Plain tales from the surgery

A family affair
I dictated a letter on behalf of a patient who had missed a hospital outpatient appointment. On checking the letter I noticed that the reason for not attending was an 'exasperation' of family problems. I had intended the letter to read 'exacerbation' of family problems, but decided that the draft version was quite accurate.

Dr Nigel Williams, Edinburgh, Scotland

On your bike
Some years ago a young teenage couple came to see me for what they announced was 'just some advice mate'.

One wore a badge which said 'Flies can spread disease - so keep yours done up'. That set the tone. The other did all the speaking, with a rather high-pitched voice, and the subject was a mumbling tale which seemed loosely related to sex, contraception and an approaching camping holiday in Cornwall.

They both wore similar worn jeans and T-shirts and were very thin with very long hair. It was initially quite hard going to tell which might be a bride later in the year. So to test a few things, mainly what they actually knew about sex, I asked them: 'Please may I ask which of you has the menstrual cycle?' 'Must be her' grunted one. 'Mine's a Honda.'

Dr Pete Rowan, Diss, Norfolk

Bowel sounds
I visited an elderly gentleman at home who was constipated and asked him about his medications. His daughter, who was present at home, told me the list of drugs he was taking. She said: 'One of his friends was taking "Let You Loose".' Lactulose can certainly make the bowels loose.

Dr Jagadish Boyapati, Dresden, Stoke on Trent

Plague of patients
One of my patients is a hypochondriac. Recently, he had a mild fever and rash which he concluded was due to a variant of bubonic plague.

When I could not concur with his diagnosis he snapped: 'You'll listen to me when I'm dead!' I hope he will not be back to haunt me.

Dr Owen Gallagher, County Antrim

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