Saturday, February 12, 2011

Tap This

We practiced the neurologic exam last week. As part of the deep tendon reflexes overview, we checked for the ankle jerk reflex which is elicited by tapping on the Achilles tendon along the back of the foot.

"I've found what helps is to kinda ..." The doctor climbed up a table, leaning forward and hiking a leg up so that a knee was propped on the surface like so:

"Ah, like a stripper," my brain thought.

"Ah, like a stripper," my mouth said.

Clearly, my brain-to-mouth filter was on strike.

My group laughed and I tried to do a ninja shuffle to the background before the doctor can arch her back for a clear look at who was blurting out such inappropriate comments.

After the session:
Friend: That was one of your - no, your second most funniest line in class.

Me: ... You're remembering the missionary sex thing, aren't you?

When we practiced the visual fields exam on our partners, I just couldn't get her eyes to converge. So I sat there for the longest time bringing my finger close to her nose again and again trying to make the girl cross-eyed.

The doctor cocked her head. "You sure you don't see any convergence? It should be pretty obvious."

Feeling like a failure, I stammered, "Uh, well, her left eye kinda ... but it wasn't really ... I mean, the eyes didn't really move close together and -"

The doctor gave me an amused, indulgent smile as she shifted her seat next to me. I got out of her way, cringing. I will be branded as the dumb medical student who can't even get a patient to follow a freaking finger through the air. They will look at me in the future and think this is the girl who should go home and play with her fingers in some corner.

The doctor moved her finger in a wide H. The girl's eyes followed her finger perfectly. Then the convergence test and ...

"Huh. You're right."

"I am?" I tried not to sound too satisfied. Oh, who am I kidding? I was probably beaming.

"What?" The girl gaped at us. "There's a problem with my eye?"

"Yeah, have you ever been told your left eye's a little weak?" The doctor sat back in her seat.

"Uh, no, I wasn't even aware that ..." The girl looked worried.

"What happened?" The other girls in the session glanced over us.

"My eyes won't converge," my partner explained.

"Really?" One of them brought her finger up. "Look at my finger." Zoomed in toward partner's nose. Her hand dropped back down. "Oh, wow."

We were all fascinated. I was also probably smiling inappropriately again.

My partner touched her eye. "Well ... damn. Thanks for picking up on that."

"Uh, no problem. Don't worry. It'll be okay." And I poked her with a broken tongue depressor to distract her.

Kidding, that came a bit later. Sensory exam for pain, oh yeah.

A note about my masterpiece up there: I know, you're in awe of my artistic prowess. Since my drawings are so eerily lifelike, I purposely left the face blank to protect the identity of my instructor. Please don't be intimidated by my boundless skills. I'm still human.


  1. hi I've been following your blog for the longest time. Fellow med sch student here=) Deep tendon reflexes haha we've been doing the same thing on the other side of the world these past weeks. No stripper positions though. Continue posting please! It makes me see the funny side of med/mad school!

  2. Will do! Thanks for the comments! Med students unite! Haha.