Monday, December 3, 2007

What's that smell?

Sara had quite a funny post recently, in which I wanted to reply the following conversation I with my OB one day. It got to be too damned long for a comment, even for me, so I'm posting it here.

Scene - I was sitting in the exam room of my OBs office, waiting for my turn. Since I was naked from the waist down, the reading materials within arm's length were pretty limited. What I ended up with was a flip chart of gyno diseases. I had flipped to a particularly nasty looking picture and started to read to learn more about it. The description I read was ~"... distinguished by green frothy discharge ..." and at that exact moment, my ever smiling and wonderful OB walks in.

Dr looks at me questionably due to the look of horror and disgust I wore.
Me: "frothy?"
Dr: "Oh yes. It's quite smelly too."
Me: "Oh my god. And poor you, these rooms have very little ventilation!"
Dr: Laughing, "Comparatively speaking, the smell isn't too bad, but there are times I wish I could open a window."

I look at him with the "please continue" quizzical look on my face. He has known me for almost 4 years at this time and we always joke around, so he continues without me having to ask.

Dr: "There are two horrible smells in this world. Number one is a GI bleed."

This was kind of funny to me to begin with, as one of my best friends was a nurse in the GI (Gastrointestinal) lab at the time and she always told me the gross stories. These stories made another one of our friends literally gag each and every time. Well, just a day or so before this exchange between me and my OB, my nurse friend told me they go through cans and cans and cans of "fecal odor eliminator" whenever a patient had an "issue". She said if you woke up in the GI lab after a procedure with the smell of deodorizer all around, it meant you shit yourself, which I found hilarious.

Me: "Ah, I've actually heard this. And does the number two smell have anything to do with 'froth'?"
Dr: "Number two is the smell of a lost tampon."
Me: "Oh my."
Dr: "Yes. I have to hold my breath once I am about to pull it out. I wear two rubber gloves, folding it in the first glove as I remove it. Then I put it directly into a plastic bag and have a nurse take it out to put in the hazardous waste immediately. I have a third nurse in the room just so I can have it taken out right away. And the smell lingers."

I'm looking a bit shocked.

Me: "Gross. And this happens often?"
Dr: "More times that you'd think."
Me: "Really? Like more than once a year?"
Dr: "We usually get one a week."



HereWeGoAJen said...

Yuck. Things like this are why I did not become any type of doctor.

IdleMindOfBeth said...

I can't believe I'm going to ask this, but... How long does a tampon have to be "lost" to create a smell that rivals a GI bleed?

And who the HELL are these women that lose tampons? for long enough to cause THAT smell? HOW does that happen?

I'm just stupified. That's.... that's.... I don't even know what that is!


Anonymous said...

my lean cuisine tastes a lot different than it did before I read that. lol...but seriously thats awful!

Anonymous said...

I second the GI bleed. When I worked on the ambulance, those were the calls where you got in and got out as fast as humanly possible - the smell is as close to death as you can get without actually finding a decomposing body.

I worked with an ER physician who would smell the speculum after removing it. He was the creepiest doctor I had ever met, and this just put me over the top. I was told, however, that for an OB/GYN, smell is a ligitimate diagnostic tool. And the lost tampon . . . I never understood that one, although most of the ones we saw were young girls who were using them for the first time, 'lost' the string, and were too ashamed to tell anyone until they were doubled over from the pain of massive infection. Yuck.

Katarina Jelly Beana said...

You, my dear, made me laugh out loud for the first time today. This is a significant accomplishment!

Natalie said...

Ack! That's hilarious and scary all at the same time!

And thx for your wonderfully supportive comment today (well, always). Today really cheered me. Thank you:-)

Monica Fayth said...

the dad of a friend of mine in high school was a doctor (gp) and one of his worst moments was taking out a tampon after months--or was it years? =/

Anonymous said...

sick! i can top that...i had a sorority sister who had a "lost tampon" and she was really desperate. her father was a gyno...i'll let you figure out the ending.

KatieM said...

Holy Cow...EEWW!! Seriously, once a week? I'm with Beth on this one, how long does one have to lose a tampon for that smell to occur? And two, how does one lose a tampon in the first place? Ok, maybe I can see the string disappearing and you have to go find it, but at least you know you still have a tampon up there! Do these ladies just forget?

I had a friend who kept a tampon in for 2 days because she was drunk and forgot about being on her period. She finally figured it out when it started to come back out. Hence the reason I don't even begin to understand how you can lose one up there! Your cervix isn't going to let it enter into your uterus and your va-jay jay only has one way out! Did these ladies not have sex and realize something was a bit uncomfortable? And seriously, since it isn't THAT big down there, why can't these ladies get to it themselves and pull it's a bit less embarrassing that way. Unless of course an infection started, but then that thing would have to be in there for awhile...

Wow, so many questions and confusion with that one....

Kaci said...

Eeewww - ewww! I've never understood how someone loses a tampon. I don't even want to imagine what it would smell like. Barf.

I actually asked my first gyno how she could stand all the smells she must encounter - she told me she had a bad sense of smell so it was not a problem.

Anonymous said...


My sister was a nurse in a hospital and one of her patients smelled REALLY bad. They eventually figured out that she'd had an IUD left in for 24 YEARS! She'd just forgotten about it and it caused a terrible infection.

nancy said...

Hoping For a Child ...

Oh. My. God.


Dr. Grumbles said...

(Spits water onto laptop screen)


I am so glad it is not just me. And glad no doc had to get involved. And no odor eliminator cans were required!

Unknown said...

Ewww! This has completely made me rethink my desire to become an ob/gyn

Birdee said...

Oh my God, I'm sick, how the hell do you loose a tampon? Where does it go? seriously, I removed my own IUD, I think I could find a lost Tampon before I went to an OB for help.
(gaaaag) I'm still sick.

That was one of the sickest posts and yet my favorite I've read in a long time. And you tell it so Great too.

Haasiegirl said...


i just cant imagine nancy. This is hilarious. I guess maybe after kids things get lost more often. LOL

Aimee said...

Okay, the lost tampon story had me laughing out loud. And uh, yeah, the dad story is seriously creepy.

Ali said...

Too funny (and disgusting!).

Anonymous said...

LOL! That is hilarious. All of it. Thanks for the laugh!