Q Fever! Medical Humor & Satire

April 23, 2003 | Volume 4, Issue 1

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Whiskey On The Wards

A commendable tradition

NEW YORK, NY—The wife made one hell of a casserole for dinner a couple of weeks back – a Shepherd’s Pie to be exact. Of course, I forgot to take my Fibercon and so my bowel was full of more bricks than the Great Wall of Chicago. What is it about mashed potatoes and beef that’s so damned constipating? That’s just it - it’s neither. It’s the green beans.

Dr. Mort Kandless

And so I’m reminded of the "days of the giants" when lunch was really lunch, not just a bag of Fritos or gruel at the nursing station. We would finish rounds and gather at a local café or even a pub for a proper meal. And would you believe we’d even have a drink or two? To this day I stand by the practice and suggest that healthcare professionals ease their minds with a midday spirit from time to time.

Recent studies show that regular alcohol consumption can decrease the risk of both heart disease and dementia. Any believer in evidence-based medicine must take this to heart. True, the data is not without its caveats. A critical review of the literature begs some questions. For example, how do we know that the decrease in heart disease isn’t because all the subjects died of liver failure before their tickers conked out? And perhaps people seem less demented when they drink regularly because they’re not withdrawing. And what about the effects on mice? That used to be SOOO important. The authors don’t offer answers to these otherwise obvious queries.

But when I think back on my rotations at The Briggs and Stratton Women’s Hospital , I recall the exuberance and diligence that seeped from every crevasse of our beings when we would dash out onto that ward after lunch, ready to heel the ills of our fellow men, women and chil'rens. Yes, we would have been considered “tanked” by today’s standards, but it was our character and our frequent trips to the bathroom that kept us in line.

Today I’m not so particular with my drinking. I may steal a shot or two of varnish from the storage closet when I’m out of liquor. Or mineral spirits. Or gasoline. But I feel sharp and eager like I did during residency. Tradition has been a cornerstone of medicine for so many years. Why not return to that of Old Granddad or Jim Beam? Ultimately what makes us feel better will probably make us feel better.

I’m Dr. Mort Kandless and ... That’s what I think.

Mort Kandless, MD is an internist and attending physician at Jericho Yeshiva Medical Center, New York, NY. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Q Fever!, its editors, or its writers.

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