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Who Was That Guy?

An elderly patient with Alzheimer’s Disease was brought by concerned family members after reportedly having blood in his stool.

I introduced myself to everyone in the room and to the patient. When I tried to obtain a history from the patient, it was clear that he didn’t recall what happened. So I began obtaining the history from the family members.

Midway through the history, the patient interrupts and says “HEY! Who IS that guy?”
“That’s the doctor, dad,” his daughter gently said.

We finished discussing the history and then I asked the patient if it was alright that I examined him.
I got through most of the exam and then explained that I needed to do a rectal examination to look for blood in his stool.
The patient’s daughter stood up and told him that he needed to pull down his pants and roll over on his side. I stepped away from the cart to get a pair of gloves and a Hemoccult card.
I heard the patient asked again “Hey. Who was that guy?”
“That’s the doctor, dad, he’s just examining you.”
“Oh, OK.”

I went back over to the bed and explained to the patient “You’re going to feel a little pressure, now.”
He tolerated the exam well.
After I was finished, I washed my hands and excused myself from the room to go send the Hemoccult card to the lab.
As I was walking out the door, the patient says “HEY! Who was that guy and why the HELL was he sticking his FINGER in my BUTT!?!?”
His daughter calmly said “That was the doctor, dad, he was just checking to see if you have blood in your stool.”
“Yeah? Well he has fingers like a gorilla!”

This and all posts about patients may be my experiences or may be submitted by readers for publication here. If you would like to have a patient story published on WhiteCoat’s Call Room, please e-mail me.


  1. I’m wondering how the hell this dude’s brain manages to piece together the massive time discontinuities. Like getting somewhere but not remembering how.

  2. I really hope I don’t have dementia (and I’m sure I don’t), but sometimes I’d drive an hour to work and not remember the drive at all. Freaky.

    • Allison …I think that comes from being tired. I heard a doc on Oprah (yrs ago)discussing how that has something to do with sleep deprivation.

      Scary ..when you realized you just drove on autopilot.

  3. Some day we may know the answer to that question – personally. But by then we will have forgotten we ever asked.

  4. “I may have Alzheimer’s, but at least I don’t have Alzheimer’s.”

    At least he remembered it was just your finger….

  5. New nickname WC?

    If I worked with you and heard that …I’d leave a bunch of bananas on your desk for when you came back on shift. ;)

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