Medical verbal diarrhea

22 Dec

Since coming home I can’t help but bring things I’ve learned into every-day conversations.  I’m starting to realize that not everyone is necessarily always interested in being counseled.

Par example:

At a baby shower for my close friend.  It’s my first time getting to catch up with friends from home, and I go get the attention of M, who has a strange skin rash that hasn’t gone away in weeks.  Since we didn’t cover Skin in Pathology, I tell her what I heard from my brother (a doctor) about rashes: that generally speaking if it’s itchy it’s not life-threatening, that if it’s been hanging around for a long time it’s not life-threatening, and that often they don’t bother finding out exactly what it is, but they will prescribe first a steroid and then if that doesn’t work, an anti-fungal.  At least the last part is helpful for M, who thought the doctor was just humoring her by prescribing an anti-fungal when they still weren’t sure what it was exactly.

Later in the shower, Ktown, M and I are talking about high blood pressure.  M is worried because she has had a couple slightly high readings in the past few times.  Eager to ease her worries, Ktown suggests she shouldn’t have to worry because her eyes aren’t bloodshot.  M agrees; her eyes are not puffy like her father’s – he has high BP – and so she probably doesn’t need to worry so much. Later in the day I realize I never made it clear to them that hypertension is typically totally silent and doing it’s damage over the long term while the person is totally unaware until it’s well advanced.  I write a message to both M and Ktown clarifying this and saying that maybe it’s something she can talk to her doctor about.  Ktown responds thanking me for clearing it up and letting M know she probably doesn’t have much to worry about, but later cheerfully tells me that she was kind of perplexed why I sent the message that would likely just make M worry more.

Another conversation Ktown is telling me about, a silly one, about circumcised and uncircumcised penises.  She’s recounting this conversation, laughing at the awkwardness, where basically it comes up that a couple people we know are uncircumcised.  I can’t just laugh at this, but I have to bring up how circumcision isn’t just a matter of religion, there are also health benefits such as avoiding phimosis and paraphimoses, preventing HIV transmission, and decreasing the chances of smegma buildup which would lead to squamous cell carcinoma of the penis (the latter is something I didn’t quite understand until a fellow student kindly explained the whole concept of foreskin and the gunk that gets stuck under it – smegma – to me using his arm, his t-shirt sleeve, and the appropriate theatrics).

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