Intern Tries to Palpate Pedal Pulses, Can’t Locate Legs

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BIRMINGHAM, AL – Beads of sweat were trickling down the intern’s face.  He was determined. He could do this.

It had been over five minutes since his attending had given him this responsibility.  He felt like he’d been at this forever.  He was starting to lose hope and was wondering how weak he’d appear if he asked the two nurses standing behind him for help.  It was his first floor month (odd, considering it’s February) and he was keen to prove himself.  He’d done this in med school.  He kept going.


pedal pulseFive minutes ago his attending, Dr. Dijju Zamin, had said, “Did you examine the patient’s pedal pulses?”

“Ah, I might’ve missed that,” replied the intern.  “But you make a good point, I’ll examine and get back to you.”

Now, what seemed like several eons later, the intern continued in his quest to find the patient’s legs hidden beneath layers upon layers of off-white blankets: white covers, sister Janine’s hand-knit woolen throw, Aunt May’s good-luck pashmina, and granddaughter Lucy’s security blanket.

“Where the hell are her legs?!” the intern thought to himself as he sifted up and down the many woven fascia covering the patient’s poorly perfused legs.  He tried several techniques to no effect.  He pulled up the top two layers, pulled the third layer down.  Nothing.  Pulled the third layer up, fourth layer down.  Nada.  He did a sweep under all the sheets.  Nothing.  He looked at the patient who quietly gave him a smile.

“Should we tell him she’s sitting cross-legged?” said Nurse Angie to Nurse Rachel.

“Nah, I have a few more minutes left on my break.”

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