Plain Tales from the Surgery


I saw a man who had developed immediate shoulder pain while playing petanque.

I was suspicious that he may have torn his rotator cuff and so arranged an ultrasound scan. As this usually takes a few weeks I apologised for the delay.

He replied that it is no problem, because he was bisexual. I managed to keep a straight face, until he corrected himself by saying his was ambidextrous.

Then we both roared with laughter. I think Freud would struggle with that one.

Dr Dan Rushen, Fareham, Hampshire

Noise level handicap
I was recently called a Primary Health Care Facilitator by a new patient.

He was serious so I didn't feel inclined to disagree. He went on to describe his job, which was an assistant director for Patient Empowerment and Consumer Development. With such a control of modern language I was curious why he had attended.

'I have come to complain about what my mother was told last week,' he said.

I remembered the elderly lady in question coming with her daughter. 'You told her she was deaf,' he said.

As the lady was indeed deaf, I enquired what other words I might have used instead to describe her condition.

'How about an incremental hearing loss emergence? Or noise level handicap? Even speech fade disturbance would have been more sensitive.'

I told him I would try to learn from the experience and apologised for any unintended offence.

Dr Peter Rowan, Norwich, Norfolk

Dribbling problem
My predecessor at my current job had referred a seven-year-old whose mother had complained he was 'dribbling' excessively.

The mother came back a few weeks later rather irate because for some unexplained reason the referral had been re-routed to the adult urology clinic, which both mother and child inadvertently attended.

The urologist wrote stating 'the mother did not wish to wait for our opinion on the matter'.

Dr Zishan Ali, Windsor, Berkshire

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