As many of you know, I have a book for sale. Just a Spoonful of Laughter Helps the Medicine Go Down is available in the office or here on line. Yesterday, I started working on the second edition. Not really. But something funny happened in the office worthy of making print.
I am always a little reluctant to accept neighbors or friends as patients. Not that I treatÂ a person anyÂ differently in the office than I do at home, but I like to keep my two lives, physician or friend, completely separate. I have lost a friend or two when their medical care goes less than ideal because of conflicts–usually between my office staff and them. And I fear a friend taking advantage of our relationship to acquire narcotic medications.
Yesterday, I took care of a neighborÂ in the officeÂ who had come for a routine physical examÂ but had recently smashed his great toe and was suffering quite a bit of pain from blood that had accumulated under the toe nail. In medicalese, we call that a subungal hematoma. It sounds far more serious that way and allows us to charge extra money for the simple procedure of drilling a whole in the nail to relieve the pressure.
I actually don’t drill a hole but prefer to burn one instead. I have a very handy device that simply burns through the nail in about two seconds. It doesn’t even hurt as long as I am careful enoughÂ to stop once I pierce the nail and not push it all the way through the toe. I’ve done it a hundred times and it works great. Well, until yesterday.
I was simply trying to be sure that the pressurized blood didn’t get on my new, clean lab coat when the blood came spurting out. I wasÂ holding the 4×4 gauze pad close to the nail just for that purposeÂ when all of a sudden things started heating up. I mean that literally. The damn gauze caught fire and singed the hair on his toes before I could call the fire department or get a burning permit.
How embarrassing! And I am sure that I may have seen him walking around the neighborhood last night,Â going door to door and telling each of my other neighbors what a baffoon I was in the office. Now I will probably lose my position as president of the Garden Terrace Lane Housing Association too. I was just glad that his cheap polyester pants didn’t also catch on fire.