Orthopaedic Observations

I currently have the pleasure of working on the Orthopaedic ward at a Hospital located in Queensland.

The Orthopaedic ward is the Bones Ward which is not to be confused with Orthodontics which is all about Teeth, completely different. I know, sounds the same, but trust me you don’t want to go in for a fractured ankle and come out with a root canal so it might be wise to learn this kind of stuff.

Did you know the infamous funny bone isn’t even a bone?

Of course they will tell you that they affectionately named the Ulnar Nerve – The Funny Bone because it’s located near the humerus which sounds ‘humorous’…but reality is…The ‘Funny Bone’ is just a brilliant excuse to laugh (guilt free) at someone else’s pain.

I spend most of my time at work interacting with the nurses, they do a lot of ‘strange’ things like continuously ask each other if they are OK. If I were a nurse and they kept asking me if I was OK I would have become a hypochondriac within the first week.

“Yeah, I am ok”…”Wait why, do I look sick?”…”OMG you are the third person this shift who asked me if I was ok….I thought I was ok. Maybe I am not? Maybe I should lay down, I don’t feel so well.”

Nurses are a funny lot with funny rituals. One of my favourite is when they assign and announce Key people, specifically nurses, implying of course that the rest don’t matter. So the lesser nurses get back at them by ringing a bell whenever they want to enter the Drug room.  They ring the crap out of that bell, and so they should, pretty sure it’s written somewhere that all nurses were created equally.

They like to confuse us medically untrained personnel by naming equipment with real people’s names.  Richard Splint is not a person, well he was but his name wasn’t Splint it was Volkswagen, no that’s wrong, it was Volkmann. Richard Volkmann invented a splint. I know that because after I spent some time trying to help find this supposed ‘missing’ patient I found out he was an inanimate object. ‘Richard’ was laid out on the counter right in front me the whole time. Well played Nurses…well played.

Next time you are visiting a hospital stand near a ward desk and watch as people check their brains at the door. I am not sure why but I find people are generally under the false assumption that I know who their relative are; I don’t know who you are so how would I know who you are related to?  (Let’s pause to think about that shall we….)

‘I am here to see my grandmother.’

‘Ok…who is your grandmother?’


‘Excellent and who is Ellen? Don’t say your grandmother.’

It is both scary and hilarious how many people do that, or my other favourite is they see my hospital ID and no matter where I am they just come up to me and say a name….

‘John Smith’

‘Hi John’

‘No, I am here to see John Smith’


I do love this ward, I love this ward as much as I love ice-cream. Nope that’s a lie, let me try again… I love going to work here because there seems to be a cluster of comedic Nurses and Doctors, which makes for a thoroughly enjoyable workplace.

Some are just naturally witty people and others are oblivious to the red ball on the end of their nose.

The other week I asked the Nurse in charge if we were expecting any new patients that night, she answered:

“Yes we have a ‘foot’ coming up soon.”

“Just the foot?” I asked

“Yes, just a foot as far as I know”.

Can you imagine the foot being wheeled in on a bed? The heart monitor clipped to its pinkie.  A tiny little wash cloth being used as a sheet?

They also have a thing (obsession) about …. What’s a nice way of putting this, bowel movements? It’s not uncommon for them to ask out loud like if they were enquiring about the weather “Has anyone moved their bowels?”

I always feel uncomfortable when they ask that, it’s just such a personal question. I know they don’t want to know if I have but they ask at least twice a night so I feel the need to confess. If I confess perhaps they will stop talking about this stinking topic?

We had a Russian patient in whose second language was Spanish, English was perhaps his third. He struggled to understand and express himself so I agreed to help translate. You have no idea how weird it is to go up to a total stranger and say “Hi, so when was the last time you pooped?” no preamble just dive in there  up close and personal, muck and all.

There is even a poop chart with pictures; to be clear, pictures of poo. If that is not obsessive behaviour I don’t know what is…

The team there not only have my sincere affection, they have my complete respect. I like to tell them that the reason for their employment is to entertain me and although they do this brilliantly, sadly for me but lucky for all of you, it is not the case.

They take pride in their work and do their best even in the rare occasions when they are treated with much less respect than they deserve.

If you are ever on that ward because you hurt your humerus or something much worse, keep in mind that while we may always struggle to understand why these nurses are inexplicably obsessed with your faeces, we do know they are all there because they care about people.

Let them do their jobs, be nice, be grateful and remember…

Although hospitals conjure up fears and emotions that we might not know how to handle, I can tell you with all certainty (no bones about it) those guys are the good guys.

Yours sincerely,

The Medically Untrained xo


  1. One of us yelled out quite loud one morning “I need to wee first!”, a patient yelled out from his room “keep it to yourself”, in a unoffended way…and we are not just open about bowel motions, also our own nature calling too

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks Claudia! I see you as working WITH us, so it’s really interesting (and funny) to hear that our jobs appear completely different from your perspective. It took me a little while to develop my routine but I think life and work experience has made me comfortable in asking the stinking questions. I’ve seen enough naked bodies to realise that we are all the same. We all have those bits, we all make those sounds and everybody’s gotta poop! Not for fun, it’s just downright important!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Its funny, I wrote this probably three months into my Ortho contract but only posted it when I thought I was moving on to the next ward. I have been lucky enough to be there now over a year and now it all makes a lot more sense. I do feel like I work WITH you all now, and finally understand why and what you all do. Still not going to ask you if you are off to do a number one or two – no stinking way! ha


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