An Unforgettable Patient: The Turkey Lady

Sometimes we have the best patients. Sometimes we have the worst one. However, the ones that we never forget can be the ones that we most want to. These are the patients that, in some large or small way, manage to change the way we forever perceive the world around us. This is a story about why this isn't always a good thing. Nurses Humor Article


An Unforgettable Patient: The Turkey Lady

A philosopher would say that there are certain things in this life that are inevitable. For example: Death, taxes, and the fact that you will hear that joke at least once, and it won't even be funny the first time.

As nurses, though, we tend to have much more practical sensibilities. We get down into the trenches every day, in the mud, blood and other viscous fluids and often end up with some stories to tell. These are rarely heartwarming stories, because the same law of inevitablity applies here: if you get an experienced group of nurses together in a casual environment, it is certain that within an hour, they will be sharing the funniest, darkest, and most appetite-suppressing stories that you can imagine. And then some.

During one of these exchanges, I happened to bear witness to the now-infamous-at-my-hospital (and have been warned under pain of death and/or severe bodily harm by my loving wife to never, ever tell this story to friends or family over Thanksgiving dinner) story of the Turkey Lady.

As the story goes, one of our patients had come in for part of her annual physical. She was already very well known to the staff for having a loud, Manhattan-flavored voice, an excellent sense of humor, and a sense of the appropriate so microscopic that scientists have not yet developed instruments to measure it. She had apparently become tired of the big-city life and moved to Texas, started a ranch to raise horses and other livestock, and never looked back. She has been described as sounding like Fran Drescher attempting to read Dolly Parton's lines in a so-bad-it's-good spaghetti western, and I don't dispute it.

In any case, our lovely patient happened to be visiting for a pap smear and cervical exam. As most of you know (and dread, from all accounts), this is a procedure that generally requires the patient being in stirrups before the cervix is examined and a small sample is taken. Unfortunately, this procedure requires a bit of awkward positioning and invasion of rather personal space by the examining RN, PA or physician.

As it happened, my friend relating this story happened to be doing the cervical exam. Mid-exam, as she was trying her absolute best to remain professional during a rather sensitive procedure on a patient who was maintaining a running dialogue of shall-we-say "earthy" personal anecdotes and borderline-obscene jokes, the patient suddenly (and uncharacteristically) became very quiet. Concerned that this could be a sign something was wrong or that she was causing the woman undue discomfort, our friend enquired as to whether everything was alright, and if the woman was uncomfortable at all.

"Oh, no no; you're doin' just fine, hon'," the woman replied. "It's just that, well, I can't get this image out of my head, but I don't rightly know how to bring it up..."

Now curious, my friend asked what the woman meant.

"Well, you know it's the holidays hon'."

My friend nodded.

"And, well, I probably wouldn't even think of this otherwise, you understand."

My friend again nodded her agreement.

"Well, when you're doin' these exams, hon... Do ya ever, y'know, think about it like stuffing a Thanksgiving turkey?", she asked, grinning and raising her eyebrows at my friend, who was, I will remind you, still mid-exam.

Trying to hold back laughter at both the mental image and the fact that the woman was clearly trying to make her uncomfortable (not very easy to do with OB/GYN nurses, as many of you are aware), my friend simply smiled and said "Well, I can't say that I ever did before, but I suppose now I always will."

Now grinning ear-to-ear, the patient leaned forward as much as the situation would allow, staring my friend dead in the face... And started GOBBLING at her.

Cracking up the entire time, still staring my friend dead in the eye, the woman started gobbling like the most strangely-accented turkey the world had ever seen.

Tears streaming from her eyes from trying to hold back laughter, my friend immediately concluded her business. She holds to this day that she managed to make it as far as the supply room (about halfway down the hall) before she literally collapsed to the floor, crying and holding her sides with uncontrollable laughter.

Also, I should mention that, ever since that day, she has insisted on a Thanksgiving ham. She has not explained to her husband why.

And that, dear readers, is the story of the Turkey Lady, and how she found her way into the hearts (and dinner plans) of so many nurses here at my hospital.

Happy holidays.

Novae is constantly engaged in a life-or-death struggle between himself and his better judgment, on the run from his past and screaming naked into the future. He will probably be played by Channing Tatum in the inevitable documentary about his life, because he has almost certainly done something awful enough to deserve that.

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Specializes in Med/Surg,Cardiac.

I'm not sure that my pap will ever be the same now that I have read that. Although the lady was accurate I suppose. Haha thanks for sharing this story. It is funny.

Long Term Care Columnist / Guide

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

108 Articles; 9,984 Posts

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych.

ROFLMBO!!!! :roflmao:

Wow...Just, WOW lol :)


153 Posts

I usually talk like a pirate during mine.

Very well written.


108 Posts

Now that was a funny story.. And you wrote it quite nicely as it was a very vivid description! Happy Holidays :cheeky:


97 Posts

Ah, memorable pts are the best!

My Tday patient was the night before Tday. I had a meth addict come in with a drumstick lodged in his anus, screaming about how it kept Satan from fisting him. He presented the baster as Satan's male organ and claimed Satan ran off with the rest of the turkey.

It's a miracle this guy didn't rupture himself. He was discharged in the morning with a sore butt and feeling like an idiot.

I had a drumstick at my friend's house on Tday, we laughed our butts off as I told the story.


6 Posts

My pap will never be the same again....funny story!

teeniebert, LPN

563 Posts

Not sure which was funnier--the story or the author's bio!

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