You can use your existing Medical Independent, MediLearning or PharmacistCPD account to log in.


Medicalindependent.ie is Ireland's only investigative medical news website for doctors, healthcare professionals and anyone with an interest in health issues.

Established in 2010, along with its sister publication The Medical Independent, our stated aim is to investigate and analyse the major issues affecting healthcare and the medical profession in Ireland. The Medical Independent has won a number of awards for its investigative journalism, and its stories are frequently picked up by national digital, broadcast and print media. The Medical Independent is published by GreenCross Publishing.

Address: Top Floor, 111 Rathmines Road Lr, Dublin 6

Tel: 353 (01) 441 0024

GreenCross Publishing is owned by Graham Cooke.


The benefits of registering: only registered users:
  • receive the ecCopy two days prior to the printed edition.
  • have automatic access to our free CPD sites.
  • can partake in our online MCQs.
  • can enter our online sports quiz.

Sign up now for ease of access to The Medical Independent, Ireland’s most frequently published medical newspaper, delivering award-winning news and investigative reporting.

Download the new Mindo app for both IOS & Android.

  • Get notified when a story goes live
  • Access Premium Content
  • Read Offline
 

These are the breaks

By Mindo - 17th Oct 2016 | 8 views

<p class=”p1″><span class=”s1″>I me</span>t a man recently who had fractured his scaphoid bone. He is a finished scholar; an elderly, learned man with an academic’s view of the world. “I learned three things,” he said. “Firstly, I learned where the bone was. I never really knew. Secondly, I learned that it is pronounced ‘skayphoid’, not ‘skaaphoid’. Thirdly, it is spelt with a ‘ph’, and not an ‘f’.”

<p class=”p3″><span class=”s1″>These are the things that doctors learned so long ago that they cannot remember learning them. Of course, the scaphoid was a great one to remember for exams, it being partial to a bit of avascular necrosis and so on. It was also known as the ‘Chancer’s Fracture’. In the days when a civil servant who haunted the pubs of Dublin would fall among medical students (as a Joycean biographer once put it), these merry lads passed on a secret: if you x-ray a scaphoid fracture, it can take up to 10 days to show on a fracture. So your civil servant who had wasted his summer holidays helping out with lambing down home in Roscommon knew just what to do. </span>

<blockquote> <p class=”p1″><span class=”s1″>‘The scaphoid has not felt right since. It hurts a bit after a night playing guitar and I cannot arm-wrestle any more. That does not matter now, but I had been good at it and had made a nice few bob arm-wrestling’</span>

</blockquote> <p class=”p3″><span class=”s1″>He learned the location of the anatomical snuffbox in the back of the Palace Bar, stood the medical student a few pints and presented to the emergency department (ED). </span>

<p class=”p3″><span class=”s1″>He was duly plastered, if he wasn’t already, and he presented his right arm, ironically frozen in the shape of a pint glass, to the boss the next morning. A sick note that would do for the entire Galway races was clutched piteously in his other hand. </span>

<p class=”p3″><span class=”s1″>When he was x-rayed again, and of course had no break, he expressed relief and returned to do whatever civil servants did. It wouldn’t work now, what with keyboards and all. Of course, I genuinely broke my scaphoid when I was a student. My hand-writing was bad at the best of times and I had no chance at all with my hand locked in the shape of a civil servant’s pint, and furthermore I had to sit an exam in forensic medicine. It doesn’t seem long ago to me, but a computer was an exotic yoke then, so they found me a typist. She was a postgrad in history with a department word processor. She was also extremely squeamish. I did my best, despite her turning white at every paragraph and green at the really sordid bits. She finished and I went out into the quadrangle air for a smoke. </span>

<p class=”p3″><span class=”s1″>The plaster came off a few weeks later and we were called back to the orals. The extern was a famous man. “This is the student who fractured his wrist,” hissed a waspish pathologist when I was ushered in, glaring at me as if I had done it to make his life more difficult. </span>

<p class=”p3″><span class=”s1″>“Ah yes,” murmured the extern. “You obviously dictated it to somebody who has no medical training. You did read over it at the end?” Did I heckers like, not with a Marlboro Light and the college bar waiting for me. I passed anyway. </span>

<p class=”p3″><span class=”s1″>The scaphoid has not felt right since. It hurts a bit after a night playing guitar and I cannot arm-wrestle any more. That does not matter now, but I had been good at it and had made a nice few bob arm-wrestling. I suppose it will come back and bite me when I am at a low ebb, but there is not much I can do about it now. As Tony Soprano used to remark: “Whatcha gonna do about it?” If the weather changes, it aches in harmony with my broken toes. </span>

<p class=”p3″><span class=”s1″>I broke my toe one morning when I dropped a dumbbell on my foot. I was a casualty officer in Northern Ireland at the time so I presented to work, had my foot x-rayed, confirmed the fracture and worked on. That was the kind of eejit medical training bred in those days. </span>

<p class=”p3″><span class=”s1″>As I hobbled about that evening, a policeman (there were always policemen hanging about the ED in those days, I never knew why) asked me what was wrong. “Broken toe,” I told him. A smile slowly grew beneath his regulation moustache. “I broke my toe last year,” he said. “It was marvellous. Eight weeks I knocked out of it. Spent a month doing up the house and a month on holidays.” </span>

<p class=”p3″>At the time of writing, the medical profession are tired and low. The civil servants seem to be in splendid fettle. You can learn a lot from a scaphoid fracture alright.

Leave a Reply

Latest Issue
The Medical Independent – 24 June 2021

You need to be logged in to access this content. Please login or sign up using the links below.

Most Read