Rookie Error: When Medical Students get sick

Fizzy recently wrote about a nurse who misdiagnosed herself with lung cancer instead of pulmonary TB. It seems to me that health professionals are notorious for underdiagnosing, misdiagnosing or overdiagnosing themselves.

Did you know that there is an actual Wikipedia entry for “Medical Student Disease”? In other words, thinking you have whatever disease it is you are currently studying. More than half of my class has experienced this (not a scientific study, sorry).

Something funny happened to me yesterday. I’ll spare you the details since people I actually know periodically read this blog, but I became convinced that I had macroscopic haematuria. I have seen this in the clinical set-up so I had no reason for doubt.

I had been feeling rather tired and weak for a few days, so this “finding” was, to me, an ominous sign. And I have had patients with all sorts of renal failure. Not a very nice diagnosis to get.

So I hastily procured some urine dipsticks and let me just say, I have a newfound respect for the poor patients who have to “give a sample”. It is a little dehumanising. I would rather be poked several times for blood.

Anyway, the dipstick results were as clean as can be.
Of course I was relieved, but I was a little confused too. The only reason for that colour…

Then it hit me – and when it did, I felt like a complete idiot.

I spent the past weekend with The Boy and his mom. His mom cooked the most delicious beetroot. I had a beetroot bulb for lunch and supper every day of the weekend…


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  2. I love this story. I once called my friend (a surgery resident) to see if she could get me an appointment with one of her general surgery attendings because I was losing blood from the other end. Fortunately I realized I’d had a beetroot salad the previous night before I called the surgeon to request a colonoscopy.

    Isn’t hypochondriasis fun?

  3. You know this only happens to some people, right? I tried to do it to myself once out of curiousity, eating a whole tin of beetroot. No change in pee. Very disappointing. Fortunately I love beetroot. 😉

    1. LOL! Thanks for stopping by; and for letting me know. I didn’t know that… although I think it’s more than just happening to some people, it’s also about the time/other factors. Because when I was younger I used to eat beetroot as though it was chocolate, and this never happened… 😛

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