cashier: "Yet, I do sense the je ne' sais quoi of coming rain."

Saturday, July 25, 2009

My Readers Write

Scarlett was kind enough to send me this picture, which she says was taken in a doctor's office in the building where she works.

Except for the bottled water (maybe it's for the office staff?) I'd have to say this is a physician after my own heart. There's enough Diet Coke and Coke Zero there to hold me for at least 45 minutes.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Happy Friday

Driving home at the end of the work week, and my cell phone chimes. Someone left this message:

"Hi, I'm calling for Dr. Grumpy. I'm not a patient of yours, but I found your name on my insurance list. Can someone please call me back before dinner? I need to know if sandwiches left in my car for 15 minutes can still be eaten. Thank you."

Anatomy 101

Reviewing some records on one of today's patients. I found this note from another doctor:

"His numbness is in the right arm, covering the area from the thigh to the knee."

Thursday, July 23, 2009

My Readers Write

Wick, one of my readers, was kind enough to send in a story for a prescription recently handled at his pharmacy.

It was for the Nuva ring, (a rubbery ring with birth control hormones, that's placed intravaginally once a month).

The script was written for Nuva Ring, 1 po qD (that means 1 ring taken BY MOUTH each day).

What's scarier is that when Wick called the GYN's office to clarify this, the "nurse" there (could also be an MA or secretary for all I know) argued with him about how the Nuva ring should be used.

I can picture this happening:

Jenny: "Hey Suzy! What are you chewing?"

Suzy: "It's my new birth control gum!"

Jenny: "Wow! I had no idea there was such a thing!"

Suzy: "Yeah. It's kind of rubbery, and you wouldn't believe what the pharmacy idiot told me I was supposed to do with it! Good thing I called to ask my doctor's office what the right way to use it is!"

Death to Junkies!

I hate my junkies. I don't have many. Every doc has at least a few, and you just learn to deal with them. Some you created by accident (though your original intentions were good) and some you inherited from some other neurologist who had the audacity to die, retire, or move.

What drives me nuts, though, are the ones who come in that way, and try to play you from the word go. And today I had one.

He came in, and after listening to his pathetic story (complete with violin music) I ordered an MRI. He said he was claustrophobic, so I gave him a script for 2 Valium tablets.

After the appointment he walked out to the check-out desk, which is roughly 20 feet from my office. He then told my secretary that he'd lost the Valium script while walking up front, and could she write him a new one (last I checked, my staff ain't allowed to issue scripts for controlled substances).

So she said she'd go look for it, whereupon he suddenly "discovered" it was in his shirt pocket the whole time. Bozo. So he went on his way.

Within an hour Local Pharmacy had called me to query the script. The one that he brought to them was for 200 Valium tablets, not the 2 I'd written for. And was altered in a different ink color.

Sorry, dude. Game over. Go play with someone else.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I Don't Remember Who's Forgetting

Dr. Unka is in my office complex. When he refers a patient to me, he often walks them upstairs to my office and waits with them up front (while his own waiting room backs up) until Mary has scheduled the patient. He often asks that I drop everything I'm doing to come meet his new referral, instead of just having them call us to make an appointment.

So today Mary called me to say Dr. Unka was up front, and wanted me to come meet a new patient. So I excused myself from my current patient and went up front, to see him standing there with a familiar, somewhat irritated-looking, older lady.

Dr. Unka: "Ibee, I'd like you to meet Mrs. Ancient. I'm referring her for memory loss."

Dr. Grumpy: "Uh, I saw Mrs. Ancient 3 weeks ago for that."

Mrs. Ancient (glaring at Dr. Unka): "I told you! Why didn't you listen to me?"

Dr. Unka: "She did?"

Mrs. Ancient: "Yes!"

Dr. Grumpy: "Yes, I sent you a note."

Dr. Unka: "You did?"

Mrs. Ancient: "Yes! He did! It was even in my chart at your office! I pointed it out to you!"

Dr. Unka: "You did? Um, I mean, then have her make a follow-up." (leaves my office).

So in this situation, who REALLY needs to be seeing the neurologist?

Thanks. That Didn't Help AT ALL!!!

I had a hospital consult called in last night on a confused lady. So I stopped by to see her this morning.

Since the patient is confused, I do my usual assessment for orientation, memory, etc. When I walked into the room her nurse followed me. She was a new hire I'd never seen before.

So I went in, introduced myself to the patient, and started: "Mrs. Jones, do you know where you are right now?"

Before Mrs. Jones could answer Nurse Dingbat, with a look of astonishment, said "We are in the hospital, Doctor."

Today's Schedule

My secretary Mary types on the fly as she's talking to people on the phone and putting their info into the schedule. So occasionally something odd shows up. This is on today's schedule:

"9:00- Mike Smith. BCBS. Coming in because he works at the liquor store across the street."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tacos for 99 cents, IQ of Far Less

We like a local place's fish tacos, and Tuesdays are 99 cent fish taco days. So after picking up the kids at camp, I stopped to get a bunch (is school the plural for fish tacos?) for dinner.

My kids noticed a large fish tank inside and went to check it out. Frank yelled "Look Dad! A fish tank"

I said, "that's where they get the fish tacos from". Frank laughed and told me I was silly, while I went to order

The bozo at the cash register looked at me and said "Actually, sir, all our fish is from the ocean and delivered here. The ones in the aquarium are just for decoration".

Stupidity and Reproduction

Another fun morning at Grumpy Neurology, P.C.

Mrs. Dimbulb: "My husband and I want to have kids. How do my migraine pills affect that?"

Dr. Grumpy: "What sort of birth control are you using now?"

Mrs. Dimbulb: "What's birth control?"

Monday, July 20, 2009

Reasons Your Doctor is Prematurely Bald

The hospital I work out of has been transitioning over to an electronic chart system.

This morning, while back on rounds, I dialed in to the hospital system to dictate a consult. I was stunned to be told that my priviliges had been suspended while I was gone for delinquent medical records.

This was a shock, as I treat medical records with an obsession. Every Thursday I stop by medical records and ask if there's anything for me to sign. For the last 6 weeks the girl there has politely checked her computer, then said "Nope, thank you for checking".

So I promptly marched down there:

Dr. Grumpy: "Excuse me, do I have anything to sign today?"

Ms. Helpful: (looking at her computer) "Um, nope. Thank you for checking."

Dr. Grumpy: "Well, when I dialed in, it says I've been suspended for medical records delinquency."

Ms. Helpful: "That's correct. You have over 60 charts to complete, 28 of which are delinquent"

Dr. Grumpy: "WHAT!!! Then why didn't you tell me that?!!"

Ms. Helpful: "You only asked me if you had anything to sign. You have nothing to sign. We are all electronic records now. You don't actually sign anything."

Dr. Grumpy (in shock): "Okay... So how do I complete my records?"

Ms. Helpful: "You have to log into the e-Chart system."

Dr. Grumpy: "No one told me we'd completely switched to e-Charts, or that I had records to complete. How was I supposed to know this?"

Ms. Helpful: "Because the first time you sign in to e-Charts it tells you that".

No wonder my hairs are jumping off like lemmings.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Back to the Salt Mines

On the way home, and reviewing calls from the last 2 weeks that my nurse Annie had marked as "Extremely Non-Urgent". They include:

"Can I get a prescription so my insurance will pay for a Roomba? I'm too tired to vacuum anymore."

"Can a Wii cause Alzheimer's disease? Cause my Dad had played it with my kids the night before his appointment. Can I sue someone over this?"

"Does Dr. Grumpy recommend any particular grade schools in my area of town?" (WTF do people call with questions like this? Do I look like the Shell Answer Man?)

"Which of the summer movies is least likely to worsen my migraines?"

And, inevitably: "I haven't seen Dr. Grumpy since 2003, but can you guys call in some more Vicodin for me?"

And the insanity of my office begins again.

Grumpy Summer Vacation, Day 11

We were in Ensenada today, which was an alternate stop due to the hurricane earlier in the week. In my experience, the best part of docking here is not getting off the ship.

My first time here was when I was single in 1993. A girl I’d met and I decided to try the "Scenic Gold Coast" bus tour. It turned out to be a drive through one of the ugliest areas I've ever seen. I kept hoping we'd come to the scenic part soon, but the bus just stopped at a “deluxe resort” (which was a dump), we each got a glass of shitty watery beer, and then got driven back.

In 2003 Mrs. Grumpy didn't believe me and insisted on going on the same tour, and hasn't questioned my judgment since (about that, anyway).

For you guys considering it, this is the "olympic swimming pool" at the “deluxe resort” that the bus stops at, where they give you a thimbleful of crappy beer and try to sell you timeshares. And you've paid $50 per person for the pleasure. This is not a joke.

It’s a funny thing about Mexico. This is an amazing country. Oil and other natural resources. Phenomenal beaches. Rain forests. A remarkable cultural history. A geographically excellent position. And because of irreparable corruption it remains a third world country. If they could cut corruption and develop a Japanese-like work ethic, Mexico would be a world power rivaling any other.

Mrs. Grumpy and I were in line to get breakfast today, and the omelette cook asked her if we'd be going ashore. She said, “No, I've been to Ensenada once, and that was enough”. He said, “So go back today to make it 3 times”.

Good thing this guy isn’t an accountant.

Today is the last day of the cruise. There are a handful of ways you are reminded of this. The disembarkation talk. The elevator sign having been gradually changed each day from "Maximum: 3000 lbs. or 18 people" on day 1 to "Maximum: 3000 lbs or 8 people” today.

I feel SO fat and bloated. I think I gained 40 pounds. Everywhere you walk on board someone is setting up a new counter of incredible looking food, and you decide you just want a taste. I think I ate 50,000 calories of “tastes” per day. I can barely reach my shoes to tie them.

And, as I noted before, you see lovelorn teenagers walking around, looking for any quiet area to make out. So you occasionally have an elevator door open to find them frantically untangling themselves, or sit down at a table and accidentally step on a pair under it.

The gift shop always has these "last day specials", which they push as if the ship is being scrapped in the morning. They’re somewhat comical, considering that tomorrow the ship will be taking on 3000 new suckers, uh, shoppers, just dying to buy overpriced T-shirts and stuffed animals. Mrs. Grumpy briefly glanced at a canvas beach bag, and immediately an employee came over to try and sell it. She was awesome. "This very good deal, ma'am. Regular price $29.95! But today, just for today, is marked down to $24.95! That half-off!!!"

Good thing this girl isn’t an accountant, either.

After another round of minigolf (with Marie hitting a pair of teenagers making out on a bench 2 decks below) I took her to the bar for some Diet Cokes. We arrived in time to hear 2 mechanics and a bartender arguing about a broken refrigerator. It was great, especially when the bartender said "all the refrigerators on this ship are absolute shit!" I hope the engines and watertight features are better.

The last night has brought the cruise to an appropriate end. Craig is sleeping in the bunk directly above me, and as I was typing he suddenly uttered some of the most dreaded words in parenting: "Dad, I think I'm going to..." followed by a waterfall of partially digested Cruiseship Lines foodstuffs. In the confines of our cabin it brought back college memories I'd tried to forget.

I'm glad we're going home. They may have to scrap the ship to get the smell out of our cabin.

So, from somewhere off Baja Calfornia: Merry Summer Vacation to all, and to all a good night.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Talent Show Update

We went to the Camp Cruiseship talent show to watch Marie dance. I’d post the video, but due to poor lighting it looks like a pair of white socks convulsing to “Who Let the Dogs Out?”.

Craig had signed up to do the Can-Can (Really!), but got stage fright. Frank told jokes with his face completely covered by the piece of paper he’d written them on. For the record, these were their ideas, we didn't even suggest they sign-up.

I have to say that what Marie lacks in talent she makes up for in enthusiasm. This is a family trait. In medical school my class once went to a karaoke bar at the end of test week, and (after several drinks) I got up on stage and sang a passionate rendition of “My Way”. Afterwards my roommate said “Dude, you can’t carry a tune worth shit. But boy, can you SING!”

Unfortunately, Marie was somehow under the impression she might win money for her routine (it’s a show, not a contest), and was quite disappointed to find out she didn’t. So on returning to her seat she loudly asked “Mommy, someday can you take me where I can dance for money?”

Gee, why are all the other parents staring at us?

I Don't Know This Lady

To my horror, Mrs. Grumpy (inebriated on Diet Coke) decided to participate in the ship’s ice cream speed-eating contest. This involved eating 2 scoops without your hands, placing the empty inverted ice-cream bowl on her head, and yelling "Iggy wiggy, I'm a piggy!" before anyone else.

And she blew the rest of the field away, winning big time.

She won a plastic trophy.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Grumpy Summer Vacation, Day 10

At sea again.

My most memorable cruise director was a woman named Suzy, who was on an Alaskan trip Mrs. Grumpy and I went on a few years back. What made her so memorable was that she actually got fired (or died, or was abducted by aliens) in the middle of the cruise. One evening she did the night show, and the next morning announcements were done by "your cruise director, Brent". And Suzy was never mentioned or seen again. At breakfast I looked for her on the sides of milk cartons, to no avail.

The cruise director on the S.S. Humungous is a guy named Goose. I swear. This is not a name I generally associate with cruise directors. When I hear of a guy named Goose my first thought is of Goose Gossage, the pitcher, and my second is Tom Cruise's navigator in Top Gun.

Goose has his own closed circuit TV show every morning, which is imaginatively called "Good Morning with Goose". It consists of Goose, looking remarkably happy and perky, like he's just downed a boatload of coffee and Prozac, answering phone questions from passengers in varying states of drunkenness and/or sleep/caffeine deprivation.

The ability to always look and act happy is a remarkable trait of cruise directors. You can just see them enthusiastically saying “Sorry the ship is sinking, folks, but we have some FABULOUS abandoning activities planned, and a great trivia party in lifeboat 7”. I assume they're specifically bred for this purpose, and in the future Goose will be sent to work stud at a cruise director farm.

Back to the TV show: during our cruise Goose had to deal with all kinds of calls, some reasonable, some pointless, and some downright stupid. I can only assume this happens every cruise. I found myself watching his show, in the same way that it's hard to look away from a car wreck. Goose wasn't doing anything wrong, it was more his callers. So far on this trip he’s received the following questions in response to his ever-cheery "Good morning! This is Goose! What's your question?"

"Hey, why is it windy today?"

"What number do I call to reach your show?"

"I'm worried about our new stop in Ensenada. I thought I read somewhere that they have Mexicans there?"

"My wife and I were thinking about going to Alaska next year. Do they accept American dollars?"

"Goose, I'm really depressed about Michael Jackson today".

“What color is the ocean this morning?”

(slurred voice) "Do you know a hangover cure?"

"Which Van Halen lead singer did you prefer? David Lee Roth or Sammy Hagar?"

"Do I need a passport to visit Hawaii?"

“Was it a hurricane or a tornado we avoided yesterday?”

He also received several calls in heavily accented english telling him what a great job he was doing. I suspected they were other employees.

Sometimes there are calls Goose can't answer. When this happens he whips out a cell phone and calls someone else, then holds the phone up to the microphone. One morning he had to call the ship's "shopping specialist" (I still have no idea how someone could possibly get such a meaningless job). She answered on the 5th ring, and in spite of her denials had obviously just been woken up. Her speech was a tad slurred and she sounded disoriented. Obviously, our hurricane-induced schedule change had caught her by surprise, and she was frantically trying to remember which port we were going into that day.

A passenger, that I hadn't previously encountered was included on this ship. It is Mrs. Dour. This is a thoroughly unpleasant middle-aged woman who has a permanent look of contempt etched on her face. Whenever and wherever we sat down for a meal, or drink, or show, she'd immediately come up 5 seconds later, carrying a tray of food or drinks, and give us a look that told us she'd been waiting for that very same table (sometimes in an otherwise empty room) for the last 6 hours, and we'd just beaten her too it. She’d glare hatefully at us for 15 seconds, then wander off in a huff.

The other passenger who was new to this cruise was Exercise Girl. She was in her 30’s, and every time I saw her she was in gym clothes, with a light covering of sweat, and had an iPod with one ear bud in and the other hanging loose. We saw her 2-3 times each day, always looking like this. One night the twins woke me up demanding to be taken for ice cream at 3:00 a.m., so I took them. And in the hallway, there she was, heading back to her room (maybe she really works in the ship’s red light district, and had just finished a shift).

Marie, Craig, and I went golfing after breakfast. The only other people up on the mini-golf course were an older couple, on board for their 50th anniversary, and fighting like hell. Every single putt-putt hole brought out more snide comments, nasty remarks about long-dead in-laws, and other stuff. It was awesome. 50 years of pent-up hostility exposed by a 9-hole miniature golf course.

Then Marie hit her ball onto the "Serenity Deck" 1 floor down, whacking some poor lady on the back who was trying to relax with a book

Around noon I played basketball. I haven't played in a pick-up game since medical school. In college my intramural team set a record that likely still stands. In a 5 game season we lost our first game 83-10, our second game 75-15, didn’t play the 4th or 5th games because not enough people showed up, and forfeited the last game because we'd missed the previous 2. In other words, we sucked.

Every player dreams of taking the shot that ends the game. And today, it was my turn. I caught a pass at the 3-point line, and was open. I put up an amazing shot. It completely missed the basket. And everything else. The ball is still likely floating around in the Pacific. With the other players glaring at me, I left the court in disgrace. And later received notice that I've been charged $20 for a replacement basketball.

The pools on this trip, although nice, have been a big disappointment. On my past cruises they were warmed to a decent temperature, but here, on Cruiseship Lines biggest ship, they're downright icy. I complained about this to Goose and he cheerfully informed me that they were heating them, and they'd be comfortable sometime before the ship goes to the scrapyard.

Reassured by this I stupidly allowed my kids to talk me into trying the waterslide this afternoon. It didn't seem so cold until I landed in the frigid pool at the bottom. It was like ice. I have no idea what I yelled out, but suspect it had parents frantically covering their kids' ears. I got out, grabbed a towel, and made my way back to my chair. I was choking, and realized that the lump in my throat was something that I used to pee with.

They clean and refill the pools and hot tubs each night. I personally consider this a very good thing, because in the early morning the hot tubs are clear, and by late afternoon are cloudy and yellow.

After dinner Mrs. Grumpy and I wandered off to watch the sunset and have a round of Diet Cokes. While lying out on the stern deck a young couple sat down near us. They were on their honeymoon, and he was already in the doghouse (get used to it, dude). She was chewing him out big time, using such fighting words words as "cheating", "trust", "honesty" and boy, was she pissed.

Since this was far more interesting than the sunset, I paid attention. I mean, if you’re going to have your inaugural fight in public, who am I to ignore such quality entertainment?

Here's the story: She went down to the spa for a few hours, but after a while went back to their room to get a bathing suit. She walked in and caught him “CHEATING” on her (her words, not mine).

I couldn’t stand the tension! Who was he with? Natalia, the hot cocktail waitress? Lucy, the photographer? Amy, the drunken college student? None of the above! She caught him cheating on her with (drumroll, please) HIS PLAYSTATION-3, which he'd secretly brought along on the honeymoon! Yes, this was what landed this poor sucker in the doghouse.

It’s the endless variety of entertainment of this sort that I love about cruising. If anyone from Cruiseship Lines, Inc. recognize their ship in my writing, and wish to give me a free cruise or money for my endorsement, I’m more than willing to accept it, and you can email me. I’m also more than happy to do the “Stroke-At Sea” themed neurology cruise I suggested in this post.

And that's (in honor and memory of Walter Cronkite) the way it is.

The International Crisis is Over

Attention: I've now been issued a replacement Diet Coke card by the purser. Balance has been restored to the universe.


I lost my endless Diet Coke card! Stop the ship! Stop the presses! Stop the world! Sound general alarm! Call the Navy! Call the Coast Guard! Call the Boy Scouts!


Parental Warning

Attention parents: Sooner or later all kids do that thing where they push all the buttons in the elevator, then get off, solely to inconvenience others.

If your child is doing this, however, please teach them NOT to do it by squeezing into a FULL elevator, pushing all the buttons, and then standing there smiling at all the other people in the elevator.

If this sounds like something your kid might have done, and you’re on a cruise, you can find him in lifeboat #3, bound, gagged, and tied to (what used to be) the lunch buffet’s ice sculpture.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Grumpy Summer Vacation, Day 9

Today we were in Mazatlan.

For those of you remember my last visit to Mazatlan, fear not. I didn't get off the ship. In fact, I think the Mexican customs agents have a picture of me and orders to NOT allow me off, after I nearly caused an international incident in March. This may be the first time in history the Mexicans wanted to keep someone OUT of their country.

Although having no plans to go ashore, I got a seat overlooking the gangway this morning, in hopes of filming the excellent performance by drunken musicans that we had a few months ago. I was disappointed, because apparently they were unable to find musicians who weren't inebriated, unreliable, or contagious, and in their place they wheeled out 3 statues of musicians to tower over the gangway, while a boombox played some sort of Mexican rap music. How inviting.

They tell you at the gangway that the local water supply is "usually safe", while simultaneously selling $5 bottles of water under a sign that says "Take Safe Refreshment". So what kind of mixed messages are you giving here? Would you also give a lecture on how it was a low crime area and then sell handguns at the gangway?

Around noon I took Frank and Craig up to the water slide. The ship was empty, most of the passengers having gone ashore. And there was A TURD lying on the deck by the staircase. I ain't talking bird poop, either. I mean a decent sized human waste product, which likely fell out of a passing diaper. I pointed this out to several passing ship employees, who looked at it and then went about their jobs, clearly hoping someone else would take care of it. I even noticed my chatty friend, Officer Mahjong, going by:

Dr. Grumpy "Excuse me, sir, but there's a turd on the deck.''

Officer Mahjong: "A turd?"

Dr. Grumpy: "Ya know, a turd, shit, excrement, crap, stool, BM, doody, poop, whatever, over there on the deck."

Officer Mahjong smiled, laughed, and patted me on the back, "Oh, you funny sir. No worry. Only sailing ships have poop decks" and walked off.

I gave up, told the boys not to mistake it for a Baby Ruth, and lay down with my book. A few minutes later a crewman appeared, wearing an outfit that looked like it could survive plague, fire, or nerve gas. He picked up the turd with a bright red bag, mopped the area with bleach, and vanished.

I hung out this afternoon overlooking the gangway, watching people come back to the ship. They were returning with all kinds of shit. Hammocks, hideous paintings, bottles of Cuervo, ugly hats, clothes, jewelry boxes, and one guy with a sex doll.


No shit. He actually bought a sex doll in Mazatlan. I must confess, that even in my disastrous tour of Mazatlan last March, I never once saw a sex shop. I guess I assumed they're out there, but never asked where to find them either. I hope he didn't buy it used.

I gotta admit, it takes a special kind of courage (or desperation) to buy a sex doll outside the U.S. and bring it in. I mean, let's face it. You have to bring it through customs on both sides of the border, where EVERYONE can see that you bought a sex doll. And this guy wasn't even trying to hide it under a bag or something. I couldn't hear what he was saying, but had to wonder. Was he using the "It's for a friend" line? Or "It's a gag gift" or was he even trying to make excuses? Inquiring minds want to know.

I mean, this ship is full of hormonally charged singles and this guy is getting a sex doll? Even if he's inept at pick-up lines, whatever happened to good old-fashioned using the self service pumps? Tonight at dinner I'll be looking around to see if he’s sitting with his new companion.

Looking for something to do before dinner, I followed Mrs. Grumpy into the photo store. Here you can buy pictures that the ship's ubiquitous photographers snap when you least expect them to. While standing there, trying to focus on important subjects like when was my last Diet Coke, a teenage guy wanders over and suddenly whips out a picture he pulled off the display. He looked around furtively, like he was about to sell me a watch, or state secrets, or a dime bag. But instead he just said "Hey, Mister, does this picture make me look gay?"

I looked at the picture. It wasn't flattering. I thought about pointing out that it was his lame-ass haircut that made him look gay, but decided to be nice. I was an awkward teenager once, too. I said "I think it's just the way the lighting is".

“Man, if my Dad sees this he'll buy it! How can I keep him from doing that? Can you help me, dude?"

I have no idea why this guy had come to me to save him from a really bad picture, but pointed out the shredding box for people to drop unwanted pics in. He tossed it in there (looking around for his father the whole time), winked at me, and wandered off.

Mrs. Grumpy located the pictures they took of our kids in Camp Cruiseship. Frank and Marie looked cute. For some unfathomable reason, however, Craig had been posed with another boy, one we'd never seen before. Out of 30 kids in their camp group, Craig and this kid were the only ones in a dual picture. Why on Earth would they do that? Why would any parent buy a picture of their kid posed with some other kid who they've never seen before, and whose name your kid doesn't even know? How stupid is that?

After tonight's lounge show we wandered up to get a snack. I mean, we hadn't eaten in nearly 90 minutes, and were famished. So we went to the 24 hour pizza place. While I was waiting in line to order a slice, a drunk guy in his early 20's went up to the pizza counter and had this discussion with Rohan, the pizza cook.

Mr. Drunk: "Rohan, dude, when are they going to re-open the burger station over there?"

Rohan: "The burger station is closed for the night, sir. It will open again at 10:30 tomorrow morning."

Mr. Drunk: So can I get a burger here?"

Rohan: "No, sir, this is the pizza station".

Mr. Drunk: "So how come I can't get a burger over there?"

Rohan: "It's closed for the night, sir."

Mr. Drunk: "So can you guys make me a burger?"

Rohan: "No, we only have ingredients for pizza here."

Mr. Drunk: "I know you do! I mean, otherwise why would I come over here?"

Rohan: "Would you like some pizza, sir?"

Mr. Drunk: "No! I want a burger! Hey, do you know if the burger station is open?"

This went on for another few minutes before Mr. Drunk staggered off to chase a passing herd of Miss Drunks.

The main reason I note this conversation is because many of my posts, as well as those on other medical sites, seem to assume that we are the only field to be cursed with having circular conversation with idiots. I felt sorry for Rohan. Here he was, politely slinging pizza somewhere off the coast of Mexico, and he had to deal with the same idiocy that we have to put up with. I felt like he should get an honorary RPh, RN, or MD for handling this so well.

To answer the question: No, I didn't see the guy and his doll at dinner. Maybe they were in another seating, or went to the buffet instead.

Nosebleed Seats. Please

Marie has signed up to dance in the Camp Cruiseship talent show. Given her golfing skills and dance style (as described here). I hope they leave the first 3 rows empty, like the splash zone at Sea World.

For the Record

This is not me, nor is it our ship, and I have not killed Mrs. Grumpy.

She is, however, accusing me of attempted murder for suggesting she try the Mango Diet Cake. I dodged just in time to avoid getting another black eye.

Speaking of Needing Duct Tape.........

At breakfast today Frank and Marie had a fight, and she threw a handful of pepper at his plate.

He coughed twice and sneezed, and a lady at the table behind us jumped up, grabbed her tray, and loudly said to her husband “RONALD!!! Let’s get out of here! I think that kid has SWINE FLU!”

We’ll have to wait and see if we finish the trip in quarantine.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Grumpy Summer Vacation, Day 8

Today we were in Cabo San Lucas.

The breakfast buffet is good, but sometimes has a darker side. This morning I saw them refilling the scrambled egg pitchers at the omelet station from a cardboard box that said "Family Style Frozen Egg Food Product". Yummy. It also features sausage, ham, and bacon under a sign that says "Various Meat Pieces". Isn't that just mouth watering?

Every ship I've ever been on has a display of statues, trophies, plaques, etc., presented to the ship on it's first call in any port. For lack of anything better to do I read some of them today. My favorite, from a Mexican beach town, said "We welcome the S.S. Humungous, and wich you far winds and smoth sees" (sic).

One benefit of cruising with Mrs. Grumpy is that she speaks Tagalog, which is the language of the Philippines. You may not see any benefit to this, but it gives us an odd, at times lurid, look into the crew's lives. The majority of the housekeeping, meal serving, and cooking staff are from Indonesia or the Philippines, and use Tagalog to talk to each other. They assume most passengers don’t understand it. So often the bar staff will chatter while they prepare our Diet Cokes, and afterwards Mrs. Grumpy will tell me that they were discussing who passed out drunk at last night's crew party, or which of our waitstaff wears a thong, or what an ass they think I am (she says the last is the most common topic). At one point 2 waitresses and a cook were in an elevator with us, and after we stepped off at our floor she told me they were discussing their sexual threesome of the night before. Of course, for all I know Mrs. Grumpy is just making this crap up, but it's still entertaining.

The lunch buffet usually has a few bowls of cookies, and some really awesome desserts like "Extra Huge Slab of Chocolate" or "Whip Cream Crumb Streudel Cake". These are closely guarded by the ship's Dessert Nazis, highly trained, no-nonsense servers armed with BIG SHARP KNIVES, whose job is to carefully serve one piece of dessert at a time. If they think you may try to take so much as a crumb without asking them to do it for you, you will lose fingers (though you can get them back later from the sushi bar, if you don’t mind soy sauce and ginger on them).

What's funny is that a few feet away is an unguarded tray of "Mango Diet Cake" which nobody touches. In fact, it looks about the same each day, and I think at night they just dye (or paint) it a different color. So one day it's orange "Pumpkin Diet Cake", and the next day it's green "Asparagus Diet Cake". It's possible they've been using the same tray since the ship was launched. For all I know they're really wood blocks.

Craig lost a tooth today. It fell out while he was getting his face painted to look like a pirate, and the missing tooth only enhanced things. Amazing how fast he learned to suck ice cream through the gap. So now the tooth fairy has to visit the S.S. Humungous, a service not provided by Cruiseship Lines.

Due to my remarkable talent at trivia (we all have our skills, mine are just pointless) I won Mrs. Grumpy and I dinner in the ship's super-deluxe restaurant, which they charge extra for. For the life of me I can't figure out why some suckers pay extra to eat there, considering it has the same food as the rest of the ship, maybe just somewhat better service, and you've already paid for food with your fare. But since I won it for free, we went.

The brochure said it featured "spectacular ocean views", which it did. However, a walkway surrounded the restaurant, so your view was occasionally interrupted by someone going by. This was no biggie until a monstrously obese guy wearing a thong spandex mens bikini decided to stop outside our window and press his nose against the glass to see what people inside were eating. He blotted out the sun to the extent that other diners thought it was an eclipse and lit candles. He was shortly joined by his equally svelte wife, also in spandex gear.

I was trying to decide if I should rap on the glass to make him leave when they wandered off on their own. With the darkness lifted our waiter came over to refill our waters, and softly said he hoped we'd enjoyed the unscheduled whale sightings.

Our dinner also included entertainment provided by an older couple across from us, who ordered crab legs. To our astonishment Mrs. Elderly ACTUALLY ATE THEM WHOLE, biting off big chunks of crab meat AND shell, crunching it up, and swallowing. Her husband was using the shell-crackers, but not Grandma. The waiters and other diners were also watching, and after she finished I thought we should give her a round of applause, or dentures, or something.

There was a comedy show tonight. At one point the comedian asked "Anyone here from Tennessee?" and the family in front of us all cheered. So he asked them what part, and the mother yelled "Georgia!".

The comedian was so lucky. You can't script that kind of stupidity.

Karaoke Kuestion

Is it some sort of International Maritime Law that every cruise ship have at least one horribly untalented warbling woman on board who wants to sing "Memory" (from Cats) badly off key at karaoke?

If there isn't, then WTF is she doing on this, my 6th cruise?

Love in an Elevator

On an elevator ride up to Camp Cruiseship with Marie, a heavily perfumed lady got in with us. After about 10 seconds Marie said "Dad, it smells like bad cleaning chemicals and bug spray in here."

It’s really hard to pretend you don’t know a child after they call you “Dad”.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Grumpy Summer Vacation, Day 7

At sea again.

At breakfast the table near us was occupied by a guy in his 70's and large extended family. After a few minutes he suddenly launched into a loud lecture to his family members (and unfortunate nearby diners) on methods he was using to improve his "spincter" control. He didn't clarify which of his bodily "spincters" he was referring to, leaving such sordid details to our imaginations. His family seemed to take this in stride.

1st point: I really don’t care about your "spincter" or how tight it is, or how much it's been leaking recently, or what you do to keep it tight.

2nd point: It's called a "SPHINCTER" you illiterate dipshit.

Due to an unscheduled Category 1 hurricane, we were informed today that the ship would be skipping Puerto Vallarta and later going to Ensenada instead. I don't see this as a big deal, but the torch & pitchfork mob outside the purser's office sure did. It was so much fun listening to them that I got a front row seat in the lobby and ordered endless Diet Cokes. You heard things like:

"So what if it's a hurricane! I want to go fishing!"

"I knew a guy who survived Katrina, and the boat he done lived on was smaller than this."

"Can't you just drop me off to go shopping, and bring the ship back later?"

“Why can’t you just have the hurricane go somewhere else?”

“What causes hurricanes? Are they different from earthquakes?”

While Mrs. Grumpy took a nap, I went to the pool on the aft deck. I got a Diet Coke and jumped in the hot tub, enjoying a soak while 2 pimply adolescent guys argued about movies on the other side of the tub. After a few minutes a collection of blond teenage titwillows jumped in the hot tub with us (the kind who never gave me the time of day in high school, and now call on my office as drug reps).

They paid no attention to the middle-aged doctor and 2 pimply guys, just discussed where they were going to go shopping in Cabo San Lucas. When I looked over at the zit brothers I noticed that both were transfixed on the titwillows and (more alarmingly) their hands were underwater and out of sight. So I jumped out of the tub before a sticky situation developed.

Why on Earth does the ship’s TV show Cartoon Network, with the shows in English and the ads in Spanish? And why are the commercials so damn funny when you can’t understand a word of them?

At lunch I went for some fries. That station was empty, but the line for burgers was full. So I just walked ahead of the burger line to get some fries, only to have a 3-toothed hag kick me in the shin, throw a grape, and loudly accuse me of cutting in front of her. I told her that the ship’s dentist was on deck 1, and got my fries.

After lunch Frank wanted to go golfing. Playing miniature golf is an odd sensation when you're doing it 11 stories above the ocean, on a moving platform. If the ship rolls it can really screw up a shot in a high-stakes game of minigolf. As a result I owe Frank a nickel.

I want to know who picks what they show on the Jumbotron poolside screen? Sometimes it's entertaining, like “Night at the Museum”or “Star Wars”. Today, however, it was "Tom Jones! Live! In Vegas!" It looked like it was filmed in the late 60's, early 70's. I was hoping some inebriated babe would toss her room key up at the screen, but no such luck.

At around 5:00 the captain made an announcement. These start with a few chimes and then "Ladies and Gentlemen, Captain Speaking” (as far as I can tell Captain Speaking has commanded every ship I've ever been on). Unfortunately, the rest of the message is usually garbled. I've never understood this. These companies spend billions to build monster ships, but have the PA systems made by the company that does the inaudible drive-thru's at McD's. So the rest of the announcement sounds like he's either repeating an order for cheeseburgers, fries, and a shake, or that he's telling you the ship is sinking.

After he was done gargling into the intercom I flagged down a passing ship’s officer (I think his name was Mahjong, I swear) and asked him what the captain said. Mahjong smiled and told me "It concerned the ship, sir" and walked off. Thanks, Officer Mahjong, I feel much better now.

At the dinner buffet tonight I was in line behind a lady who asked if the seafood enchiladas contained seafood. WTF?

We’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon on this cruise. Disappearing food. Marie will ask if she can try your soup or something. You give her a taste. And she politely says thank you. Then you look away for a minute, and when you return to your meal your bowl of soup or whatever is gone. It's now on Marie’s plate. And she gives you this look of surprise, as if the ship's roll had shifted it there.

"Can't We All Just Get Along?"

I gotta say, anyone who feels people from different cultures, ethnicities, races, religions, whatever can't possibly get along HAS NEVER BEEN ON A CRUISE!

The crews on these ships (I've been on 6 cruises total) are a remarkable polyglot from Europe (east and west), Russia and former Soviet republics, India, and the Pacific rim (Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, and a few places I've never heard of), with a few south Americans, Americans, Canadians, Mexicans, and English sprinkled in. Most of the officers are Italian.

Anyway, watching these remarkably disparate people working together quite efficiently actually makes you feel there is hope for humanity.

And I can't even keep my kids from killing each other.

What the Hell is With This Music?

Is there a company that specializes in recording reggae versions of popular songs for use on cruise ships? It's like freakin' calypso Muzak.

So far today I've heard reggae Foreigner, Rolling Stones, The Kinks, Neil Diamond, and disco.

Do they have reggae versions of "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald", mon?

Argument Clinic At Sea

My son Craig will be a lawyer someday. He can argue with a wall.

This morning he walked to the bar with me when I went to get a Diet Coke. A lady was getting a Blue Hawaii, and he argued with her and the bartender that it was turquoise, not blue.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Grumpy Summer Vacation, Day 6

The S.S. Humungous is at sea today.

Craig is sleeping in the bunk bed over me, with the heads overlapping. At some point I woke up to notice his pillow was overhanging the edge by an inch or so. I woke up again a while later, when it was about 6 inches out, then dozed off again. This went on until I was woken by the pillow itself falling on me. I somehow fell back asleep again, only to be awoken a few minutes later by Craig accusing me of stealing his damn pillow, and waking up everyone else. Can I have some Diprivan bought to my cabin?

I have no idea where they get ideas to decorate these ships. On this one the hallways are lined with paintings of people in the early 1920's era, looking happy while golfing, listening to jazz, and sipping gin & tonic on the deck of a steamship. One showed 2 guys looking through a travel brochure for "Beautiful New Jersey- Sunshine, Sand, and Scenery". There is also a great picture of 2 women talking, one with short, bright purple hair, and the other wearing a dress made to look like leaves are covering her breasts. It looked like Mrs. Joker talking to Poison Ivy in a Batman comic.

One elevator painting shows a rather severe looking-woman with a body pose and facial expression that suggest she's either flexing all her muscles at once or desperately trying to become unconstipated. Or both.

If I only have one complaint it’s that this ship doesn’t have a sightseeing deck, like the one we went on in 2003 did:

(Fortunately for me, Mrs. Grumpy doesn’t read my blog).

I love the phone in my room. It has autodial buttons labeled "Guest services", "Room Service", "Housekeeping", and "Spa". If you press "Guest Services" You get this message: "Thank you for calling guest services. To reach room service, please hang up and press the ‘room service’ button. To reach housekeeping, please hang up and press the ‘housekeeping’ button. To reach the spa, please hang up and press the ‘spa’ button.” Isn’t that helpful?

The toilets on these ships are remarkable works of technology. Mrs. Grumpy calls them the "Suckmaster 2000" (her phrase, not a sci-fi porn flick). When you press the button they make a loud whooshing noise and everything just vanishes. You actually feel a draft of air being pulled into the john from under the door. You have to be sure that none of your limbs are anywhere near the bowl when you flush, or the only thing the crew will find is your sneakers.

The scuba diver in me thinks about what an awesome dive this ship would be if it sank. Hopefully not on this trip, though.

I was laying out by the main pool, reading a book and watching the kids swim. And suddenly the overhead Jumbotron TV begins blasting E! and the latest on Jon & Kate! Can't I get away from worthless people of this sort here? Why does this shit have to follow us everywhere? I had no idea who these two losers even were until I heard my office girls talking about them. Why can't I relax in peace on my vacation by the ship’s pool with my Diet Coke, NOT have to listen to sordid stories from the famous and pointless?

This afternoon was the poolside "Hairy Chest" competition. I suggested Mrs. Grumpy enter it, and will now be finishing the cruise with a black eye (in addition to my broken foot). She later submitted my name as a candidate, but suggested they have a Hairy Ass contest that I could win.

After the pool Mrs. Grumpy, my black eye, and I went to a lounge. We ordered Diet Cokes and listened to a girl with a thick Indonesian accent belting out ABBA. It was awesome. "See dat gril, watch dat seen, she be dat dancing keen". I loved it.

Wandering through the ship I ended up in one of the overpriced stores, glancing at such useless baubles as Cruiseship Lines stuffed animals, shirts, and shot glasses. They have a small display of overpriced Tylenol, Tums, and other over-the-counter drugs.

It occurred to me that they could be making a FORTUNE if they also sold condoms and Plan B. In fact, this is the perfect environement for both given the large amounts of circulating singles, hormones, and alcohol.

At dinner a dining room supervisor came over to ask us how we were doing. Seeing our walkie-talkies she said. "oh you have walkie-talkies? Do you use them to talk to each other on the ship?"

Mrs. Grumpy smiled, nodded, and kicked my good leg under the table to keep me from being a smart-ass and earning another black eye. I don’t want to be mistaken for a raccoon. That could result in me becoming an entreĆ© in the sushi bar.

And He's Not Even Santa

I have the oldest kid in the world who believes that the ship's costumed mascot "Cruiseship Clyde" is real.

My Readers Write About the Cruise

Several of you have written in asking how I can take so much time off from work. To answer your questions:

I am NOT phenomenally wealthy. I make a decent living, working 70-90 hours per week most of the year. Being in solo practice means I don't have any partners to argue with when I want to leave town. I field my own calls no matter where I am.

These trips are not cheap. I know that. The drawback of solo practice is that when I'm not in the office, I'm not getting paid. So I have to figure out how much the trip will cost, in both actual price AND how much money I lose by not working.

So why do I do it? One reason. As Mrs. Grumpy says "The kids are here only to visit us for a few years". So I devote as much of summer vacation and other school breaks as I can afford to being Dad, and not Doctor.

As my Science Marches On Department says, "nobody dies wishing they'd spent more time at the office".

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Grumpy Summer Vacation, Day 5

So we parted from my parents, and are now off on our cruise. Normally we don't do 2 cruises in the same year, but recession rates won't last forever, and as an American citizen I'm obliged to support some sort of industry. So I might as well have fun at it.

We drove to the port today. Due to whiny children we stopped at a Burger King for lunch. While we were waiting in line 2 cops came in for lunch and got in line, too. The next thing I knew Craig was pointing out that all the kitchen staff were running out the back door. So I told the Legion of Whiners to shut up, get back in the car, and that we’d eat on the ship since it was already paid for.

And so we boarded the S.S. Humungous and are off. Same route we took in March, 2009, but different ship.

This is SO pathetic. The poolside bartender on this ship is the same one who worked on our last cruise (on the S.S. Buffet) in March. So after boarding Mrs. Grumpy and I went to get our Soda Cards (giving us unlimited Diet Cokes for the trip, an essential part of our existence). I walked over, he looked at me once, and without even asking brought me 2 Diet Cokes and rang me up for the Soda Cards.

Equally pathetic was checking the kids in to Camp Cruiseship, and having one of the directors say: “Oh, it's those twins who fight all the time. They were on the S.S. Buffet, too.”

We wandered around the ship. I took the kids up to the minigolf course, where Marie immediately showed that her golfing skills hadn't improved since Legoland. Her first shot went off the course and into a pool shower 1 deck down, almost killing the crewman who was cleaning it.

The ship hadn't even finished boarding, but already people were partying. The pools and hot tubs were full. The miniature golf course had a line. Every pool chair was taken. The band was blasting. People were carrying trays of food and drinks everywhere. AND WE HADN'T EVEN LEFT PORT YET! It occurred to me that Cruiseship Lines could market this as an all inclusive vacation and not even go anywhere. You could just board the ship and party for a week, without burning a drop of diesel. I personally would love a 1 week cruise where we never pulled into port. But that's just me.

As we wandered around the ship, we saw a woman heaving her lunch overboard. This is not a good sign when you haven't even left port yet.

This ship is huge. And very, very, very pink. I have no idea who designed this thing, but they really liked pink. It makes this ship just ideal if they hold a Gay Pride Cruise. It's an improvement over our last cruise on the S.S. Buffet, though, where the theme was "random paintings of naked people".

This ship (not including the passengers), however, is not lacking for naked people. The inaugural Camp Cruiseship kid’s party was held in the main nightclub, which allegedly has a Hollywood theme. This consists mainly of naked art-deco statues in various colors, sort of like life-size Academy Award Oscar trophies, lined up on a red carpet outside the door.

(click to enlarge)

In reality I'm sure that a line of naked, genital-less, people outside a nightclub would attract a crowd, but I'm not sure I'd want to go into the place. When I first saw them after boarding I assumed they were mannequins that were being left there until they could be posed in a store, but no such luck. They are part of the decor. However the Camp Cruiseship kids certainly enjoyed posing with them, pointing and giggling. Sure got more interest then the lady playing the "Hoki Poki" inside.

We had our first night’s dinner in the formal dining room. Our table was situated closely to another family's, so we got to overhear an exciting discussion between a mother and her teenage daughter. Ms. Teenwhinybutt was complaining about a blister on her foot that had popped during the day, and felt no one else in existence was taking it as seriously as they should be. To her family’s horror she suddenly whipped off her shoe and held her foot, with a large red oozing blister on it, OVER THE DINING ROOM TABLE.

This certainly got a reaction from her parents, though I'm not sure it was as sympathatic as she thought it would be, and a waiter quickly brought her a band-aid. I assume he did this more to prevent other guests from being horrified and running away screaming.

I’m going to bed. I’m exhausted from being dragged out to dance with Marie, who thinks she’s a kangaroo when there’s music playing. And she's dislocated both my shoulders.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Grumpy Summer Vacation, Day 4

This morning we grabbed a table outside to have breakfast. When the twins failed to materialize from the buffet room, I went searching for them. To my horror they'd set-up camp by the hot water spigot, giving free (and unsolicited) lessons to passersby on how to make hot chocolate while blocking the coffee urn (which is what most people were looking for). I dragged them off, restoring access to caffeine.

After breakfast we went back to Sea World, for day 2 of our pass. I produced our 5 tickets, and the wrinkled crone at the gate chewed me out because we have to give fingerprints that match each ticket, and since I hadn’t written each person’s name on the appropriate tickets “this will take forever to sort out, and you’re already holding up the line”.

Fortunately, we all got through on the first try, in spite of the fact that Mrs. Grumpy and I got through on child tickets and Frank and Marie used adult ones. So either we all have the same fingerprints or Sea World’s fingerprint-ID security system isn’t nearly as good as they think it is.

I spent the day hobbling around the park, due to Mrs. Grumpy stomping on my foot for trying to help a lady. We'd been going into the Shamu show, and some woman, who erroneously thought I looked helpful, came over and asked me if there was a difference between the 8:00 pm. and 10:00 pm "Shamu Rocks!" shows. I told her the 10:00 show was for adults only, and was called "Shamu Fucks!" That’s when my foot began hurting.

Why is it that my kids are too chicken shit to sit in the splash zones by themselves? And when I want to sit there, how come that’s suddenly the only time all day they won’t?

My Dad is always fun at these places, because he firmly feels you should be out of there before noon so he can go take a nap. When I was a kid, and stupid/naive/both, I believed him that a major amusement park would never be open past noon. Around 11:45 a.m. he’d say “Okay, that was the whole park, let's go somewhere for lunch and a nap". And then I'd go home and tell my friends about the 3 rides I'd been on, and they told me about the 45 they were on and the fireworks show at night, and I'd stupidly accept my father's explanation that they must have gone to a different park by the same name. It wasn't until I took my own kids to Disneyland that I realized the rides ran into the afternoon and night.

But my Dad has a truly remarkable talent. He can get into anything, regardless of what’s required to do so. He has the amazing ability, without saying a word, to look like he knows what he's doing and is where he's supposed to be. One year, on a Hawaiian vacation, we were driving around looking for a place to have lunch. He noticed a cruise ship in the harbor, parked in a lot near it, and led our family right past the ship’s guarded gangway and to the buffet. The security officer, who was checking everything that moved for a ship's ID, waved us through when my dad smiled and nodded to him. We ate there, and then strolled off and drove back to our hotel for his nap. On another trip he got us into a $25 per person luau with the same ability.

It was late afternoon at Seaworld and there was a Junior Achievement group having a private function at a pavilion, with a dinner buffet. There was a guard at the door, asking to see event tickets as people went it.

Mrs. Grumpy, my Mom, and I were walking past it, and suddenly noticed my Dad was inside, eating dinner and sitting with a group of parents. We didn’t know he’d even returned from his nap yet. As soon as we saw him we decided to try and join him, but were immediately stopped by the guard, who asked for our event tickets and photo ID's. My Dad stood inside laughing at us, then wandered over and said to the guard "It's okay, Bill, they're with me." The guard immediately smiled and let us through, so we had dinner with Junior Achievement.

How come the men’s room urinal has a sign above it explaining (in both English and Spanish) the dangers of drinking alcohol if you're pregnant?

While waiting in line (again) the twins began hitting each other, just as I noticed this sign nearby:

When I asked the employee standing there I was told that I couldn’t trade my kids in for another set. Is that false advertising or what?

On the way out we stopped to see if anyone had turned in Craig’s lost baseball cap. Another Mr. Asshole was in there, arguing with the manager on duty. He wanted his money back on the grounds that, after spending a full day at Sea World, he’d decided there weren't enough rides to make him happy.

Because we’re going on a cruise tomorrow, we had to do a bunch of laundry tonight. So Mrs. Grumpy and I took turns in the Residence Inn laundry room.

I gotta tell you, these other Residence Inn travelers are laundromatically aggressive psychopaths (or maybe they're still angry over not getting coffee this morning). If you aren't there they'll actually pull your wet clothes out of a machine, toss them on the floor, and reset the machine with their own load.

So I got a book and a shotgun and set up camp to protect, wash, and dry. We had a lot of laundry, and after a while other people using the room began to assume I worked there. They asked me for change, directions to the zoo, and how to get out coffee stains (I suggested a mixture of bleach and Bisquick, and if it ruined your shirt, you should have known better anyway).

Sea World Question

It just occured to me, while sitting here, maybe one of you can help me out.

In the early-mid 1970's, when my parents took my sister and I to Sea World, the sea lion show (the same one I'm waiting for now) had a trained bird named Pauline in it. My sister and I fought over whether Pauline was a duck (me) or penguin (my sister). I know we should know the difference, but remember we were little kids, and because of my Father's fear of getting sea lion germs splashed on him we were sitting pretty damn far from the stage.

If anyone remembers this character, please feel free to submit your answers or recollections.

Vacation Interlude

We're at Sea World again, waiting for the Seamore and Clyde show to start. I'll post more tonight.

I just want to chip in and thank all of you who saw the karma in Mr. Asshole losing his cell phone yesterday, as well in this past post.

I have to say that I think the BEST LINE EVER about this sort of thing was uttered by the late John Ritter, in a long forgotten 1989 movie called "Skin Deep". So here it is:

"There is a God! And he's a gag writer!"

Friday, July 10, 2009

Grumpy Summer Vacation, Day 3

Today we went to Seaworld. Traffic was light, but people here drive like children.

We were in the usual line to get in, with a group of obnoxious teenagers in front of us. As soon as they got in one of them ran over to the first souvenir booth and blew a wad of money on a HUGE Shamu stuffed animal. Literally 8-10 feet long and 2 feet wide. After walking away with her prize it suddenly dawned on Einstein and her friends that this was not something they could comfortably drag around with them all day.

So they decided to rent a locker. It was obvious (to all but this group) that they were too small to hold Shamu. This was quickly becoming the best show in the park.

They hauled mammoth Shamu over to the lockers, which were the size of an average high school locker. And into this they tried to cram a stuffed animal bigger than a Volkswagen. Simple observation showed it wouldn't fit, but they sure tried, pushing Shamu in head first, tail first, dorsal fin first. Of course, none of this worked, but one had to admire their efforts. They then went to ask for their money back on the locker rental, but couldn't get a refund. So they put their purses in, instead.

At this point the locker attendant, who I'd assumed was enjoying the show as much as we were, ruined everything by suggesting they put Shamu in their car. They thought this was a grand idea, and carried monster toy off. They were back a few minutes later, still lugging Shamu, because they'd left their car keys in the locker.

Sea World has these expensive "interactive adventures" where you can be a trainer for a day, assisting with the care and feeding of dolphins, whales, and various other flora & fauna. I could just see myself working the "Wild Arctic" polar bear display:

Dr. Grumpy: "So what are we doing now with the polar bears?"

Trainer: "It's their feeding time. Don't worry about the locked door, we'll be back for you later Mr. Grumpy!"

Dr. Grumpy: "It's DOCTOR Grumpy! Hey, open this door! HEY! HEY!"

Ar the Cirque de la Mer show a family in matching baseball caps sat next to us. During the act a clown went over and lifted up the father's hat. Not only was dad bald, but he had a wad of money under his hat for safekeeping. The clown and Dad both looked pretty surprised when a bunch of $20’s fell out. The clown quickly gave the hat back and went to find another victim.

There is nothing as embarrassing as having your kid go up and loudly ask the attendant at the penguin exhibit why Sea World’s penguins don't dance like the ones in "Happy Feet". Mrs. Grumpy and I pulled paper bags over our heads.

Apparently assholes go on Summer Vacation, too. The kids and I went on the “Journey to Atlantis” roller coaster. There was a guy in our car who was on his cell phone when he got in, arguing with someone at the other end. He wouldn’t hang up, and the attendant came over and said, “Sir, I can’t start the ride until you put the phone away”. Mr. Asshole yelled back “It’s an important call, damn it!”. Then people in line began yelling, and the attendant came over to take Mr. Asshole off the ride. So he put the phone in his pocket, and the ride started.

As soon as we were on our way, of course, he whipped out the phone again and began talking to somebody “Yeah, the dumb kid who runs the ride made me put it away for a minute”.

We hit the first big drop, and the phone flew out of his hand, disappearing into the water 50 feet below. It was awesome. As we left the ride I watched Mr. Asshole arguing with a superviser that the park was at fault for him losing the phone, and demanding they buy him a new one. I hope like hell they don’t.

After this we sent the kids off to the playground, while I went to pee. The bathroom music was “Play that Funky Music, White Boy”, and I got to watch the guy at the urinal next to me trying to pee, disco dance, and sing, all at the same time. Like watching a gong show audition.

Later in the day we went over to see the Budweiser Clydesdales (yes, they live at Sea World). There was a small fenced pasture in the back, with a solitary horse wandering slowly around it and a security guard leaning on the rail. He was being chewed out by a crazed man insisting that the pasture was too close to the rollercoaster, which was terrifying the poor horse (who didn't look at all terrified). The guard was trying to be polite, but obviously had no idea how to respond to this irrational fruitcake. The guy actually finished off by saying that he was going to write a letter to both his congressman AND the Audubon Society (really!) What is with people?

If you buy ice cream at Sea World they give you these great plastic bowls, which Mrs. Grumpy loves to have at home. Since ice cream here is expensive, and we’re trying to save money for next week’s cruise, she’s been watching to see if anyone abandons some at a table so she can nab them.

Late in the day she grabbed me to say that she’d just seen some tossed into a trash can, and (of course) wanted ME to get them.

So, doing what any parent would do, I told Frank to go get them (Hey! That’s what kids are for!). Unfortunately, as he walked over to do so, a guy with a rake came over and mashed down the garbage so they were beyond his arms’ reach.

I prayed none of my patients were watching, walked over, and pulled them out of the garbage myself. And then I looked at Frank and loudly said “Frank! Mom told you not to throw these away!”

When in doubt, blame your kids. If they’re not around, blame the dog.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Grumpy Summer Vacation, Day 2

Breakfast at Residence Inn. I love the smell of Diet Coke and artificially processed waffle-flavored batter in the morning.

Today we went to Legoland. It should be noted here that today’s post is not as funny as you might expect. At some point at Legoland your kids wander into an area where they can sit and play with Legos and Duplos (which they want to do for hours), and you suddenly realize you just took out a 2nd mortgage to pay for them to play with Legos and Duplos at Legoland, which they can do at your house FOR FREE. And that ain’t funny.

Driving there we discovered my son Craig is under the impression that any car with an “Obama” bumper sticker is actually the one that the President is riding in at that moment. Since a lot of cars still have them on, Craig is now wondering why the C-in-C is following us all over California. [Please note- this paragraph was written to show childhood silliness, and is not meant to express either a red or blue viewpoint. I do not want this blog to be a political war zone, and political comments from either side will not be published.]

I left Legoland’s address in our room, but our Garmin GPS gadget has an entry for “Legoland”. I punched that in (hoping that it wouldn’t take us to Legoland Denmark). For mysterious reasons it took us to the delivery entrance. So here we are, in a mini-van, in a line of delivery trucks and other Garmin using mini-vans, trying to find our way to the regular parking lot. While the kids went nuts because they could see Legoland over the fence, and couldn’t figure out why we weren’t getting out of the car and going in. By the time we got in to the park my parents had fallen asleep on a bench at the entrance while waiting for us.

I was in line for the Dragon rollercoaster when my cell phone rings. It’s Mary back at my office. Dr. Unka, a cardiologist in my town, is looking for me. So I called him back.

Dr. Grumpy: “Hi Unka, this is Ibee Grumpy.”

Dr. Unka: “Ibee, one of my patients had a stroke this morning. He’s over at the hospital, and I need you to consult on him.”

Dr. Grumpy: “Thanks, Unka, but I’m at Legoland”.

Dr. Unka: “Is that at the mall?”

Dr. Grumpy: “No, it’s in San Diego.”

Dr. Unka: “So when will you get here to see him?”

Dr. Grumpy: “I’m on vacation.”

Dr. Unka: “Well, he’s had a stroke. Couldn’t you just fly home for a few hours to take care of this?”

Dr. Grumpy: “Unka, I’m not going to take a day off my trip to see a consult. Why don’t you call the neurologist on call?”

Dr. Unka: “I don’t trust him.”

Dr. Grumpy: “I’m flattered, Unka, but I can’t come back for 1 patient.”

Dr. Unka: “Okay, I’ll keep him at the hospital until you get back.”

I love Legoland. It gives a parent hope. Some days you think your kid will never grow up to find a job he’s capable of, and here there’s a park built entirely out of Legos, some of it quite remarkable, and you realize that maybe this is something your child can do. I know mine can spend all day building stuff with Legos, then losing them in the sofa cushions. So why can't they do this for a living?

(click to enlarge)

Mrs. Grumpy brought the kids a snack consisting of crackers and 2 flavors of instant spray-on cheese. They ate the crackers and had a fight with the spray-on cheese (like it was silly string) while standing in line for “Captain Cranky’s Challenge”, showering other riders with artificial dairy products. I dragged them out of line to keep other happy families from killing them, and put them on a water ride to hose down.

While dragging them off for something more substantial, I was in line behind 2 obese women who were talking about the food at Legoland, and how much they liked that it was healthy. In particular the fact that they had apple fries at one place (deep fried apple slices, served with a side of heavy cream), and they thought that was a form of health food. If you consider that healthy, I can see why you are the size of a bus.

If your kids like Splash Mountain, DO NOT take them on the log ride at Legoland. It has to be the wimpiest log ride, ever. It is never a good sign when the log ride can only have 3 logs going at a time.

They have a ride called Bionicle Blasters. This is a tamer version of the Disney teacups. But my kids, always interested in any ride that might make me nauseas and vomit in public, got me on board. It was a windy afternoon, and the ride wasn't too bad until a large hairy animal suddenly flew into our car. My horror was replaced by shock when I looked up and realized that it was the hairpiece belonging to a sheepish appearing bald man in the car next to ours.

I took the kids on the Legoland mini-golf course. Never a good idea with Marie (for those of you who aren’t aware of her golfing skills, read the last 2 paragraphs of this post). On the 5th hole she teed off like she was trying to hit the ball to Catalina, narrowly missing a pregnant lady and knocking a chunk off the claw of a Lego statue of a grizzly bear. I put the chunk back in place and returned to the game. And carefully helped Marie swing on future holes.

After our exciting day at Legoland, my Dad wanted to take the family to a nearby Italian restaurant. It was in a strip mall, and had a sign in the window that said "We Make Our Own Sausage". This is not normally a big deal, but the next business over in the strip mall was an animal hospital. I suggested going to Costco for pizza, but got voted down. But I still didn’t try the sausage.

After dinner we went back to Legoland, only to find it had closed for the night. That’s early for an amusement park. I can only assume that it was past bedtime for the guys who build the big Lego stuff.

Our attempts to read and relax back at the hotel were shattered (along with a glass candy jar) when a swordfight broke out in our room.

And that’s the way it is.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Grumpy Summer Vacation, Day 1

We met my parents in San Diego this year. They’re staying at a Residence Inn, but Mrs. Grumpy had made reservations for us at a different place miles away. The clerk she booked it with told her it was in a "safe, family, neighborhood".

When we got here after a long 2-day drive it was nice to learn that local families felt safe in a hotel that was bordered on one side by Les Titties Gentleman's Club and on the other by the Vick Hubcap Emporium and Doberman Stables. It was also reassuring, when we pulled through the barbed wire automatic gate, that the hotel was patrolled by an armed ex-convict walking a Rottweiler around the parking lot, and there was a line of couples at the check-in desk who looked like they were only planning on using the room for 30 minutes at most. The clerk reminded me of Pee-Wee Herman's character in "Cheech and Chong's Next Movie".

Mrs. Grumpy, concerned our children might be allergic to Rottweiler teeth, immediately called my parents and begged them to find us a room at their hotel, explaining that I wasn't comfortable with the pleasant looking place she'd picked out (LIAR!). Fortunately, there was plenty of space there.

We went over to that hotel. My mother was waiting for us by the curb, and had thoughtfully brought a large metal luggage cart out for us. We loaded it up with all the junk a family of 5 travels with: clothes, extra clothes, clothes I've never seen before in my life but magically appeared in our trunk during the drive, hangers, Nintendo DS, DS games, DVD movies to make them watch (at gunpoint if needed), a portable DVD player, Lunchables, Uncrustables, Inedibles, magazines, books, coloring books, puzzle books, stuffed animals, medicines, suntan lotion (3 strengths), 2 cell phones (with both car and wall chargers), bags of toiletries, snacks, 12-packs of Diet Coke, coupon books, hats, sunglasses, pool toys, sand toys, hotel room toys, crayons, pencils, paper, juice boxes, a roll of film (WTF? we only have digital cameras!), my faithful laptop, AA batteries, AAA batteries, batteries of a type not seen since Edison made them, books, cameras, glue, tape, and other assorted items Mrs. Grumpy felt was essential. By the time we were finished the luggage cart was sagging in the middle and looked like it was on the verge of collapse. And so while Mrs. Grumpy led the kids off I went to pull the cart up to the room.

After dragging it around the parking lot looking for a ramp a few times, I asked my mom how she'd gotten it off the sidewalk. She said she hadn't seen a ramp, and had just pulled it down. This was easy when the cart was empty. But it wasn't now. And I'd be damned if I'd unload it, push it up on the sidewalk, and reload it. So off I went on a 12 mile hike pushing the Grumpy Expedition 2009 luggage down onto a local street, around a restaurant in front of the hotel, and finally up a ramp in the handicapped space on the far side of the building. And of course the place's only elevator was located on the other side of the hotel, back near our parking space. By the time I found our room I was half expecting to see my picture on a milk carton (“last seen pushing a luggage cart with possibly stolen goods”).

I staggered into the room, covered in sweat and desperately needing to pee. The clan looked at me with their best "where the hell did you go with the luggage" glares. It was hot in the room, and Mrs. Grumpy was over in the corner fighting with the air conditioning unit. It only had a power button, but nothing to control temperature, and was blowing warm air. So while I gratefully stumbled into the bathroom, she called maintenance.

They sent up a guy who showed us the temperature control, which was in a large wall-mounted box, marked "TEMPERATURE CONTROL" positioned in plain site that we’d somehow missed, or thought was a piece of abstract art, or something. We were idiots. He didn't tell us that. But you could tell he wanted to. I know the look. I give it to my stupider patients all the time. I'm sure tonight I'll be posted on his blog "Grumpy Maintenance Guy".

After such an exciting day we took the kids out for a deluxe dinner at McD’s. We pulled into the drive-thru. It was awesome. We heard this:

Mrs Grumpy: "We'd like 3 chicken chunk happy meals".

Male voice on speaker: "Okay, that's 3 chicken happy meals and what did you...” (cell phone ring noise) “Hello? Hey bitch! I'm at work! Don’t call me here! You think I got nothing better to do than listen to you yap!” (coworker's voice in background) “Hey! Keep your ugly nose out of my business and go flip some burgers or something! Sorry ma'am, what did you want to drink with those happy meals?"

Good night, Colonel Kurtz, wherever you are.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Heart of Darkness

There are some journeys in life that we try not to discuss.

They can be so dark, so disturbing, so frightening, that even the bravest of adults don’t want to talk about them. When forced to do so we use hushed voices, as if silence will protect us, to no avail. Only once, in 1983, has a movie adequately portrayed the horror of one such journey.

And we face the most dreaded journey of all at this time. And it’s the Grumpy family’s turn to address it.

The time has come to confront our worst fears and begin.

It’s Summer vacation.

Tough Choices

For those of you who don't know, an EMG/NCS is an unpleasant neurological test we do. It's to determine nerve and muscle function, and involves running electrical shocks through limbs, then sticking needles into various muscle groups. It's not horrible, but not fun, either. But it gives us a lot of useful information.

Anyway, a guy called in today to schedule one. His internist had ordered it.

My secretary explained the procedure to him, needles, shocks, blood, gore, etc. He didn't really care, but had very specific dates and times he could come for the study.

As the conversation went on it turned out that the dates and times he wanted the study done coincided with when his Mother-in-law would be at his house, and he felt the EMG/NCS was preferable to seeing her.

Another Fine Patient Quote

"I've had a rash for 15 years. It's everywhere. I mean, nobody can see it, because it's invisible. Sometimes I can see it, but doctors can't. But it's still a really bad rash. Like poison ivy, if that were invisible."

Today's Brainteaser

Today's guessing game was supplied by Mr. Mystery Patient, who called at 11:25 last night:

"Hello, mumble gargle patient of Dr. Grumpy's cough sneeze in my briefcase snap crackle pop pain medicine garble static mumble so I'll just call back in the morning."

Monday, July 6, 2009

More Allergy Fun

Today's patient quote:

"I once had a rash from Sulfa, so now I have to avoid all other Aspirin products."

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Clarifying My Position

In the heat of being pissed over the FDA panels recommendations on Acetaminophen, I didn't really clarify my position, and so got all kinds of comments and email from both sides of the aisle.

To summarize my worthless viewpoints:

1. I stand by my point about regulating cars, pools, alcohol, and tobacco. The bottom line is that no amount of guidance, laws, and regulations will EVER protect people from their own stupidity and misuse (intentional or unintentional) of ANYTHING! People such as The Angry Pharmacist's "Cracky McCrackhead Addict" will continue to do whatever the hell they want.

2. I have no problem with regulating Acetaminophen (or APAP for short) to smaller doses and/or cutting out the combo meds. I'm not sure the APAP component really does much compared to the narc, and it falsely gives the impression these drugs are less addictive.

I understand the risks of hepatic toxicity (and, from a more practical viewpoint, rebound headaches), and have counseled patients about this for years. APAP is in a HUGE number of both OTC and prescription drugs, where it's existence isn't well listed. Many of these are "me too" crap, where the public buys them without reading the ingredients, and ends up unintentionally taking too much APAP. Getting half of this junk off the shelves would be nice.

3. Pain is a serious issue. Especially for people who are suffering from terminal illness. None of us want to die in misery. In a perfect world we wouldn't need pain medications. But we don't live in one.

And that's all, folks!
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