Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Frankie says relax

Patients with foreign objects stuck in their bottoms - universally - have a great cover story. It's never an awkward admission that something went wrong. Never a wry smile, never an acceptance that certain events led inexorably to their wholly-foreseeable conclusion.

Instead? "I fell on it, Doctor".

In order to believe this, I would have to believe that:

- a surprisingly large number of people are INCREDIBLY unlucky


- a lot of people who would quite like the experience of having something up their bottoms do a lot of DIY, at considerable heights, and then fall with something approaching good fortune directly onto the object of their desire.

During some work experience abroad, for example, I met a patient who had been admitted to hospital after changing a lightbulb in his kitchen. I know you think you know where this is going. Clearly, this hapless man could have slipped, and fallen onto the item he was holding. Could have happened to any one of us.

Except that this middle-aged man had fallen onto CORN-ON-THE-COB. With a tenacity available only to the truly desperate, he insisted that he often started cooking his evening meal at the same time as performing simple DIY in the kitchen. He promised to be more careful in the future.

Back in the UK, every hospital I trained at had its own collection of X-rays showing a variety of items stuck up people's bottoms. Some of these items were chosen with a real flair for creativity - or perhaps necessity. But the accidental nature of their insertion was always the same.

Ironically, the only person I've encountered to be truly honest about his "back story" (sorry) couldn't tell us much about it. He didn't know what was up there. In his words, "it could be a vibrator, it could be an aerosol can". At a meeting of like-minded individuals, he had been so out of it that he just didn't know what had been placed inside him.

However good the explanation sounds during the rehearsal on the way to the hospital, the chances are it'll be excruciating for all concerned when it is trotted out in A&E.

In an age where there really are no more taboos, the only surprising thing about the whole repetitive saga is that people continue to wheel out the same excuse rather than just opening up.

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