A few days ago I found myself looking at the Moon, as one does. It wasn’t full enough to be worth howling at but it was nearly there, and it put me in mind of three similar words of which I am quite fond. They are gibbous, glabrous and glaucous. Gibbous I had been looking … Continue reading Glug-glug-glug
A little under three years ago I fractured my T12 vertebra while squatting in the gym with a 70Kg barbell on my shoulders. At the time I didn’t know that the bones had been weakened by myeloma (a form of bone marrow cancer). It was remarkably painful. They gave me some paracetamol (personal trainers are … Continue reading What they don’t teach you in medical school about pain-killers
Glory, Glory, Alleluia! I'm the luckiest of femalesFor I've danced with a man, who's danced with a girl, who's danced with the Prince of Wales.Song by Herbert Farjeon, 1927 When it comes to social connections it is said that there are only six degrees of separation between any two people in the World. This idea … Continue reading Odd jobs
Patients always complain of backache. Nobody ever tells you they've got frontache. Harold Ellis, Professor of Surgery, Westminster Medical School When I was a student the emphasis was on the diagnostic information that you could get from pain. Where is it? What brings it on? Is it sharp or dull? Is it constant or does … Continue reading What they don’t teach you in medical school about pain (and some of what they do)
Two years ago I contracted acute epiglottitis. This isn't something you see very much these days because it's usually caused by Haemophilus influenzae, and babies are vaccinated against this at birth. I'm too old to have been vaccinated, and in any case I am significantly immunosuppressed by my cancer and its treatment, so there is … Continue reading DNAR
This post is primarily aimed at fellow medics, so forgive me if it is a bit technical in places. The first thing we learn in medical school once we have been released onto the wards is how to examine patients. Actually the first thing they taught me was how to take blood. We were each … Continue reading Things they don’t always teach you at medical school
The arrival of the latest addition to the Royal Family got me thinking about a probability problem which is quite straightforward on the face of it but which most people get wrong: A pregnant woman attends for her routine ultrasound scan, and the sonographer diagnoses twins, telling her that one of them is certainly a … Continue reading It’s a boy! Probably.
I once had a rather odd conversation with a patient, which went something like this: "Tell me, Doc, how long have I got left?" "I can't really give you a very good answer to that." "Well, put it this way: Do you think I will last the Summer?" "Yes, I think there's a reasonably good … Continue reading How long have I got, Doc?