Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thursday Top Ten: "Week on the Wards"

These boots were made for walking.

My friend Lesley M. told me yesterday that she loves reading my blog when I am on the inpatient service. Although the clinic has scored me some excellent blogworthy material, I'd have to side with Lesley on the abundance of experiences during ward months that make me want to run to my laptop.

And so.

With that in mind, I bring you this week's Thursday Top Ten: The top ten things I heard and/or saw at Grady Hospital this week on wards.

Oh yeah.

This reminds me--in the first week of the medical school curriculum, we have this thing called "Week on the Wards" for the first year students. I like it because it's a great baptism by fire for folks who may need to recognize that they have no desire to be baptized. Vomit on shoes, rounds that last a wee bit too long, rashes that give you the willies, and teeth so riddled with decay that you immediately schedule an appointment with your dental hygienist upon leaving---yes, my friends! All awaiting the youngsters who step their shiny shoes onto the wards for that first week. Now the good news, as always, is that all of those things get overshadowed by the human beings. . . . the wonderful human beings. . . whose hands you touch, whose life stories you learn, and whose lessons you internalize that leave you forever changed---even after a simple week. It leaves you saying, "I want to be a doctor."

As an M-1 student (first year of med school), you can't help but reflect on what you've seen and heard. But as an M-19 student, it gets a little harder. You have to remind yourself to marvel at and smile at what threatens to become mundane. So I guess I'm just trying to still hold onto the wonder of being new at this, and in a way, make every week a "Week on the Wards" experience.

Top Ten Things I Saw or Heard at Grady Hospital This Week:

#10 -- Consultation.

Man sees me in the hall at Grady.

"'Scuse me, don't you be on Fox 5?"

"Yes sir."

"Oh okay, then. Can you tell me what you think this is?" Lifts up shirt and shows me the side of his left flank which has what looks like an abscess.

"Uhhhh, does that thing hurt?"

"Yeah, ma'am. It do hurt real bad."

"Uhhhh, did you hurt yourself there or injure yourself?"

"I shot my insulin there, but tha's it."


"You could touch it, I don't mind."

"Uuuuh, yeah. Um, that's okay." I pause for a minute and decide how roped in I want to get. "Um, so that looks like a pus pocket and you need to get it drained and packed. If you don't you could get pretty sick. I think you should go to the emergency department."

"Yeah, tha's where I was headed, but then I seen you and said, 'Tha's that lady that be on Fox 5, so let me see what she talkin' 'bout.' So, now I'm fixin' to go over there to get it drained out."

"See?" I responded,"You didn't even need me. We was talkin' 'bout the same thing all along." I smiled.

"Sho' was, wasn't we?"

#9 -- Hair today, gone tomorrow.

A patient on her fourth hospital day said to me, "You know what I need? Some tweezers. I'm 'bout to have a goatee up in here if somebody don't get me some damn tweezers!"

Okay, so can I acknowledge that nearly every woman has at least one unruly hair that grows somewhere on her face that, although it does not lead to full on goatee status, if left untamed and unplucked could become something of great concern?

I know someone who shall remain nameless that made me promise that if she were ever in a hospital or otherwise infirmed and could not get to those wiry hairs that I would take it upon myself to take care of it. It's kind of like being a goatee godmother. Ladies: If you don't have a goatee godmother, get one. (I'm just sayin'.)

#8 -- Baby love.

A lady in the elevator had a baby that was so cute that it made my ovaries hurt. (Don't worry--only for 2.2 seconds, which isn't long enough to be dangerous.)

"That baby is beautiful. And look how happy he is!"

"He look like he want to go to you." And just like that she handed her beautiful little baby to me. Like she instinctively knew that I wanted to hold him. (I so did.)

I cuddled him all the way to my floor. I love Grady.

#7 -- Diet shmiet.

In the cafeteria:

Cafe lady: "Ma'am have you ordered?"

Me: "I'll have a turkey burger, just the burger."

Cafe lady: "Turkey burger! Plain! No bun! Next in line!"

Other lady: "Yes, I'll have a chicken breast. Just the chicken." Looks over at me and smiles.

Me: "Bread is the devil." We both laugh.

Other lady: "Yeah, chile. Tryin' to stay in these clothes." We both smile. I chastise myself for thinking that her treacherously tight clothing is already one biscuit over being stayed in. Smack my own hand. Shame on me for thinking that! Decide to think, Good for her for making a smart food choice because she did and she should totally get credit for that.

I smile at her again and nod.

Cafe lady: "Here's your turkey burger--you want any sides?"

Me: "No, ma'am. I'm good."

Cafe lady: "Chicken breast--sides, baby?"

Other lady: "Yeah, let me get some of them potato wedges you just dropped." Wait, huh? As in dropped in the grease to be deep fried.

Um, yeah.

Me: I know how I have a tendency to be all up in grown folks' diets. I immediately ask myself, WWHS -- What would Harry say? This is how I (sometimes) keep my big mouth from getting me into trouble: That's a grown woman and those potato wedges are none of your business. None of your business. Put a lid on it. Stay in your own lane, Manning. (Biting tongue until it nearly oozes blood.)

Other lady: "Alright then, girl. By the way, you be doin' good on channel 5."

Me: (tongue swelling due to intense biting as I watch her walk away with plateful of greasy mojo potatoes.) "Thanths."

#6 -- Boo who?

One of my patients took it upon himself to address me as "boo" for his entire hospitalization.


"Hey sir! It's Dr. Manning!"

"What's up, boo?"


"Are you in any pain?"

"Naw, boo, but help me get these bowels moving, would you?"


"Hey, boo, I like your outfit!"


"Hey, boo--you'll do me a favor and see what time I last got my pain medicine?"

(Is it bad that I thought it was endearing?)

#5 - Weak on the wards.

I supervised one of the medical students as she attempted to perform a lumbar puncture on one of our patients. She wasn't successful even though her technique was perfect.

I wasn't either. A different doctor would need to do it.

The patient was fortunately gracious, and wasn't in much pain. I think it was a good reminder that just because you are an M-19 doesn't mean that you succeed at everything.

#4 - Hold it.

In the hallway:

"Hey, doc, can I hold five dollars right quick?"

"Hold five dollars?"

"Yeah. I'll give it back to you, I promise."

"Umm, I've never seen you before. Like, in my life, I haven't."

"But I'm for real, I'll pay you back."

"Uhhh, yeah. I'm gonna have to pass on that one."

#3 -- Be still my blogging heart.

Sitting at the nurses station:

Girl in a Georgia Tech sweatshirt approaches me.

"Excuse me, are you Dr. Manning?"

"Um, yes. . . . errr. . . yeah, I'm her."

Now smiling with big smile. "OMG, really? How fun. I read your blog, and I just love it."

Me, now smiling with bigger, goofier smile. "Rrrrreallly?" Ting.

"Totally! You're a total trip!" Walks off.


#2 -- Shout outs.

Had on my favorite green rain boots on Wednesday and a patient called out to me as I gleefully kicked puddles while crossing the street:

"What's up, Bootsy Collins!"

(If you know who Bootsy Collins is, you, too, would find this amusing.)

#1 -- Feed the chil'ren.

One of our octogenarian patients was accompanied 24 - 7 by her sixty-something year-old daughter for the whole hospitalization. This daughter was a grandmother and even a great-greatgrandmother two times over. She adopted everyone on the floor for the whole time her mom was hospitalized.

The other day I was rounding on her mom and was wrapping up the visit by chatting with them about our plan. In the middle of the conversation, two thirteen year old girls come in and hand her some money.

"Did y'all get what y'all wanted?"

"Yes, ma'am," they answered in unison.

"Did you get a drank, too? What you get?"

"I got the filet o' fish meal and she got the quarter pounder meal. And a apple pie."

"Good. Alright then, baby."

"Thank you."

The two girls walk off and go to sit next to the OTHER bed in the room with ANOTHER patient. I was totally puzzled.

"Are they related to y'all?" I asked.

"Oh, naaah. They with her." She gestured to the neighboring patient. I looked confused again so she clarified it for me. "Them chil'ren been here all morning and I axed 'em what they eat for breakfast. They ain't ate no breakfast. Then I axed 'em what they ate for lunch and they ain't ate n'an. I axed 'em why, and the chil'ren didn't have no money."

"So you gave them money to get something to eat? And you don't know them?"

"You can't let the chil'ren go hungry, baby."


"I don't have much. But what I has I give. And it seem like the Lord manage to provide for me long as I do stuff like that."


I love Grady.

Falcons fan and caring human being:
Taken and shared with her permission (from right after that moment. :)


Happy Thursday.


  1. About 15 years ago, I was an HR manager for the physical plant division of a large university. The physical plant is custodial, electrical, plumbers, landscapers, that kind of work. And I saw early on that the custodial staff put on the most fabulous Thanksgiving feast for the entire division (the ladies could COOK) and always gave the most in the division at the United Way time--not just proportionately, the MOST. Starting salary in custodial? $5.09 an hour (this was when minimum wage was $3.25 or so). $11,000 a year to start, think about that. It still amazes me and made a huge impression at the time. I think your grandmother is cut from the same cloth. Lovely.

    AA in ATL

  2. this is awesome. All in a week's time, eh? unreal! what a great job :o)

  3. My favourite Top 10 to date, girl! Feelin' it. :)

  4. I can't wait to get out of this classroom, through Step 1 and on to Grady. Everytime I read your blog, I get a little more excited about being there next year. I definitely hope to make your acquaintance one day Dr. M!

    -rising MSM M3

  5. Despite all my ethical misgivings about human cloning, I would support it wholeheartedly if it would mean there would be equally inspiring and amazing Dr. Manning clones.

    Our health care system needs more doctors like you, many, many more!

  6. This blog post made me laugh (I LOVE Bootsy Collins..."Bootzilla" is always in my mental IPOD) and it made me glad there are people like the woman in your #1 of the week. We need a lot more of people like her (and YOU!) in this world.

  7. mmmmm.... your posts fill me up with all that is right with the world. Thank you!

  8. Who's the worst at trying to demand the Top Ten a day early, then not even commenting until a day later? *Raises hand*

    I remember you mentioned once before that someone thought you were on Channel 5. You ARE on channel 5! Ohhhh!

    Goatee Godmother? iCan't.

    Maybe you shouldn't think so much about what she DID eat and concentrate on what she DIDN'T eat. Now, wasn't she good for giving up that bread? Changing her world, one less carb at a time.

    That Granny was raised right. I wonder what kind of stories her mom could tell.

  9. Picture this: me, a cup of coffee, Saturday morning in the sunroom with hubby, reading your blog (sometimes out loud to him because I can't keep it to myself), next moment tearful (lady gives children her money). I think I relate so much to this because the same things happen in my world, but it's on a smaller scale, in a very uh appalachian/redneck kind of way. Be right back after I find my tweezers.

  10. Laughing hilariously out loud! And you know why.

  11. I typed a comment and accidentally erased we go...again

    Your #1 had me in tears (real ones) ...I love your blog. I live and work in the Independent Hollywood Machine (a suburb of the actual Hollywood Machine) by my observation you are a star !!!! You are my best find of the month and big shout out to Shannon and what she follows that's how I found you.

    Please keep inspiring the best in the rest of us...I count myself a Public Health Professional with no matching skill set just compassion for what people say, precisely how they say...accent, expressions, colloquialisms and all...compassion for what they do and like you (most of all) what they need.

    God's Best to you

  12. Hey Girl ...good to see you too


  13. I know for a fact that the Grady cafeteria fries in trans fat free canola. So there:)


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

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