BOSTON, MA – It’s a rainy day. It’s cold out. Dr. Bailey Corgan, a pulmonologist at Massachusetts Specific Hospital (MSH), is drenched and freezing because he forgot his umbrella. But, as he always does, he’s walking into work today with a big smile.
“How many people show up to work and truly say they love what they do?” Corgan asked us, pointing to a suction canister loaded with 600 cc of thick, yellow, coagulated mucous plugs. “I can.”
Corgan has been at MSH for 15 years now and he specializes specifically in the irrigation and removal of mucous plugs. He remembers when he was five years old and saw his father hock up a loogie.
“He had this horrible cough, but he hocked up this giant wad of phlegm, the size of a giant slug; I can still see it flying from the front porch out onto the lawn, it must have traveled like fifteen feet. ‘Finally, that’s feels so much better,’ he said. It was at that moment it just clicked. I knew what I wanted to do with my life.”
Today, like any other day at work, Corgan gets to aspirate tons and tons of mucous plugs. “I love it. It’s like Christmas every day at work.”
Like some of his peers in his department, he doesn’t care much for critical care. However, he also doesn’t care much for the lungs either. “COPD, asthma, IPF or any of those crazy interstitial lung diseases, sleep medicine, those things didn’t do anything for me,” he said, actually yawning when he tells us this. “But phlegm?” His eyes light up. “Now we’re talking. Phlegm’s my jam. I absolutely love the stuff. Sometimes I just like to let it run through my fingers.”
Corgan believes every pulmonologist out there, whether they will admit it or not, would spend the rest of their lives only aspirating mucous plugs if they had the choice.
Just then, they wheeled the next patient into the bronchoscopy suite, who hocked up an impressive loogie, one that would make Corgan’s dad proud. Corgan started to tear up. “I can’t say it enough: I’m the luckiest person in the entire world.”