Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Dear Patient,

I know you did it. Why, I don't have a clue.

A blue sponge that I use once a week for cleaning Ed's bowl has been sitting on the edge of that sink for 12 years. The sponge changes every few years, usually when it starts falling apart. It's not used for anything else.

I'd noted it there when I took you in. Mary pulled me out for 5 minutes to take an ER call, and when I went back in it was gone. You were standing in the center of the room, zipping your purse closed. And the sponge had vanished.

I gave you the benefit of the doubt, but a search of the room didn't turn it up. So I took emergency measures, and brought a new one from home the next day.

I have no idea why anyone would want to steal a used sponge, especially from a doctor's office. I mean, it's nowhere near the kitchen, and since its sitting next to a fish net and bottle of Betta water prep I figure it's pretty obvious what it's for (sorry if I came back you before you could grab the net, too).

The sponge has been used to scrub off countless fish turds, the fuzzy goop that grows on the glass balls at the bottom during the summer months, and whatever other disgusting things are in Ed's water. I hope you aren't using it in your kitchen, or for personal hygiene.

I don't think you're so destitute as to be unable to afford one (they cost 25¢, FFS). I also hope you didn't mistake it for some kind of snack, and are now lying in ICU dying of some horrible fish shit poisoning.

Perhaps you're secretly planning on taking it to the state board of health, to see what they can culture out of it. If the plan is to get me in trouble with them, I doubt they'll care. I'm not preparing food or medicine in that sink, or washing anything. It's used solely for changing a fish once a week.

However, we know who you are. If you read this, and are currently overwrought with guilt from your life of crime, please confess at your next appointment. In exchange I will not press charges, but will gladly give you an unopened, clean, kitchen sponge, as I feel sorry that you must resort to such lawlessness.

Yours truly,

Ibee Grumpy, M.D.

p.s. I also have an extra fish net if you need one.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Dr. Pissy still uses paper charts, and has a room near my office where he stores inactive ones.

1-2 times a year his secretary makes a list of patients who have died, and moves their charts from the front shelves to a box in the storage room.

Yesterday I was talking to Mr. Patient in my office, when Pissy's secretary wandered past my door behind him. She was struggling with a pile of charts, and looked like she might drop one at any minute.

Being a gentleman (or at least trying) I stopped talking to Mr. Patient and called out, "Hey, do you need a hand with those?"

Pissy's secretary said "No, I'm okay. I'm just putting a bunch of dead people in a box."

Mr. Patient looked startled, to say the least.

Monday, October 29, 2012

I just had to do it

I was on call this weekend, and overheard...

Unit clerk (flipping through a Rolodex) "Hey, does anyone know Jenny's number?"

Dr. Grumpy: "867-5309."

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hurricane news

As the warnings for Hurricane Sandy continue to come in ("Please remain calm, we could all be killed"), my reader Tanya noticed this incredible combination of weather alerts and an advertisement on her TV:

Thank you, Tanya!

p.s. I apologize in advance if I'm unable to post for the next few days due to power outages.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Marines: Looking for a few good men

Tomorrow, in Washington, D.C., is the Marine Corps Marathon.

My reader Amy, while trying to figure out traffic routes, discovered this, uh, interesting map of the marathon's course:

I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP! The complete map, including the above, um, segment, can be seen here.

Thank you, Amy!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Thanks, Siri

I've gotten into the habit of having Siri do minor stuff for me. Sometimes she works fine, other times... not so much.

Last night I had a marketing interview, which finished ahead of schedule. So as I got in my car I picked up the phone and said "Siri, send a text to Mrs. Grumpy: I'm done, the interview went fast."

Upon getting home I found out she received "I'm done. The interviewer and I went to France."

Thursday, October 25, 2012

October 25, 1962

The North American black bear (ursus americanus) is the smallest of the continent's 3 bear species, and (comparatively) the most docile. It generally prefers to avoid humans and be left alone.

It was the Cuban missile crisis. The 2 superpowers were locked in a potentially lethal stare-down that affected lives across the globe. Both were on a hair trigger, watching for the other to make the first move.

Volk Field, in Wisconsin, wasn't one of America's larger bases. It was primarily used for pilot training and didn't even have a control tower. Planes were directed from a command center at Duluth.

In the current state of readiness, though, the Air Force had dispersed American warplanes to many such small bases across the north. Tensions were high. There was fear that Soviet agents would try to destroy the planes or runways prior to a first strike. Extra alarms had been hurriedly rigged up everywhere, alongside the dreaded klaxon that meant "launch nuclear bombers." Armed sentries patrolled constantly.

There were no drills. The pilots and planes were ready. The men had been told that, given the world situation, if the alarm sounded it was the real thing.

It was around midnight when a sentry patrolling the Duluth command center noticed a figure just outside the security fence. As he approached, it suddenly began climbing the fence, trying to get into the restricted area. This might be it. A Russian spy, trying to sabotage the bases to let the Soviets get in a first nuclear strike.

The guard fired his gun at the figure and hit the alarm button that warned of a ground intruder. The trespasser jumped off the fence and ran back into the forest on all fours- a large black bear. But the sabotage alarm had now been activated at all the bases under Duluth's command, sending armed guards racing to protect the planes.

Except at Volk Field.

Due to an undetected wiring error when the base was hurriedly readied for bombers, the nuclear war klaxon sounded there.

Fighter crews scrambled to planes. Their mission (likely one-way) was to intercept long-range Soviet bombers coming over the North Pole. Aside from other weapons, each American plane carried a single AIR-2 "Genie" rocket with a 1.5 kiloton nuclear warhead to be used against enemy formations. The Russians, once they detected American planes heading for them, would certainly retaliate in kind.

They taxied down the runway to Armageddon. Once airborne they couldn't be recalled- they were under orders to assume any ground communication telling them to come back was from the enemy. There was no control tower to correct the error before they took off.

A quick-thinking officer in the base's command center called Duluth, and learned of the mistake. There was no war, only an errant bear. He hurriedly jumped into a truck, turned on the flashing lights, and drove onto the runway, blocking the fighters from taking off and alerting them to the mistake. He was able to stop them just in time.

It was another close call.

Those involved didn't even know what had happened for another 25 years, when the incident was officially declassified.

Life on the edge is scary.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Mary, call security.

Dr. Grumpy: "Are you married?"

Mrs. Latrodectus: "Widowed... Am I considered a widow if I killed my husband?"

Dr. Grumpy: "Um, I really don't know."

Mrs. Latrodectus: "Then just put down that I'm single."

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


When I was in residency, there was a married couple in the program, Peter and Stephanie. They were often on call together, one supervising ICU and the other wards, or vice versa. Both were seniors, and I was just starting out.

One night when I was working with Peter, there was a code. Both on-call teams ran to it. Since I was the junior resident my job was to stay out of the way, but look like I was doing something important. Like leaning against a wall to keep it from collapsing.

Peter and Stephanie were at the head of the bed. She was setting up to intubate the patient, and Peter was watching the heart monitor and calling for meds (they were REALLY into this sort of shit. Another resident once told me that codes were probably their idea of foreplay). At one point Peter tore off a rhythm strip, handed it to me, turned back to the bed and yelled, "Sweetie! Can you intubate him now?"

There was a (pardon the phrase) dead silence.

The code stopped for a few seconds and all eyes were on the married couple. Finally, Stephanie said (with icicles on every syllable):

"Don't call me 'Sweetie' during a code."

Then she intubated the guy, and the code continued.

I don't remember if the patient made it, but I know I almost lost it.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Skool Nerse Time

Ms. Concern: "Hello?"

Mrs. Grumpy: "Hi, this is Nurse Grumpy, the school nurse at Douglas C. Kenney Elementary School, calling about your daughter, Karen."

Ms. Concern: "Yes?"

Mrs. Grumpy: "She took a bite of a friend's sandwich at lunch, and it had peanuts in it. Karen swelled up really badly, and had trouble breathing. I used one of our emergency EpiPens on her. She's much better now, and resting in my office."

Ms. Concern: "Okay. Do I need to send someone to get her?"

Mrs. Grumpy: "Yeah, but I went looking through her medical forms here. Did you know she's seriously allergic to peanuts?"

Ms. Concern: "Oh, yeah, she's been that way since she was five."

Mrs. Grumpy: "But on the allergy form you filled out just 2 weeks ago you wrote 'no allergies'!"

Ms. Concern: "That's because I don't have time for school paperwork."

Mrs. Grumpy: "Well, it really helps to have an accurate medical history, for when things like this happen."

Ms. Concern: "Her pediatrician knows, and I know. Why does it have to be your business, too?"

Mrs. Grumpy (sigh): "Do you have an EpiPen for her at home?"

Ms. Concern: "Of course. I keep two of them here."

Mrs. Grumpy: "Well can you please bring one to school? So we have it available in case this happens again?"

Ms. Concern: "They both expired years ago."

Saturday, October 20, 2012

On the radio

This is the recording of an actual phone call to a Fargo radio station earlier this month.

Thank you, Tanya!

Friday, October 19, 2012


Mr. Spouse: "What kind of side effects does this have?"

Dr. Grumpy: "A few. It can cause nightmares..."

Mr. Spouse: "Hell, so can my mother-in-law."

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Dr. Grumpy: "Any major illnesses in your family?"

Mr. Clock: "My dad died early."

Dr. Grumpy: "Like in his 20's? Or 30's?"

Mr. Clock: "No, I mean between 4:00 and 5:00 in the morning."

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Mary's desk, October 16, 2012

At the check-out desk.

Mary: "All right, so your follow-up appointment is next month, here's a reminder card... and this is your receipt for today's co-pay... Annie will call you to schedule the tests... Anything else?"

Mr. Suit: "Could you please fax something for me?"

Mary: "Sure, is it the form the doctor filled out?"

Mr. Suit: "No, it's this business report." (opens briefcase, pulls out HUGE folder and a list of fax numbers) "I need you to send a copy to my company's New York office, another to Calgary, one to Los Angeles, and..."

Mary: "Um, no. I thought it was something for your medical care. That sort of thing you'll have to have your own secretary do."

Mr. Suit: "Well, she's busy preparing reports like this."

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Nigel? Are you out there?

I was doing an epilepsy survey last night and suddenly realized that


This survey goes up to 11!!!

Monday, October 15, 2012


Mary usually shows up around 7:30 each morning. Today, at about 7:45, she called my cell.

Dr. Grumpy: "Hi, you okay?"

Mary: "Yeah, but I'm stuck in traffic, there's a big wreck at 12th and Carson. Looks like a blue car smashed into a truck, and the intersection is closed. It's going to be a while. Sorry."

Dr. Grumpy: "I'm glad you're okay. Don't worry about it. I'll see you when you get here."

I wandered up to her desk and got paperwork ready for the new patient coming at 8:00, then began looking through some MRI reports. As I was sitting there a voicemail came in:

"Hi, I have an appointment 8:00, and I'm not going to be able to make it.  Some asshole in a blue car rear-ended my truck on Carson street on the way to your office and..."

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Picture day

Yesterday we made our usual weekend run to Costco to load up on Diet Coke and other life sustaining nutrients.

Starting in October, Costco puts up large displays of Christmas trees and other holiday home decorations, some of which can be quite elaborate, to show people how the items look out of the box.

As we walked around we noticed 2-3 families, each with their kids nicely dressed up in Christmas-type outfits. They were posing the youngsters in front of the displays and taking pictures for family Christmas cards.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Advantages of getting a flu shot

At your friend the pediatrician's office: Cool band-aids!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Patient quote of the day

"When things are the same they're the same, but when they're different they're not the same."

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Practice makes perfect

I'm examining Mr. Patient, with his wife sitting off to the side.

Dr. Grumpy: "Okay, hold your hands out in front, like this... now close your eyes... good, now open your eyes, and tap your right fingers like this... okay, now your left fingers..."

Out of the corner of my eye I notice Mrs. Patient doing the same things I'm asking her husband to do.

Dr. Grumpy: "Ma'am, why are you doing that?"

Mrs. Patient: "Just practicing, in case I ever need to see a neurologist."

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Great moments in Jewish parenting


Mary's desk, October 9, 2012

Mrs. Bulova: "Hello?"

Mary: "Hi, Mrs. Bulova. This is Mary, at Dr. Grumpy's office. I'm calling because you're 10 minutes late for your appointment, and you're always punctual. So I wanted to make sure everything is okay."

Mrs. Bulova: "That can't be! My appointment is at 2:30, and my watch says it's only 1:15 now!"

Mary: "I'm sorry, but it's actually 2:40. I can re-schedule you, though. Maybe your watch is broken? Or you need to wind it?"

Mrs. Bulova: "It's funny, I noticed last night that it said 1:15 while I was having dinner, and it said the same thing later when I was getting ready for bed, and also this morning, when I woke up. I thought that was weird, but it makes sense now."

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Reasons to keep beer in the break room

Like most offices, we have stuff on the front counter. A clipboard with a sign-in sheet. A little clock. A pen holder. A plastic & metal cow-like thing that shows the date. Business card holders.

Yesterday a lady came in for an appointment, towing 3 toddlers with her. After signing in she took everything except the clipboard off the counter and handed them to her kids to play with!

When Mary asked her to put them back, she got angry and said "You act like this is my problem, that your office doesn't have stuff around to keep kids busy."

For those of you wondering: No. Neither of us sees kids in our practices.

Monday, October 8, 2012


Yesterday I was at local mall with the kids, when they started whining about being hungry. So I took them to the food court.

While they were inhaling burgers, I got a phone call from the ER, and wandered off to a quieter area to talk. Without paying attention, I ended up standing next to a kiosk selling phone accessories.

Dr. Grumpy: "Is she on Coumadin?"

Kiosk Guy: (comes over, taps me on shoulder) "Hey! You need a new iPhone case!"

Dr. Grumpy: "No thank you, I'm busy right now. What did her head CT show?"

Kiosk Guy: "This one is on sale! It lights up when you're on the phone!"

Dr. Grumpy: (waves guy away again) "Who's her cardiologist? Do they know what's going on yet?"

Kiosk Guy: "Your phone case is falling apart! You should get this one!"

Dr. Grumpy: "Hang on, ERP... Look, this is an important call. Can't you see I'm on the phone?"

Kiosk Guy: "No! That's why you need a case that lights up!"

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Weekend reruns

When the kids were younger, we had a part-time nanny named Syndee. I was anything but fond of her. I don't remember how Mrs. Grumpy found her.

Syndee did a good job with the kids, so I turned a blind eye to her many shortcomings (which could be several posts alone). Her main issue was a remarkable lack of IQ and common sense. It was not uncommon to realize she'd been outsmarted by Snowball (and he's slow). She occasionally still calls to see if we need a babysitter. Rarely she'll call me for medical questions, as she does not grasp the concept of what being a specialist means. She's also learned (since she knows our home number) that it's easier to reach me than her own doctor.

Last week Syndee got married, and went off to Hawaii for her honeymoon.

This morning, at 12:05 a.m., I was woken by our home phone ringing.

Dr. Grumpy: "Mmmph, hello?"

Syndee: "Hi! Dr. Grumpy! It's me, Syndee!"

Dr. Grumpy: "What the hell?... Syndee do you know what time it is?"

Syndee: "Sure! It's just after dinner! Why, is your clock broken?"

Dr. Grumpy: "No, it's after midnight here."

Syndee: "It is not! I wouldn't call that late!"

Dr. Grumpy: "Syndee, you're in another time zone."

Syndee: "What's a time zone?"

Dr. Grumpy (sigh): "Why did you call Syndee?"

Syndee: "Well, um, In the last few days I've developed a bladder infection and..."

Dr. Grumpy (seeing an opportunity to get even): "What the HELL have you been doing on your honeymoon to get a bladder infection?"

Syndee: "Well, um, my husband and me, um we, um... Can you just call in some antibiotics for me?"

Dr. Grumpy: "Why don't you call your regular doctor for this?"

Syndee: "Her office is closed, and I don't want to bother her."

Dr. Grumpy: "Good night, Syndee." (hangs up)

Friday, October 5, 2012

Overheard at the nursing station

Morning shift-change check-out:

Nurse 1: "Your patient in room 822 is going to a nursing home in 20 minutes."

Nurse 2: "Oh, good. I love to start my day with a discharge."

Surrounding nurses & doctors start snickering.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Wednesday afternoon

Mrs. Bos: "I need to find a new internist."

Dr. Grumpy: "What's up? You've been with Dr. Moonray for years?"

Mrs. Bos: "He went to some seminar on 'natural health' and now he tells me that my epilepsy is from drinking milk. He said that if I stop all dairy products, my epilepsy will cure itself, and I can quit taking Depakote."

Dr. Grumpy: "You've had epilepsy since you were a kid, haven't you?"

Mrs. Bos: "Yeah, and it runs in my family. My sister actually died a few years ago when she stopped her medications, and he says I should sue her doctor because he never discussed stopping milk with her."

Dr. Grumpy: "Wow."

Mrs. Bos: "Yeah, and when I told him that I liked and trusted you, he told me you were secretly being paid by the pharmacy and dairy companies to hide the truth about medications and milk from your patients."

Dr. Grumpy: "WHAT?!!!"

Mrs. Bos: "Yeah, that's exactly what I said."


Dr. Grumpy: "Let me give you some names..."

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Rounding in the ICU

Dr. Lung: "Ibee! Do you drive a Hyundai Sonata?"

Dr. Grumpy: "No. I have an old Nissan Maxima."

Dr. Lung: "Well, someone in a Hyundai Sonata hit me in the parking lot."

Dr. Grumpy: "I'm sorry, I hope you find out who it was."

Dr. Lung: "It had to be another doctor. The Hyundai next to me has a dent that matches mine."

Dr. Grumpy: "Okay, I'm going down to ER..."

Dr. Lung: "It's going to cost a fortune to fix, too. Can you believe the way people are?"

Dr. Grumpy: "No, I'll see you later..."

Dr. Lung: "It makes you wonder whatever happened to professional courtesy when things like this happen. Maybe it was a medical student. Or a PA. Or..."

Dr. Grumpy: "I think they have to park across the street. Oh, I better take this call...Hello? This is Dr. Grumpy." (psychotically answers phone that didn't ring, walks away quickly)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I bet

Dr. Grumpy: "Any major illnesses run in your family?"

Mr. Cath: "My father had heart disease, but didn't know it until after he was dead. When his doctor told him he'd died of a heart attack, Dad was shocked."

Monday, October 1, 2012

"Hey, this Mu Shu pork tastes like..."

Yep. Not much more to say.

Thank you, Don!

Red, too

Mrs. Ganglia: "And when the headache was really bad, the right side of my face was drooping."

Dr. Grumpy: "Was it really drooping, or just feel like it was drooping?"

Mrs. Ganglia: "It was really drooping! Wait, hang on, Gary took a picture of it..."  whips out iPhone, holds it up. "Here, take a look."

On her iPhone is displayed a picture of a remarkably muscular 20-something human male, with washboard 6-pack abs, naked except for his snowboots. He's holding his erect penis in his right hand and pointing to the camera with his left.

Mrs. Ganglia: "Oh GOD! That's not it..." (swipes frantically a few times) "Here it is. You can see my face is drooping."

Dr. Grumpy: "Yes, yes, you can."
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