You’ll either laugh or groan (well, maybe both)

by Lorien E. Menhennett

Medical humor is something else. As a medical student, it’s something I’m exposed to on a daily basis. Let me emphasize that these jokes are not your typical stand-up humor. There are analogies and references that are quite specific, and sometimes off-color or even off-putting. It’s what you might call an acquired taste. Here are some examples.

The_Anatomy_LessonRembrandt’s facelift. You might be familiar with this famous painting, called the “Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp.” Painted in 1632, it depicts the rare (for the 17th century) event of an autopsy. According to Wikipedia, these were social events with an admission fee. You’re likely not, however, familiar with the photoshopped version of the Rembrandt masterpiece, seen below:


That’s right—instead of forceps holding up a muscle (or nerve), the tutor is holding an ultrasound transducer. This is Rembrandt for the 21st century, man! The image is a screenshot from a PowerPoint presentation on ultrasound we got earlier this semester from a radiologist.

Food for thought. The image below was from a presentation we got on “Special circulations and exercise” during our cardiology unit. Looking at the graph, I immediately grasped the concept—that food intake increased blood flow to the gut (for digestion). But WHAT THE HECK is a modified sham feeding?IMG_0010I looked it up. And according (again) to Wikipedia, it can take a couple forms. In animals, it often involves inserting a tube into the esophagus or stomach, therefore allowing anything that has been swallowed to leak out (and not be digested). Humans probably wouldn’t like that, though. So with people, here is what they do (this is still gross): you smell, taste, and chew the food, finally spitting it out rather than swallowing it. Now I know. And so do you.

IMG_0007To say the least. Also in our cardiology unit, there was a lecture on thrombosis—known more simply as clotting. Aspirin is something many people take to help prevent clots. But when you’ve got a big one already? Bad news. When this slide of a giant (and potentially fatal) clot came up on the big screen, I just had to jot down what the lecturer said: “At this point, aspirin is not going to help you.”

IMG_0688That’s just gross. We’re almost done with our pulmonology unit now. One thing we talked a lot about was pneumonia. Realize that pneumonia can be caused by a lot of different bugs. When a particular organism called Klebsiella pneumoniae causes pneumonia, the patient may hack up what’s called “currant jelly sputum”—bloody mucus. Don’t ask how I found this picture. But I did. Someone clearly has way too much time on their hands.