Archive for March, 2011|Monthly archive page

When the Craving Hits

In Food, Medicine on March 24, 2011 at 4:21 pm

No matter what profession you’re in, you have your share of wacky work stories.  And medicine is no exception.  Funny medical stories are often difficult to tell because patient confidentiality is so important.  But humour does get you through the day, and with a little careful identifying-detail changing, presto, you have a tellable story! 

One of the craziest things that happened to me was when I was an intern, many many years ago now.  I was on overnight call and running around like crazy at 2:30 AM when I got paged by a nurse in a unit in an adjoining building.

“Can you please come see Mr. X?”

“Sure, what’s the problem?”

“He has our nurse manager in a headlock.”

Silence.  I was sure my fatigued mind was playing tricks on me.

“I’m sorry, he what?”

“He has our nurse manager in a headlock.  You know, like when you put both arms around someone’s neck –”

“Oh dear.”  Crap, I heard it correctly.  “Have you called security?”

“No, my supervisor wants you to come first.”

“Um, I’m on my way, but I should let you know — I’m five-foot-one.  Call security.”

I made the ten-minute run to the next building, all the while mentally scrolling through everything they taught us in med school about releasing staff members from headlocks.  Oh that’s right — they didn’t.  I arrived to find three uniformed police officers waiting outside the room for me to go in and defuse the situation.  (They wanted to make sure it was safe for their men.)  

I entered to find a 6’3″, 250-lb male patient who wanted to express his concerns about the hospital menu.   Was I aware that real butter was not being served with the rolls?  Or that dinner was being delivered at 5:30 PM when in Europe many people don’t eat until 9?  Or of the difficulty in obtaining a quality PB&J sandwich after hours?  No sir, I was not.  I wondered aloud, would he be interested in having the hospital dietician visit him on rounds with the medical team in the morning?  After some consideration … why yes, he would.

I escorted the unlucky (but unhurt) nurse out and assured the three hulking officers in the hall that it was safe for them to enter, now that they no longer needed to.  Did I mention that I’m five-foot-one?  Because I was.  And am.

(Apparently all went well with that patient after the next day.  He seriously was just trying to let us all know how much he wanted a PB&J.)

As a totally unrelated aside, our heartfelt prayers are with all those suffering in Japan.  If you’d like to donate, go here:


That’s What She Said

In Baby Howie, Celebrity Obsessions, Tolkien on March 13, 2011 at 1:21 am

Given my somewhat obsessive personality, it’s rather surprising that I am not a rabid follower of more TV shows.  This is mainly a function of time, in that I don’t have any.  When I was a carefree youth, I cultivated my lifelong love of Full House (and no matter what he tells you, Baby Howie was a very willing partner in crime in this endeavour.)  But though that admittedly slightly lame show will always hold a place in my heart, I eventually moved on to my current love: the American version of The Office

One John.

Two Johns.

More articulate writers than I have already noted that The Office‘s charm comes from its mastery of the awkward moment.  Personally, I also love its commitment to subtlety.  There’s something very respectable about having enough confidence in your audience that you don’t feel you need to hit them over the head with your humour.  As exemplified by the fact that the framed certificate hanging behind Michael’s desk reads “Congratulations!  You are the proud owner of a Seyko timepiece” — which is of course misspelled, and which to my knowledge has never actually been mentioned in the show.  I appreciate that they’re just counting on us to notice it.  And then there are some awesome lines, such as the following choice vignettes:

Phyllis: Does everyone know my boyfriend, Bob Vance?

Kevin: Kevin Malone.

Bob: Bob Vance, Vance Refrigeration.

Stanley: Stanley Hudson.

Bob: Bob Vance, Vance Refrigeration.

Ryan: Ryan Howard.

Bob: Bob Vance, Vance Refrigeration.


Ryan: What line of work you in, Bob?

… and:

Michael: You know what they say the best medicine is.

Kevin: Well the doctor said a combination of interferon and dacarbazine.

Michael: Well, and laughter, also.

… and:

Kevin: Hey Jan, you went to a sperm bank?

Jan: Uh, yes, I did.

Kevin: I donated sperm.

Jan:  Oh.

Kevin: Maybe I’m the father.

Jan: Well this is a highly exclusive establishment.

Kevin: The one behind the IHOP?


Jan: (to the camera) It’s not Kevin’s child. Can’t possibly be. I mean, I don’t know what I would do. Sue… icide?

… and:

Jim: This is parkour. Internet sensation of 2004. And it was in one of the Bond films. It’s pretty impressive. The goal is to get from point A to point B as creatively as possible, so technically, they are doing parkour, as long as point A is “delusion” and point B is “the hospital.”

But the thing I like most about this show, and I don’t think I am in the minority here, is Jim and Pam (or in diehard online-Office parlance, JAM.)  Their romance has been so sweet, so understated, and so funny throughout the arc of the show.  Who can forget Jim’s longing for Pam?  Or what was possibly their most defining on-screen moment?

(You can watch a much better-quality version of the full scene here:

The show has definitely not been the same over the past few seasons.  At this point, it’s looking like it peaked in Season 2.  (In fact, this used to be Tolkien’s and my favourite show, but T can hardly bear to watch it anymore.)  And the impending departure of Michael Scott (I heard Steve Carell taped his final scene last week) cannot be anything but bad news.  But it’s OK, because we’ll always have the old days on DVD.  And you know what else?  Bears.  Beets.  Battlestar Galactica.