Thursday, June 2, 2011

Gone Fishin'

Tonight’s notes from the You Can’t Make This Stuff Up Department:

A thirteen year old boy was playing on the banks of a local creek in his bare feet when he stepped upon a dead catfish. As you may know, catfish are so named because they share several qualities with their land-based counterparts, including “whiskers” on the front of their face and an utter indifference to the presence of humans, with the possible exception of when you throw some pellets into the water at a feeding pond. The “whiskers” are actually cartilaginous spines that stay moist and malleable when the catfish is alive and in the water. When the catfish has washed up on the bank of the creek and dried out a bit, the spines become small barbed weapons that tend to get stuck in things. Things like the unshod foot of a thirteen year old boy, who showed up at the front door of the ER with a catfish spine stuck in his foot. Which was, in turn, still attached to the head of the disembodied catfish.

Many people think of medicine as a delicate art. It’s not always. But it was worth the ol’ med school try, so I numbed up his foot and tried to gently remove the catfish head. I made a small incision at the base of the wound hoping to find room to free up the barbs so I wriggle it out with minimal tissue damage. This, of course, didn’t work. Enter the vise-grip pliers, a backward pull, and a lot or torque, which did.

The patient did well and is now home, having negotiated a stop at McDonald’s with his grandmother before leaving the ED.

The catfish head resides in a small specimen cup currently sitting on the desk of the ER Manager.

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