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#92417 - 04/22/03 11:59 PM The Fly in the Stethoscope  
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wofahulicodoc Online content
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wofahulicodoc  Online Content
Carpal Tunnel

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Worcester, MA
Since we're on the Medicine page - you might have fun reading his poem "The Fly in the Stethoscope" :-)

(Sorry, I couldn't find an online text easly)

Got it! at

The Stethoscope Song
By Oliver Wendell Holmes (1848)

[Apologies; it's longer than I recalled!]

THERE was a young man in Boston town, He bought him a stethoscope nice and new,
All mounted and finished and polished down, With an ivory cap and a stopper too.

It happened a spider within did crawl, And spun him a web of ample size,
Wherein there chanced one day to fall A couple of very imprudent flies.

The first was a bottle-fly, big and blue, The second was smaller, and thin and long;
So there was a concert between the two, Like an octave flute and a tavern gong.

Now being from Paris but recently, This fine young man would show his skill;
And so they gave him, his hand to try, A hospital patient extremely ill.

Some said that his liver was short of bile, And some that his heart was over size,
While some kept arguing, all the while, He was crammed with tubercles up to his eyes.

This fine young man then up stepped he, And all the doctors made a pause;
Said he, The man must die, you see, By the fifty-seventh of Louis's laws.

But since the case is a desperate one, To explore his chest it may be well;
For if he should die and it were not done, You know the autopsy would not tell.

Then out his stethoscope he took, And on it placed his curious ear;
Mon Dieu! said he, with a knowing look, Why, here is a sound that's mighty queer!

The bourdonnement is very clear,-- Amphoric buzzing, as I 'm alive!
Five doctors took their turn to hear; Amphoric buzzing, said all the five.

There's empyema beyond a doubt We'll plunge a trocar in his side.
The diagnosis was made out,-- They tapped the patient; so he died.

Now such as hate new-fashioned toys Began to look extremely glum;
They said that rattles were made for boys, And vowed that his buzzing was all a hum.

There was an old lady had long been sick, And what was the matter none did know:
Her pulse was slow, though her tongue was quick; To her this knowing youth must go.

So there the nice old lady sat, With phials and boxes all in a row;
She asked the young doctor what he was at, To thump her and tumble her ruffles so.

Now, when the stethoscope came out, The flies began to buzz and whiz:
Oh, ho! the matter is clear, no doubt; An aneurism there plainly is.

The bruit de râpe and the bruit de scie And the bruit de diable are all combined;
How happy Bouillaud would be, If he a case like this could find!

Now, when the neighboring doctors found A case so rare had been descried,
They every day her ribs did pound In squads of twenty; so she died.

Then six young damsels, slight and frail, Received this kind young doctor's cares;
They all were getting slim and pale, And short of breath on mounting stairs.

They all made rhymes with "sighs" and "skies," And loathed their puddings and buttered rolls,
And dieted, much to their friends' surprise, On pickles and pencils and chalk and coals.

So fast their little hearts did bound, The frightened insects buzzed the more;
So over all their chests he found The râle sifflant and the râle sonore.

He shook his head. There's grave disease,-- I greatly fear you all must die;
A slight post-mortem, if you please, Surviving friends would gratify.

The six young damsels wept aloud, Which so prevailed on six young men
That each his honest love avowed, Whereat they all got well again.

This poor young man was all aghast; The price of stethoscopes came down;
And so he was reduced at last To practise in a country town.

The doctors being very sore, A stethoscope they did devise
That had a rammer to clear the bore With a knob at the end to kill the flies.

Now use your ears, all you that can, But don't forget to mind your eyes,
Or you may be cheated, like this young man, By a couple of silly, abnormal flies.

#92418 - 04/23/03 02:00 AM Re: The Fly in the Stethoscope  
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maahey Offline
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Very nice, wofa! Thank you!

#92419 - 04/23/03 01:29 PM Re: The Fly in the Stethoscope  
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wwh Offline
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The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table seems to have been ignorant of the gender of spiders.

#92420 - 04/23/03 01:52 PM Re: The Fly in the Stethoscope  
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Faldage Offline
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the gender of spiders

AHD4 says the OE was spiþra but I don't see it in aCA-SD so I couldn't say, either,


It wasn't in the on-line Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary but it's in my brick and mortar CA-SD. It's spiðra and it's masculine.

#92421 - 04/23/03 05:36 PM speaking of tubercles...  
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wofahulicodoc Online content
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wofahulicodoc  Online Content
Carpal Tunnel

Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,768
Worcester, MA
...and just because I like it, that's why

Some said that his liver was short of bile, And some that his heart was over size,
While some kept arguing, all the while, He was crammed with tubercles up to his eyes.

Sneezles, by A.A.Milne

Christopher Robin had wheezles and sneezles
They bundled him into his bed.
They gave him what goes with cold in the nose,
And some more for cold in the head.
They wondered if wheezles could turn into measles,
If sneezles would turn into mumps;
They examined his chest for a rash, and the rest
Of his body for swelling and lumps.

They sent for some doctors in sneezles and wheezles
To tell them what ought to be done.
All sorts and conditions of famous physicians
Came hurrying round at a run.
They all made a note of state of his throat,
They asked if he suffered from thirst;
They asked if the sneezles came after the wheezles,
Or if the first sneezles came first.

They said “If you teasle a sneezle or wheezle,
A measle may easily grow.
But humour or pleazle the wheezle or sneezle,
The measle will certainly go.”

They expounded the reazles for sneezles and wheezles,
The manner of measles when new.
They said, “If he freezles in draughts and in breezles,
The PHTHEEZLES may even ensue.”

Christopher Robin got up in the morning,
The sneezles had vanished away.
And the look of his eye seemed to say to the sky,
“Now, how to amuse them today? ”

"PHTHEEZLES" = phthisis = tuberculosis

#92422 - 04/25/03 02:10 AM Re: The Fly in the Stethoscope  
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wwh Offline
Carpal Tunnel
wwh  Offline
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This morning I walked five miles looking for a hardware store. The nearer of two I knew about
was gone. So I walked to the onte that used to be only a mile and a half further, only to
find it wasn't there any more. "There's no there there" Reminded me of Gertrude Stein, who
I believe graduated from medical school, but never practiced so far as I know. Gotta go look
her up.

Stein was educated at Radcliffe College and the medical school of Johns Hopkins University.

"Stein, Gertrude," Microsoft(R) Encarta(R) 98 Encyclopedia. (c) 1993-1997 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

#92423 - 04/25/03 04:52 AM Re: doctor/authors  
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Coffeebean Offline
old hand
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Dr. David Livingstone was first schooled in medicine, then became a missionary to Africa. He is best known for his extensive exploration of the African interior and writings against the slave trade.

#92424 - 04/25/03 01:54 PM Re: The Good Doctor!/Anton Chekhov  
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WhitmanO'Neill Offline
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Rio Grande, Cape May County, N...
Classic Russian playwright and short story writer extroadinnaire, Anton Chekhov, who, as a physician, was also known as "The Good Doctor". (plays include Uncle Vanya, The Three Sisters, The Cherry Orchard)


and from another link:

>THE most important dramatist which Russia has so far produced is Anton Chekhov (1860-1904), a physician of Moscow who left, besides many fine short stories, a few dramas which are strikingly original.... <


#92425 - 04/25/03 07:37 PM Re: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle  
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sjm Offline
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sjm  Offline
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>It might make an interesting thread to have a list of physicians who became successful authors.

Has anybody mentioned Luke? <g>

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