Shop Talk

Recently my husband and I went out to dinner with two other couples. Everyone at the table (except me) was a doctor. Did I feel intimidated? Absolutely not. Having seen a lot of doctors in my life as a patient and socially, and sleeping with one every night, I know they’re just regular people. Some of them aren’t even all that smart! Of course, this night all of my dining companions were very intelligent, so I felt right at home. 😉 I also felt very safe in case I were to choke on a chicken bone or have a heart attack while scarfing down delicious Indian food.

I was uncharacteristically quiet during much of the meal. I find discussions among medical professionals to be pretty entertaining. This particular group was two family practitioners, two ER doctors, and my husband the internist. Each specialist has widely different experiences. The emergency room doctors obviously work in a fast-paced environment where they have to make quick decisions and move on. The family docs spend more time with patients and develop life-long relationships with many since they see infants to adults. My husband also develops relationships with patients, but he doesn’t see kids. (an internist specializes in adult medicine and his youngest patients are in their teens).

Good doctors aren’t going to tell tales on any specific patients, but they might have some interesting experiences to share. Maybe a kid comes into the ER with a fish stick up her nose or a 300lb patient lost half his body weight after years of trying. If you really want to hear some funny stories, though, ask doctors about their training. Most of them have some great stories about the several years they spent learning their craft. Four years of medical school and a minimum of three years of residency yield a treasure trove of unexpected experiences.

For instance, when my husband was a medical student he actually had to put on a hazmat suit to perforate an anal abscess and he describes the experience in riveting, excruciating detail. After 27 years it is still fresh in his mind!

I also love the story of when he just graduated medical school and we moved to the DC area because he was in the Navy. The night before he would start his internship in the naval hospital, we were grocery shopping. We were perusing the frozen foods when a frantic voice came over the loud speaker. “If there’s a doctor in the store please go to the produce section immediately!” I looked at my husband and he was just obliviously examining the chicken patties. “That’s you, honey! YOU’RE a doctor!” He looked like a wide-eyed little kid on stage who forgot all his lines, but eventually ran over to the produce section where a woman was spread eagle on the floor with a busted watermelon all around her. Thank goodness an elderly dentist got there first and was reviving her. (She ended up being just fine!)

All doctors have unique stories about their training, depending on their specialty, so if you have the opportunity to chat, don’t be shy. And if you find yourself in the presence of a urologist, just sit yourself down next to her for the rest of the night. You will not be disappointed! Urologists have the BEST tales to tell.

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