I have come to the conclusion that dudes are remarkably dumb. This did not come as a shock to me, being a dude myself from time to time. Hear me out, I did not say all men, just dudes. In fact, sometimes women can be dudes. So what is a dude?
A person becomes a dude in several ways, often revolving around alcohol and statements such as “Dude, hold my beer. I'm going to go knock down that beehive.” Other times it just starts with a hypothetical, such as “Dude, I bet I could jump into the pool from the third floor,” or even the simple “Dude, you don't need to turn off the car before you fix that.”
Usually, when any group of exceptionally idiotic dudes come together (technically referred to as politicians—ba-dum-bum!), dudes encourage other dudes toward terrible decisions. One guy alone in a field with a bull would be very unlikely to urinate on an electric fence before escaping from said angry bull. But sprinkle in some dudeness, a dash of inebriation, and a smidgeon of belligerent encouragement, and you have the recipe for a spicy goring (and another great ED story).
A man might light the fuse of a firework and step back. A dude puts the Roman candle in his crotch and points it at his friends, shrieking, “I'm the USS Fire-crotch! Ahhhhhhhh! Ouch!” Most see a snake and let it slither on; a dude sees a snake and thinks, “Huh, a picture of me kissing that would be a hilarious Facebook post.”
Often the amount of dude in a person fades with age. Sometimes, however, duditude remains a lifelong affliction.
In the ED, we often see injuries secondary to dudeness. We also have to have conversations that seem painfully obvious to us but incoherent to our dude counterparts. I could go off on anti-vaxxers or using antibiotics for viral infections here, but my most recent encounter was with a dude who simply did not want a primary care physician because everything could always be done in the ED.
Paleo, Slurrybots, VegiMax
I had this conversation with a lady-dude at 3:20 one morning. As always, the experience has been modified slightly to protect the frustrating innocent.
Me: Hello, ma'am. What brings you into the ED?
Lady-dude: I had reflux. (Makes cringing face and points at belly and chest.)
Me: So you have belly pain?
Lady-dude: I didn't say that!
Me: So, um, what brings you into the ED?
Lady-dude: After I ate, I could feel it right here (absently points at the entire torso, possibly more so at the chest). It's reflux. I looked it up.
Me: Ah. OK, so when did this start?
Lady-dude: Three weeks ago. It doesn't feel like the heart attack I had two months ago. For my diet, I had been going full paleo, then slurrybots, then switched to VegiMax, but then I stopped, so then this happened. It's reflux.
Me: Huh, I'm not sure what that means. But did you check with your doctor?
Lady-dude: (Sighing.) I don't have a family doctor, I don't need one, I'm very healthy! I just told you I did slurrybots! I was on a diet. I lost 130 pounds in two months.
Me: Wow! Wait, really? That seems awfully fast to lose that much weight actually. Family doctors are very important to staying healthy. In fact, a primary care—”
Lady-dude: You're born with the diseases you're going to have (she said condescendingly while getting out her phone, minimizing Dr. Oz recommendations and opening her pictures). I was a professional runner just 18 years ago. Let me show you (she scrolls rapidly through 200 pictures, then shows me a blurry picture of a running person with a number attached). I was a professional. I know health.
Me: So have you had reflux in the past?
Lady-dude: No, but I went online. It's reflux. And don't tell me I need a PCP. That's what the last doctor kept saying, but I'm here, aren't I?
This conversation continued, and she ultimately allowed me to make sure she did not have a heart attack. I attempted multiple times to convince her that a primary care doctor was a good thing, but she countered with “I know my body” and “Takes too long to get in.” In the end, we agreed to disagree, and she left to continue her dude-attitude approach to life.
So next time you feel frustrated with a patient who brandished an overhead chainsaw while in a tree or tried to imitate that sweet parkour trick she saw on YouTube, take a deep breath and know it's just a dude.
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Dr. Brandtis an emergency physician with the Grand River Emergency Medical Group in Grand Rapids, MI. He was the winner of the 2008 Writer's Digest Short Short Story Writing Competition (http://bit.ly/1kIBaOf). Read his blog and other articles athttp://brandtwriting.com, follow him on Twitter@brandtwriting, and read his past columns athttp://bit.ly/EMN-BrandtsRants.