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Why I’m Laughing About Beets In the Exam Room

Op-Med is a collection of original articles contributed by Doximity members.

This is part of the Medical Humanities series on Op-Med, which showcases creative work by Doximity members. Do you have a creative work related to your medical practice that you’d like to share? Send it to us here.


It’s good to see you again Mrs. Webster
You too doctor
How’s the kids?
Oh, just fine. Jimmy is in soccer now. Brad is on the swim team.
And the Judge?
The same, but I can’t get him on that diet you recommended.
And the garden?
Doing well, but for the birds. They eat all the tomatoes. Can’t grow anything unless it’s
I see.

So what brings you in today?
Well, it’s a little embarrassing.
It’s alright, really, go ahead.
Well, I’ve noticed,
when I go to the bathroom,
it’s bloody
What’s bloody? Your urine?
Ah, your stools?
Yes. That’s it
Did they just start?
Yes, just today
But you feel alright.
Are you tired?
Lost weight?
I don’t mean to frighten you, but has anyone in your family had cancer?
Pain or indigestion?
Ever vomit blood?
I don’t mean to embarrass you, but I must ask, are you and the Judge sexually active?
Why, yes.
And have you had intercourse lately?
Yes, just last night.
What kind?
Excuse me
I’m sorry, vaginal, oral, anal?
Oh, just the first kind I suppose
Hmm, there is one other thing
What’s that?
Have you eaten beets?
Yes, out of the garden last night.
Then that’s it.
What’s it?
The beets, they turned your stool bloody.
I see.
Don’t you think you could have asked that first?

What was your inspiration? Did other creative works, if any, influence your creation of this piece?

I've been writing poetry for years. It lends itself well to doctoring because it fits on the back of rounding sheets, or on scribbled notes you find in your pocket weeks later.

How long have you been writing poetry? What got you started? 

I started writing poetry in elementary school. I got started on a whim, I kept going because someone, a teacher probably, told a little boy he was good at something.

Brian is an orthopedic sports medicine surgeon in Mammoth Lakes, California. He thinks a lot about knee surgery and getting better at it.

Image: Petorn / gettyimages

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