Hyderabad, Telangana, India
|Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash|
When I took my oral exams in the final year of medical school, I was tested on surgical instruments by an external professor. He appeared to be in his sixties and stern. As a conversation starter, he asked my favorite specialty. “Neurology,” I answered. As a professor of urology, he was happy to hear this as his brain processed my answer as “urology.” He asked me to pick an instrument from those displayed in front of me that would commonly be used in urology.
The brain hears what it wants to hear, so I picked the long needle used for lumbar punctures, which was the only neurology-related instrument I could see. The urology professor appeared shaken. The mental image of an LP needle being used anywhere near the external genitalia was too traumatic to digest.
“How is it useful in urology?” he asked.
At this point I heard neurology every time, while he heard urology.
“Sir, we use it to draw fluid and test for infections.”
Now he was downright horrified.
“My God, what have they taught you this year?” He picked up the Foley catheter and put it in my hands. “This is the most commonly used instrument in urology.”
Now I was horrified. I wondered if there was a new procedure to draw out spinal fluid with a Foley catheter.
“I didn’t know that, sir. Maybe the procedure is new?”
He looked miserable then. “We’ve been using this to drain urine for at least a hundred years.”
My brain finally caught up. “Yes, I know that. I thought you said they use it to drain CSF.”
“Why would I say that?”
“You said it’s most commonly used in neurology.”
“Yes, I said it’s most commonly used in urology.”
We both paused.
As the misunderstanding began to hit us both, I was mortified. He started to laugh slowly. As I joined in, it turned into a full outburst of laughter. That is how the Head of Department found us five minutes later, examiner and student clutching their stomachs and laughing uncontrollably. He asked what the joke was. We looked at each other and burst out laughing again.
I later found out the professor gave me full marks on the exam. It is one of my favorite moments from medical school. What a “Ne-Uro” mess.
NISHITHA BUJALA is a final year student in medicine. She published her debut novel Breaking Philosophy, a sci-fi thriller, in 2019. She is also a writer at Lexicon, an international medical magazine for students.