Friday, 17 September 2010


My call for anecdotes has been answered. This comes from a contributor who claims not to have been directly involved, and that the story goes back some years, so the story could be apocryphal. Still I like it.

The story concerns a patient with a severe acute lung condition who found himself tracheostomised, and ventilated in an ITU for many weeks. Though mostly conscious and orientated he obviously found it difficult to communicate. One of the ITU Consultants, Dr P, felt particularly for this aspect of ITU patients’ care and spent some time one to one with the patient. He then found out about a new type of tracheostomy tube which had an auxiliary air inlet, directing a small amount of gas upwards from the tube, the object being that the patient could then phonate and speak. This excited Dr P and he sent off for one. He spent much time with the patient explaining to him what was going to be done and what should result.

The great day arrived and the tube was changed, and the gas supply attached. Dr P sat attentively by the patient waiting to hear the patient’s  first words for many weeks. The patient looked at Dr P. After a few unsuccessful attempts he got the idea and the words came, garbled but comprehensible. “Why don’t you fuck off and leave me alone”


  1. “Why don’t you f**k off and leave me alone”

    - "Because I care", says the doctor

    - "Because I know how much you're hurting and how no one else cared"

    - "Because I know that despite the shocking attitude and language to match sometimes, there is a real human being inside there and an intelligent and sincere person who still has lots and lots to offer. I want you to know that I understand and that I do care"

    Doctor extends a hand to the patient

    What will the patient do next? Will he take that hand? Or, just come up with another array of 'super expressions' to further shock the doctor?

  2. On the other hand perhaps doctors can be guilty sometimes of losing sight of what the patient is thinking, and following their own perception of what is in the patient's best interests. Ever heard the phrase "doctor knows best"?

  3. True, and yes I have.

    Thank you