A patient and his wife wait patiently in the room for evaluation of the patient’s bilateral leg pain … which has been present for two weeks.
Mostly in the back of his calves. Could it be a blood clot?
I go in the room and took a look at the patient’s legs. There are two circular two-inch bruises — one in the middle of each calf. I pressed on them to make sure they were the source of his pain. His yell and his wife’s reverse hiss confirmed my suspicions.
“It looks like your pain is from these two bruises.”
“I know that. I want to know what caused the bruises.”
“I’m not sure how I’m supposed to determine what happened to your legs two weeks ago.”
“Are you serious?” I looked at him quizzically. Was he kidding?
“Yes I’m serious. How would I be able to tell what happened to you two weeks ago?”
“You can’t do some kind of blood test or something?
He wasn’t kidding. It was the end of the shift, so I wasn’t quick enough on my feet to come up with a good comeback.
“You mean like whether you hit your legs on a chair versus whether you were bitten by a dog? No. There’s no blood test to tell what caused a bruise.”
Then the wife chimes in.
“I suppose you’re not going to be able to tell us what the mark on his back is, either.”
“Probably another bruise,” I thought to myself.
I looked at his back and there was nothing there.
“It was on the left, there. It looked like those things on his legs, but it went away.”
She wants me to tell her what caused a nonexistent mark on her husband’s back.
“If it looked like what was on his legs, then it was probably a bruise, too.”
“NAAAAH. It wasn’t a bruise.”
“Sorry then. It’s kind of tough to diagnose a mark that isn’t there any more.”
“Come on, Honey. Let’s go to Crosstown Hospital. They’ll be able to figure it out.”
This and all posts about patients may be fictional, may be my experiences, may be submitted by readers for publication here, or may be any combination of the above. Factual statements may or may not be accurate. If you would like to have a patient story published on WhiteCoat’s Call Room, please e-mail me.