At the tender age of xx-something, the chances of my being accepted into medical school anywhere are nonexistent. Even if I got in, my brain has minimal retention and, what’s stamina? So I’m doing the next best thing – becoming a doctor through the internet, where all information is accurate and current. If I forget something, I can look it up at my leisure.
The precipitating event is my recent adventure as an inmate at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville. VMC is a world-class institution and I can’t say enough good things about the quality of care given. Meals – well, that’s another story.
The reason for my “incarceration” was a low platelet count. Low, as in only one-fifth of the necessary minimum. The condition is known as thrombocytopenia. If it comes from an unknown cause, then it’s called idiopathic thrombocytopenia. Idiopathic is another word for “clueless,” as in – I have a daughter who is idiopathic about sports, but she is photogenic. I, on the other hand, am not photogenic, but am un-idiopathic about sports.
My reason for entering Internet Medical College (IMC) at the University of Google is to become a better medical consumer. Learning why neutrophils, basophils, and eosinophils are significant helps me do that. What I’ve learned so far is that neutrophils and platelets are important. So I have neutropenia and thrombocytopenia – two penia. Oh! The jokes I could make about that!
If you don’t have enough platelets, your doctor calls you on a Saturday morning and says, “Get thee to the ER or your head might explode.” Okay, I added the part about the exploding head, but he did say that if the platelets drop any lower, then spontaneous bleeding was possible. If it happened in my head, I would have a very bad day. At that time, my platelet count was even lower than the one-fifth of minimum. I learned that putting blood in a test tube with sodium citrate as a medium raises your platelet count. It sounds like cheating on a blood test.
So I spent most of the day in the ER with groups of people coming by, asking questions, and saying, “Mmmm.” When doctors say, “Mmmm,” it means they’re idiopaths because my answers to their questions were wrong as a diagnostic tool. Since VMC is a teaching institution, the residents (who, by the way, do have adult supervision) have to work harder at developing a diagnosis. When they finally admit to being completely stumped, they declare idiopathy and tag out to another department. In my case, that’s hematology. Stay tuned for the next class at IMC.