The focus of this web site is medicine. In this blog, you’ll read about patient stories. The situations have been changed to be HIPAA compliant. You’ll also read a lot about health care policy. I may throw in posts about life lessons, computers, and will even throw in family stories once in a while. If you’re looking for articles about politics, sports, or celebrities, you’re in the wrong place – unless the topics have some relationship to medicine.
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By Birdstrike M.D. “So, I grabbed up my suitcase, and took off down the road When I got there she was layin’ on a coolin’ board” – Son House, Death Letter Blues Fourth year of medical school is great. Finally, I get some elective time. Last month was great: Dermatology, ahh…….Sleep, rest, low stress and drug rep lunches: Yum. I can still smell the delicious smoked ribs the rep brought for lunch, just last week. I’m already hungry as I drive to start my second elective month in a row. This month is going to be even more relaxed. The patients might have >gasp!< pimples and rashes like last month, but this time they probably won’t even move! After getting worked to death on 6 straight months with hospital call, this is the break I need. I walk into the building and as I get close to the bottom of the stairs, I smell something. Is that ribs, again? Wow, drug rep food already? It’s only 9 in the morning. That’s weird? Oh, well. I guess life really is good on these elective months, when you’re not getting called at 2 a.m. for a patient who might be dying. I look at the clock. Shoot, I’m a few minutes late. I open the door. A group of students and residents are standing around a table that is covered by a sheet. The smell of barbequed ribs hits my nose stronger. A bearded man on the other side of the table, waves to me to come over. That must be Dr. Black. I creep toward the others around the table as Dr. Black pulls the sheet off of the table. The overwhelming smell of smoke chokes my nose and as I see what is lurking under the sheet, I feel my stomach drop and my head get dizzy. There laying on the table is a charcoal-black human body, burned to a crisp, arms drawn up to the face in a fetal position. A few of the others turn away. I hear a gasp, and a few deep breaths as we look at each other. Oh my god, that smell! I feel like vomiting. It’s the smell of barbequed ribs, alright. Human ribs. Welcome to Forensic Pathology, I think to myself. “One thing we always do with burn victims is to x-ray them. Does anyone know why?” asks Dr. Black. “To identify them by dental records,” chirps Gunner Boy with the bow tie. “No, although we do that occasionally,” says Dr. Black. “It’s to see if there is any lead in them.” “Huh,” Gunner Boy seems puzzled. “This person died in a fire.” “Are so sure? Why might such person have lead in them?” asks Dr. Black. Now it’s my turn. “It’s because they’ll shoot them full of lead, then light the house on fire to try to cover up the evidence,” I blurt out. “Yes sir,” nods Doctor Black. Betsy, the mousy-haired girl that was in my Anatomy group looks at me disturbed, as if to ask, “How’d you know that?” “Welcome to Big City Morgue, Betsy,” I shoot back. I look down at the burnt corpse and despite the whole body being as black as a charcoal briquette, for some reason there’s a patch of skin on the right arm that’s completely unburned. It’s a tattoo that says, “Mom, I love you forever. R.I.P.” Below that is another tattoo that says, “Straight to Hell.” How unbelievably ironic, I think to myself. We move to the next table. Dr. Black pulls back the sheet. It’s an 18 year ...Read More »