Dec 24, 2010

A Doctor's Christmas Dinner

I'm stuffed. Christmas dinner with my family, a happy time spending time with grandparents, cousins, aunt and uncles, and all the good Swedish food I remember having as a kid. It's bittersweet; I'm worried that next year I'll be an intern and won't get to be home for Christmas. It's my last year on an academic schedule, the last year that I can depend on someone to protect my time. And as I was thinking about being a doctor during Christmas, my mind drifted to the many foods I learned about in medical school. Not really foods exactly; doctors seem to like to name various pathologies after the dishes they abstractly resemble. So here is my idea of a Christmas dinner for doctors, a menu of pathology.

To drink:
Rice water

Anchovy paste
bread and butter with red currant jelly
caseous (cheese) necrosis
Grape clusters
Olive sign

Main dish:
Pizza pie with onion skin
Hamburger sign

Red cherry
Strawberry tongue
sugar coated spleen
chocolate cyst
Apple core
Banana sign with nutmeg

Here is what we are really serving:

To drink:
Port-wine stain: hemangioblastoma
Coffee-grounds: upper GI bleed emesis
Cafe-au-lait spots: neurofibromatosis
Rice water: cholera diarrhea

Anchovy paste liver: amebic liver abscess
bread and butter with red currant jelly: pericarditis, klebsiella pneumonia
caseous (cheese) necrosis: tuberculosis
Grape clusters: hydatidiform mole
Olive sign: pyloric stenosis

Main dish:
Pizza pie with onion skin: cytomegalovirus retinitis and hypertensive arteriosclerosis
Hamburger sign: uncovered vertebral articular facet
Millet: spread of tuberculosis

Red cherry: Tay-Sachs disease
Strawberry tongue: Kawasaki disease
Sugar coated spleen: chronic spleen serositis
Chocolate cyst: hemorrhagic ovarian cyst
Apple core: colon tumor
Banana sign with nutmeg: hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and alcoholic hepatitis

These are all signs and symptoms that are clinical language to describe the diseases mentioned. Doctors just seem to describe these clinical signs in terms of a better known entity: food. Everyone knows what bread on butter looks like. So when you see a heart with pericarditis, it's a frame of reference for something you see. But it is an unappetizing way to characterize disease.

My advice: don't have holiday dinner in the doctor's lounge.

No comments:

Post a Comment