Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Gas Issue

I have practiced medicine long enough to call a fart a fart. This may not seem like a milestone worth noting to some people, but me it carries a certain significance. For years I’ve heard myself asking patients: “ have you passed gas”, “have you broken wind”, or," have you passed any flatus since your surgery”? so many times, a patient sitting on the exam table would tell me about their gas problem, and I would have to discern, is this belching, or farting. Asking if they passed gas or broke wind sounded so ridiculous to my ears, and I’m sure most patients felt the same way. Adding to my distress about this “situation” has been my firm conviction that as a society, we are all farting more. So, one day I decided to take matters into my own hands, figuratively of course, and when someone complained to me about their gas problem I simply asked if they meant belching or farting. The brief look of confused but pleasant surprise on their face was quickly replaced by relief, realizing they would not have to hear those other ridiculous phrases. (from the journal, 2002)

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