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Comfort Always

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Guerir quelquefois, soulager souvent, consoler toujours. [to cure sometimes, to relieve often, to comfort always]
French folk saying, inscribed on statue of Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau at Saranac Lake, New York

Nature of Pain

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Today I took the bus to Seattle for my Orthopedics rotation. "Ortho" is a favorite "EM2" (Second year Emergency Medicine Resident) rotation because you can basically be a huge slacker, um...I mean, it is a great opportunity for independent learning. I set my own hours and pretty much show up whenever I want to; it's pretty much an anomally, almost unprecidented in my medical education with the possible exception of something called the "fourth year of medical school," but I digress.

Amusing the patient

The art of medicine consists in amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.

Voltaire (1694 - 1778)

Educating the masses

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"One of the first duties of the physician is to educate the masses not to take medicine."

Sir William Osler (1849 - 1919), Aphorisms from his Bedside Teachings (1961) p. 105

Orthodox medicine

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"Orthodox medicine has not found an answer to your complaint. However, luckily for you, I happen to be a quack."

from a Richter cartoon caption

Our stock-in-trade

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"But what physician has not had patients who don't make any sense at all? To tell the truth, they're our stock-in-trade. We talk and write about the ones we can make sense of."

Walker Percy

But what would you do?

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"The public blames the medical profession for giving too many tranquilizers and antidepressants. But what would you do? Doctors like to see healing as the result of their work. Yet today we often must be content with far less. There are so many things wrong with people's lives that even our best is only a stopgap."

Richard A. Swenson, MD

Things I will never do

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I keep in the back of my mind somewhere a list of things that I will not ever do. Some things are obvious, like smoking a cigarette while siphoning gasoline (saw it yesterday) but others are less apparent.

I & D: Don't try this at home

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Earlier in the academic year I did an "I&D" (incision and drainage) of a heroin addict's buttock abscess. Addicts get abscesses when they inject heroin into muscle (which they do when they have trashed all their veins). The whole procedure was captured on film (for educational purposes) and it is available for viewing on the University of Washington's website here. It is not for the feint of heart, but I recommend you have a look before you consider injecting black tar heroin into your backside. I'm the one wearing the gloves (i.e. the one without the abscess).

Lucky to be alive

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Excellent news, sports fans--I have finally figured out how to dial-up with my laptop from the hotel I'm staying at. This is good news because it means I no longer have to walk in my off evenings over to the Harborview library. County hospitals do not tend to be in the best of neighborhoods, and while I am greatful to be staying so close by, the thought has occured to me that my life might be in danger making the trip between the hotel and the hospital after dark.

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