…And Broomsticks

As tonight has been rather quiet for myself, with no jobs of any note, I thought I might tell a tale that fits in with the last post. Actually my memory of this story was jogged by one of the comments left there. So I apologise for misleading you when I said in my last post that it would be the last FBUA post.
When I was much younger than I am now, probably 16 or 17, I managed through a friend to get myself on a tour of the notorious medical museum at the Royal London Hospital. This museum is not open to the public, only to medical students – I was not supposed to be there. So I had to be sneaky and pretend that not only was I interested in medicine, but that I was a first year medical student.

I think it was the first time I ever wore a tie outside of school. At that point in my life I was convinced I was going to be a System Analyst, a career in medicine was the last thing on my mind.

I was in a small group, and somehow I managed to fit right in – I suppose I had an advantage in that while these proto-doctors had spent their school life studying hard, I had spent the same time trying to con my school-mates out of their pocket money. Sure they might have better exam results, but I was better at the sneaky stuff.

We were led around the museum by an old, but very entertaining professor, who told us the tales of every exhibit. Every so often he would ask one of us a medical question – somehow he asked me something that I knew, it was then I realised the power of “trivia”, which has directed my learning ever since.

We passed from the malformed foetuses and the huge tumours in glass jars to that of the two exhibits that were perhaps the centerpiece of the museum, the skeletons of John Merrick “The Elephant Man”, and that of a cleaner of the hospital who had such an interestingly extensive curvature of the spine she had agreed to donate her body to the museum.

But the exhibit that sticks most in my memory was that of a cross-section of an abdomen and chest, floating in preservative, which had a white pole going from the anus to the heart.

The story was that the 'specimen' had been a male who got excitement from hanging by his hands from an overhead loft hatch, then raising and lowering himself from the same, with a broom handle inserted up his anus.

All went well until one day when his hands slipped and he fell – the broom pierced his body, coming to rest in his heart. I believe that he was found, quite dead, by his wife…

For all I know, the exhibit is still there.

Right – that is definitely the last FBUA story until I next meet a patient with that 'complaint'. Honest

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