Friday, November 4, 2011

The Four Horsemen Of Anatomy

Four of them came before dawn. Interns, residents, fellows, students - I've never been able to properly distinguish and categorize these young folks in white coats. Fresh minds in any case, full of the latest teachings and eager to get on with healing the world.

I've learned that the youngest whitecoats haven't yet specialized their focus enough to answer detailed questions. They poke and prod and hmmm a lot. Today's quartet, however, I recognized as neuro-somethings although I could not recall if they were of the ologist or surgeon clan but felt sure they could provide some basic answers for me.

I described Spike's pre-seizure smiles and happiness and asked if the "happiness zone" lay anywhere near the suspected seizure focal point in the right frontal lobe. I admit I felt a bit of the country rube calling it the happiness zone rather than its proper Latin name but I could stand a bit of embarrassment in the pursuit of knowledge to help little Spike.

The leader of the gang showed his long term management potential by immediately referring the question to another member of the club. With an authoritative clearing of throat, he dodgily explained that it is hard to "um, er, pin down or locate exactly where, um, emotions kind of come from." Well, yes, for a layman, I thought that to be true which is why I asked experts. Before I finished forming that thought in some unspecified area of my brain, the gang had made a speedy exit never, I suspect, to be seen at Spike's bedside again - at least not when Inquisitor Parents are near.


  1. You definitely had the surgical team at that hour in the morning! Doesn't it amaze you the hours they keep? Rounds by 0400 and still checking in on patients at 1800.... We always call the parade of docs "ducks" Mama duck is always easy to distinguish (first in the line) and then they usually stay in their pecking order - short coats (or, horrors, NO COATS) are to be seen (if necessary - as sometimes they are only able to get into the doorway depending on the count of the flock) and certainly NOT heard. They are usually the ones that come back after rounds, asking long histories and trying to come up with some brilliant contribution to the diagnostics of the case - but they are genuine and eager to learn - and often provide the best insight into the whole process. We always entertain them graciously, and encourage them strongly as they are the future of medicine! So, be nice to your fine feathered friends!!

  2. Another potential translator is the head surgeon's administrative nurse. At least where we were, that RN is who ran the show for the DR and who knew the real schedule and details.

    The good ones are able to translate, either written or spoken doc-ese into terms we laypeople can understand.

    We found them to be invaluable resources.

    Best wishes,