Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tales from Residency: Tooth pain

I'm very touchy about getting bothered while eating. I'm sort of like an animal, who gets very possessive of their food and doesn't want anyone to get near them while eating. Plus I feel like there are very few emergencies in rehab that should require me to have to stop eating and go running to see a patient.

Anyway, during an inpatient rehab rotation in residency, I was just sitting down to my lunch in the resident's office. Just as I was taking a bite of my nice hot sandwich, there was a knock on the door. It was one of the nurses.

Nurse: "I was just cleaning Ms. Smith's teeth and she seems to have tooth pain. I checked her mouth with a light, but I couldn't see anything."

Me: "Oh."

Nurse: "Can you take a look?"

Me: "Can this wait until later? I just started eating. You can give her some Tylenol."

Nurse: "Well, it really hurts her."

Me: "How is my looking at it going to help that?"

Nurse: [doesn't budge]

Me: [puts down sandwich, sighs] "Fine..."

So I went and looked in Ms. Smith's mouth. It turned out there was a huge cavity that I saw in one of her back molars. I got out my drill and filled it for her and her tooth pain was gone.

Oh wait, no I didn't. Because I don't know a freaking thing about dentistry, so when I looked in her mouth, I saw absolutely nothing and she continued to have tooth pain despite the fact that I heroically rushed to her bedside.

I've always been a softie and the nurses know it. I'd probably be better off if I were one of those doctors that the nurses are afraid to page when they're on call.


  1. Next time just say brightly, "Sure, I'll be there to see her in a few minutes. In the meantime, why don't you offer her some Tylenol," and then eat your freaking sandwich and see her when you're ready. Not sure it would work EVERY time, but it might help.

  2. for a second there, i thought "wow, fizzy knows how to drill and fill teeth?!

  3. Love the sarcasm, always cracks me up.

  4. Facepalm. Did the nurse think that a PM&R residency includes a rotation in dental care? If I tried to pull that on my doctor she would give me "the look" and I'd have to slink out of her office feeling like a complete idiot.

  5. I love OLD MD GIRLS suggestions!! There is no reason that couldnt have waited a few more minuted until you ate!