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Dude, Where’s My Stethoscope?

and other stories from the ER

By Donovan Gray, M.D.


Copyright © 2012 by Dr. Donovan Gray

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the author.

Printed in Canada

For information about permission to reproduce sections of this book, write to Dr. Donovan Gray:

5grays Publishing

P.O. Box 21106 Charleswood

Winnipeg, MB

R3R 3R2


This narrative is based on real-life events; however, names, ages, genders, diseases, locations and/or dates have been changed in order to protect the privacy of the patients described.

ISBN 9781492818571

Design by Angel Guerra/Archetype

Author photograph by Ruth Bonneville

Illustrations by Dave Whamond

Kudos? Rotten eggs? thegraydude@gmail.com


For my four Muses:

Janet (Sustenance)

Ellen (Benevolence)

Kristen (Radiance)

Alanna (Exuberance)






I would like to thank all the people who have encouraged and helped me with this project:

Birdielyn Gray, Ólöf & Ken Hardy, Joan Hardy & Tim Edginton, Doug & Michelle Chorney, the Sud family, Joanne Mayer, David & Kathy Lanthier, Colin Leslie, Joe McAllister, Dave Whamond, Prakashen & Jenisa Govender, Gregg & Lana Maidment, Theresa & Jerry Cianflone, Danny & Kelly Murray, Sonny Cochrane & Ardelle Kipling, Jillian Horton, Carol-Ann Veenkamp, Angel Guerra, Simon Burns, Sharon Butala, Brian Goldman and Dave Williamson.

A particular thank-you goes to Arnold Gosewich, without whose expertise and guidance this book would never have successfully navigated the convoluted corridors of the publishing world and made its way into your hands.

And, of course, the biggest thanks of all goes to my wife, Janet, for putting up with my impossible work schedules and off-kilter sense of humour for all these years.

Table of Contents



So What Exactly Made You Want to Become a Doctor?


Learning the Ropes: Med School and the First Urban ER Year


Welcome to the Machine

The Peds Ortho Blues

Even the Cool Kids Can Fall

Dude, Where’s My Stethoscope?

Fear and Loathing at 3,000 Feet

Elementary Questions

Life During Wartime

The Cleanest Boy Ever

The Drug Seeker

Two-for-One Special in the ER


Ma and Pa Kettle: The Rural Years




The Big Smoke

On-Call Gall

It’s Got to Be in Here Somewhere


Rocky II (The Sequel)

Alanna’s Birth

Snip, Snip

Last Call

Drug Charades!

Haute Cuisine

“I swear, he wasn’t breathing!”

Rollover Rob (The Adamantium Man)

Drinking Problem



Rick’s Tears

Parenting 101

Adventures in Paralysis (The Ventilator Blues)

Koyaanisqatsi (Life Out of Balance)

I, Carnival Duck (Apologies to I, Claudius)

The Simple Math of Medical Errors

Humble Pie

Every Breath You Take

Thank You


Tough Call

So Sue Me

3:00 a.m.

Carpool Conundrum

Chiaroscuro (Light and Dark)

Lost in Translation

Patients Say the Darndest Things!

Let’s Get Physicals

Survey Says… .

Prescription for Parenting Skills


Pssst…Want to Buy Some Medical Products?

Sahara Mouth

Beginner’s Luck

Out-bluffing the Kids

Legerdemain (Sleight of Hand)

Sometimes the Voices Are Real… .

Status Interrupticus

The Call of the Wild (Sorry, Jack!)

Tabula Rasa

Some Patients Are Never Ready

Shotgun Bubba



My Organic Patient

The Wonderful World of Golf



Betcha Can’t Eat Just One

Curious George


For Better or Worse

Prima Donna

Running the Supermarket Gauntlet

Rust Ring

655: Dead, But Dreaming (Trapped on Jacob’s Ladder)

Time Flies When You’re Having Fun!


There and Back Again: Return to the Big City


Should I Stay or Should I Go?

“We Put the K in Kwality!”

Where’s Waldo?

Gyne Stretcher at Midnight

Lost Soul

The Cost of Letting Go

Doctor Lockout

I Sure Do Love Ol’ What’s Her Name!

Is There a Doctor on Board?

Fit for Duty

Ode to a Carrot Juice Enema

When Your Compassion Runs Out


Time to Go

Piece of Cake


For This I Went to Med School? (Quiet, Sméagol!)

So There You Have It, Folks




So What Exactly Made You Want to Become a Doctor?

When I was seven I wanted to be a major league baseball player when I grew up. Either that or an astronaut. Doctor was nowhere to be found on my list of potential occupations. The following year my latent allergy genes manifested big-time. Almost overnight I became the undisputed poster boy for atopic disease. After a month or two of watching me scratch, sniffle and wheeze, my mother went out and found us a family physician.

Dr. Grenier was a lanky, middle-aged fellow with curly brown hair and an unruly moustache. He seemed to enjoy making house calls. Every Saturday morning he’d visit our modest little home in Chambly, Québec to give me an allergy shot. Although I wasn’t crazy about the injections, I didn’t put up much of a fuss because when he was finished he’d always wink and toss me the empty plastic syringe. If he wasn’t running too far behind schedule he’d accept my mother’s offer of a cup of coffee. While he drank it, he and my dad would sit at the kitchen table and have a spirited debate about whether Rusty Staub and the Montreal Expos would ever manage to climb out of the cellar in the National League East. When the coffee and conversation were finished he’d pack up his mysterious black bag, tell me to be un bon garçon, and zoom off in his neon-yellow Citroën.