Playing Doctor

Initial Visit?

Wednesday, February 23

Uncynical Wedne—What’s that Smell?

Now, let me preface this story by saying that I love meatballs: Homemade meatballs of veal and pork with plenty of fennel seed and garlic.

I have already warned you of the repulsiveness of childbirth, the most disgusting experience known to humanity. So, since I had to spend a whole month doing obstetrics, I was treated to spaghetti with homemade meatballs.

The next day, wondering around the labor and delivery ward I went about my normal routine. There was a young woman who was fully dilated and likely to give birth soon, so I spent a lot of time in her room.

That was when I remembered that all that garlic, pork, and veal has an effect on the GI tract. So every few minutes, I came up with an excuse to step into the hall. I’d walk toward the nurses’ station to a safe distance, gesticulate with my hands and walk in a circle and then walk back into the room. This worked fine for a while, until the patient actually started to get ready to deliver. That meant I had to put on my sterile gown, gloves, and shoe protectors. And even then, you wear your old shoes.

Once you are sterile, there is no leaving the room. I was hoping the gown, which is thick and water resistant, would contain the garlic laden fumes. But it wasn’t too long before the nurse had a funny look on her face, walked over to the patient and sweetly said, ‘Do you need an enema, honey?’

The patient said she did not. Which is not unusual; when you are about to give birth, the last thing you want is someone shoving something inside your butt.

‘Well,’ the nurse responded, ‘It smells like you need an enema.’

Now, I started a medical ethics group in medical school. I led round table discussions about different criteria to solve ethical dilemmas using a variety of different cases. Believe it or not, this question never came up. Would I allow this woman to get an enema for the smell that I myself created?

Not arriving at an immediate answer, or rather not liking the obvious answer, I punted. ‘No time for that now. She is getting ready to deliver.’

She delivered, though we were ready for her with plenty of time to spare, a misstep on my part. After I realized the gown did nothing to contain the fumes, I began holding my cheeks together with the strength and endurance I’d use if I was hanging on the edge of a cliff and had somehow managed to wedge a rock or branch between my ass cheeks, feet dangling into the abyss. I don't think they have a machine at the gym that prepares you for that kind of endurance training.

And one little bonus I was able to give the patient as penance.

I mentioned yesterday that childbirth splits open the vagina. After the birth is over, we sew it back together, logically enough. But sometimes we will throw in an extra stitch, making the vagina just a little, um, snugger than it was before. It’s called the ‘love stitch.’

Needless to say, she got one.


Blogger hot babe writes:

I have a comment, but as it is uncynical Wed, I feel it's not entirely appropriate.


Anonymous Anonymous writes:

I enjoy your blog. I am an internist and attending at a teaching hospital in Denver. I have a similar "fart" while doing Ob/gyn story. How do I get in touch with you?


Blogger Erik writes:

As nervous as I am about becoming a repository for "fart" stories, I have created a email address where I can be reached.

be gentle with me, doctor.


Blogger dan writes:

Oh dear, that's a rather disturbing story on many levels. I remember reading somewhere that some lady and her baby got some weird flesh eating bacteria thingee when their doctor farted during child delivery. Is that just a load of bunk?


Blogger Erik writes:

Yes Dan, that's a load of bunk.


Anonymous Anonymous writes:

Erik, I tried sending the story to you at
but I get it returned saying that email address doesn't exist.
Internist in Denver


Blogger Erik writes:

Sorry, it is


Anonymous Anonymous writes:

Holding onto a branch with your ass cheeks.


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