Plain Tales From The Surgery

Old soldiers never die
I was asked by a social worker to review the cognition of a 91-year-old man she had seen. I ran through the mini-mental questions with him.

I was surprised that when I asked him when World War II started, he replied: 'The third of September'. 'What year?' I asked. 'Do you mean the Phoney War or when it really started?' I was impressed and although he didn't know or care that Gordon Brown was prime minister (who does?) he then took me through a day-by-day account of World War II. I made my excuses in about May 1943 and promised to go back for the end of the war another day.

Dr Jack Hickey, Maidstone, Kent

Making a meal of it
A 9-year-old boy came to see me during a routine surgery with his mother.

She told me her son had been getting into trouble at school and had once been sent out of the class for excessive flatulence. I turned to her son and asked him what his favourite food was.

'Baked beans,' he replied.

'He has them most days with his meals,' said his mother. It didn't take long to reach a sensible conclusion for tackling the 'problem'.

Dr Eric Wilkinson Arundel, West Sussex

Troublesome coughs
An incident occurred mid-morning on an out-of-hours shift.

The patient had been woken at 2am by a bout of coughing, and had decanted 10ml of linctus into his measuring container and swigged it back.

Surprised by the strange taste he switched on his bedside light to discover he had drunk his menthol and eucalyptus inhalation. I suspected it would be relatively harmless but contacted the poisons unit who informed me of possible toxic GI symptoms within a few hours of ingestion.

I rang back to reassure the patient that any possible problems had probably already passed.

'Did it help with the cough?' I asked.

'No,' he said, 'but I have the best smelling breath in Devon.'

Dr Kevin Brown, Bideford, Devon

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