Four years of college, then medical school, and now...
"Ladies and gentlemen, as interns, you will have to deal with a wide variety of patients and ailments. We are now approaching the Hoofer Unit. Don't anybody laugh."
Having just been through the hospital's morgue, the interns were aghast. One managed to sputter out, "Laugh? In a hospital where people are dying?"
"It has been known to happen. These patients range in age from eight to ninety. Some just arrived. Others are hopeless. As we walk past the patient's rooms, I will describe the ailments and offer a prognosis for each. To the left, we have..."
"Epilepsy?" the same intern asked.
"No, the jitterbug."
"Is it highly contagious?"
"Only if you are on a dance floor. This young lady jerked around so much she dislocated her hip. She will recover this time, but next time, who knows?"
True to his word, the intern did not laugh.
"To the right, the twist."
"My goodness, does that man have a twisted spine? Is it congenital?"
"No, it was with Cindy. The twist can be a real killer if not done properly. Fortunately, he has signed up for dance classes and is scheduled to begin as soon as his back untwists."
The interns sighed in relief. Many of them were twist fans.
"To the left, break."
"Break? What kind of break? Leg? Arm? Neck? Back? Hip? Wrist? Ankle?"
"Break dancing. The nerd broke his wrist, his thumb, three ribs, and his tibia. That's the big bone in the lower leg, for those of you who don't know."
The intern who had been asking all the questions looked sheepish for a minute, then asked, "What about that poor middle-aged woman in the body cast in the next room to the right?"
"Oh yes. Sadie was a professional belly dancer. The work finally got to her. We're trying to remove her stomach from her esophagus. That's the..."
"Throat. I know. That sounds serious."
"At her age, a broken nail would be serious. She's eighty. Looks younger because of all the makeup and the five face lifts she's had. Next, we have..."
"That man is bent over backwards!"
"A cakewalk victim. Yes, he is bent over backwards, but should have seen him when he was admitted. His eyebrows touched his heels."
"And he's how old?"
"He's the ninety-year-old, but his prognosis is good. At least he won't walk like a hunchback."
"The last patient has lost all her hair between her ears."
"Don't tell me. She was jogging with too-tight earphones."
With this, all the interns broke up in hysterics.
"I asked you not to laugh on this tour. Just for that, the next unit we visit will be urology."
When they heard that, the interns put on their wet suits. On this unit, at least, they knew what to expect.
Susan Packie teaches anthropology at Malcolm-King College, which is located in America's premier anthroplogical site, New York City. She has had her work published in more than 80 magazines.
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