The "Punch" Line


BoilerQ: How do you get a room full of little old ladies to all use obscene language at the same time?
A: Yell “BINGO!”

When elderly patients blurt out obscenities, most of the time it takes everything I can do not to laugh out loud. No offense intended. I just get flashbacks of my mom sitting and putting her fingers in her ears while watching scenes in certain movies or seeing her gasp in shock if an F-bomb catches her off guard. I don’t expect to hear obscenities from someone who just rolled by me with a walker. For example, a while ago I posted a story about one lady from a nursing home who caught me off guard with an MF-bomb.

But this post came about from another patient encounter that made me reflect about how the things that doctors say to patients can affect a patient’s perception.

Enter the elderly patient who hobbled past the nursing station and into a treatment room with the help of her walker. As soon as we saw the chief complaint of “rectal pain” pop up on the tracker, everyone hoped it was a hemorrhoid and not a stool impaction. The other doc pretended he didn’t see the patient go by and headed into another room to see a different patient. I put my name under the “assign doctor” tab and went into the room to see her.

“Hi! I’m Dr. WhiteCoat. How can I help you today?”
“I’m having pain in my rectal region, doctor.”
Then her husband jumps in “She had surgery to fix a fissure a few days …”
Esther got upset. “You let ME tell him, Herb. It’s MY rectum.”
Herb shut up.
“I had surgery to fix an anal fissure a few days ago and I’m still having pain in the area – especially when I go to the bathroom.”
I got some more history and then had her get undressed so I could look at the area. While she described what had taken place over the past few days, she was obviously upset about her outcome.
Esther wasn’t a petite woman and she wasn’t quite as mobile as most patients. The nurse had to help her get into a gown and then helped pull down Esther’s pants. I could immediately see why Esther was having pain. There was extensive bruising to the inner aspects of both buttocks.
“Have you told your surgeon about this?” I asked.
Despite having a spine contorted from years of progressive osteoarthritis, Esther managed to twist herself sideways to give me a stern look and resolutely state “I am never talking to that goddamn sonofabitch again in my LIFE!” She then flopped back onto her stomach on the bed.
Herb started to chime in. “We went to Dr. Rectum’s office yesterday and …”
Esther’s voice, muffled from the pillow, still cut him off. “Herb, it’s MY body. Shut up.”
Herb shut up.
“I saw the bruising yesterday, so we went to Dr. Rectum’s office yesterday to ask him about it.” She explained. “That sonofabitch told me that my butt was so big he had to have two fat guys from the hospital boiler room come and pull my butt cheeks apart so he could finish doing the surgery.”
Herb grinned.
I raised my eyebrows at him and softly shook my head.
“OK, Esther, we’ll get you some medicine for the pain and I’ll give one of our other surgeons a call.”

The other surgeon who covers for Dr. Rectum was out of town, so I ended up talking to Dr. Rectum himself.
“Bruising is normal after surgery like this.” He said. “Hers was a little more than usual, but she’ll be fine. Part of it is because of her size. We had a little difficulty retracting her buttocks. Tell her to take it easy on the opiate pain medications and continue the Sitz baths and cool compresses like we discussed. She can see me in a few days if she’s still having pain.”
“She’s pretty upset with you,” I told him. “She said you told her that her butt was so big that you needed two men from the hospital boiler room to come and hold her butt cheeks apart.”
“I told her that the traction from the tape we use is what probably caused the bruising. I jokingly told her that it wasn’t like two men came in from the boiler room had to hold her buttocks apart. And I never said anything about the size of her rear end.”
“That’s not how she remembers it. She’s refusing to ever see you again.”
“I’ll call her to apologize. My gosh. That didn’t go very well, did it?”

I told Esther what Dr. Rectum had said.
More profanities. No change of heart. She remembered what she heard, she didn’t think it was funny, and she was NOT ever seeing Dr. Rectum again.

Dr. Rectum is a good doc, but his misguided attempt at humor torpedoed the care he provided … and he was lucky that the patient didn’t complain to the administrators about her perception of a statement that men from the boiler room came into a surgical suite while she was under anesthesia.

So Esther was discharged with some stool softeners and a few pain pills.

As she was getting dressed, Herb nudged me and whispered “I thought it was pretty damn funny when she told me.”
I smirked a little and whispered back “Any good comedian knows his audience.”

Making cracks about the posteriors of hearing impaired little old ladies – definitely not doctor’s office material.


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.


  1. Me. Well Mrs Smith you have herpes in the eye
    Her. Well how dod I get that?
    Me, looking at DOB: at at drive in movie in 1953
    Her. Not amused. Got a pissed off call from daughter next day.
    Got to know the audience.

  2. OMG! LOL!!! 🙂

    You should know tho at first I was mortified and my mind was reeling …picturing maintenance guys scrubbing, gowned and doing that!!!

    The other part of my mind was way! But I was also recalling seeing maintenance guys gloved and helping to move heavy patients out of or into ambulances, etc., and I know they and housekeeping are sometimes seeing things going on and security.

    But …assisting in surgery? No way. But you had me going for a bit. 🙂

    Thanks for the laugh. 🙂

      • Well …I’ve never seen one done … but rectal surgery just seems most embarrassing.

        More embarrassing than anything vaginal and since I equate the male shwing-schwang area with the female bajingo (counterparts) …I see the rectal area more embarrassing than both.

        Thus …it is perfectly logical to me that if embarrassing surgeries were registered on an embarrassment meter …the rectal surgery would be spinning around and around vs the normal rise of humiliation with the other Netherland surgeries.

        Of course …this is my female perspective. 🙂

  3. My Mother NEVER, EVER swore, cursed, or cussed…except for those times my Father would say something like, “I love you, Honey.” She would reply, “Don’t call me Honey…that’s bee shit!”

  4. @ Xmas – Yes …I am a fan of Scrubs. I was watching the reruns of the reruns of the reruns. never gets old. Although I haven’t seen the show in awhile now and so am appreciating this video all over again. Thanks! 🙂 For some posts in my blog …and inspired by Dr Reed’s use of Bajingo …I embellished on her euphemism by using the word Bajingoland. This is because once upon a time I was a frequent flier urology patient who had been having procedures beyond the bajingo …but in the general area. It’s capitalized because it’s a territory south of the border in the nether regions, …aka …Bajingoland. 😉 Pure logic really.

    After seeing the video, I realize she said schwing-schwong vs my using schwing-schwang …but really schwang,schwong …they all schwing.

    Also …I actually don’t have any problem using the “P” word …but somehow seems too out there for in here. Not sure why. So for all intents and purposes …schwing-schwang-schwong will suffice. 🙂

    And I think I may be a bit punchy at the moment and should probably get some sleep soon. I may have commenter’s remorse in the a.m. WC ..just delete this if you wish. 🙂

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