Talk-To-Text Can REALLY Get You In Trouble!

texting periodic table

The marvels of modern technology have enabled us to put the spoken word into text form, saving us from texter’s thumb. However, talk-to-text is not the seamless, failsafe cell phone feature that we would hope that it would be, not by a long shot.

I will admit that I have become extremely lazy about writing short essays on my keypad, because it 1) takes forever, and 2) the tendinitis I already suffer from in my right thumb makes the whole process of texting extremely uncomfortable. Here’s the problem: if I am in a rush, I don’t always have time to check the text message before sending. That has led to some goofy, funny, and downright embarrassing text messages which have come from my phone! It doesn’t help that I listen to comedy when I am in my car, so if I fail to turn the radio volume down, my phone will at times pick up a raunchy phrase from the radio.

There is a particularly funny example which occurred recently which I will share with you. I had been in a text exchange with a friend, and wanted to ask about how my friend’s week was going. After activating Google Talk-To-Text, I said something along those lines and sent the text quickly without proofreading it, since I was in a rush to get to a meeting. This is what my phone ended up sending:

“You Masturbate I hope you have been enjoying your week and getting lots of work done.”

Holy crap. *%@&$*%!

Apparently the comic on the radio said those first two words which were dutifully picked up by my phone. I had to dig myself out of that one! I IMMEDIATELY texted my friend, “OMG my talk to text just picked up those two words. How embarrassing!”. Thankfully, my friend was understanding, and we had a good laugh.

There have been times when I have made a point of enunciating and speaking slowly into the phone, only to get some bizarre response which makes no sense. If it becomes that hard to get ONE word right, then I end up just using my thumbs to finish the text. Something like “I need to go to the store first but we can meet up later” can turn into “I knead to goat a duster first but we can meat up later”. Yeah, ummm, ok.

What I’d like to know is why my phone picked up the comic’s words so clearly that day, but has failed to pick up my words clearly when I am speaking slowly into the receiver. I think my smart phone may be on a mission to permanently infuriate me.

I would love to hear some of your funniest or most embarrassing text messages which resulted from talk-to-text mixups!

In Defense Of One Word Texters

K potassium

I will admit up front that I generally don’t enjoy typing out text messages on my phone, which is why I typically use talk-to-text. I will also admit that I frequently use responses like, “ok”, “sure”, “yes”, “no”, and at times, the dreaded “k”. Sometimes we are so busy trying to get through our days that lengthy text messages can really interfere with the cadence of the day. In those cases, brief responses seem totally appropriate, especially if they include the phrase, “Really busy right now, but will let you know.” My phone always gets that talk-to-text sentence correct, so I use it frequently as well. I figure that it’s better than not responding at all.

Some of my friends send longer text messages, but they are so well organized and to the point that I totally dig them (plus I really adore those friends). What grates on my nerves is when people (usually casual friends, acquaintances, clients, and patients) send lengthy essays which meander and seem utterly pointless, leaving me to dig through box after box of text messages. If I am in the middle of something, about to drive, or trying to sleep, I will let them know. However, some people don’t seem to get the hint and will continue to send one wordy text after another, a whole mess of them, basically talking AT me and refusing to respect the fact that I am busy. That’s when I am far more prone to resort to one word texts or state once again that I am not in a position to text back. Or I will just come out and essentially say, “GET TO THE POINT!”

Cuss Words And Why I Like Them

There is tremendous power in profanity, which is part of the reason why I like certain words. I don’t want to give you the impression that I am a complete foul-mouth, but I am certainly not going to lose my mind if the random S-bomb flies out of someone’s mouth or my mouth. I am very careful in certain situations, such as when I am around someone who finds cussing offensive, or when I am conversing with the majority of my patients. But the rest of the time, I don’t hold back at all, and sometimes surprise myself with the long strings of expletives which can tumble out of my mouth when I am all fired up. However, in these instances, I am usually alone in my car or at home, where I feel safe enough to open up a fresh can of obscenities and fling them into the air.

Let’s face it, many people like cuss words because they have personality. Some naughty words are so full of texture that you could almost bite right into them. For example, the word “fuck” has dimension and color to it. It’s lively, energetic, and emphatic, and that is exactly why I dig it. And in most cases, “fuck” is so benign that I honestly don’t think it deserves such a bad rap. Besides, there is something delicious about off-color utterances which supports our propensity for pushing the envelope.

I always find it puzzling that censorship laws still bleep out certain words, yet the context of the scene and dialog usually clearly give away the swear word which was spoken. At least the FCC got hip to what the public can tolerate on late night major network television, and allowed certain words, like “shit” and “asshole”, to let fly on shows like Conan.

What it comes down to is that the “bad words” which have been demonized in our culture are just WORDS. They don’t hurt people unless they are used in a malicious fashion to insult others, such as racial slurs. As long as we avoid words which are inflammatory, or used in a destructive manner, we shouldn’t have to fear them at all.

Cell Phones Are Taking Over

I thought the following article was very well written, so I am sharing it here. Stuart Jeffries may have written it almost nine years ago, but a great deal of what he says rings true (pun intended).

Original post can be found at:

To hell in a handset

Watches are on the way out. The days of the diary are numbered. And cameras could be next. The world is becoming a poorer place, says Stuart Jeffries – thanks to the mobile phone

Stuart Jeffries
Thursday 8 March 2007

There will come a moment in about seven years’ time when I will make a fool of myself in front of my daughter. Surely it won’t take that long, you say. Be quiet. It will happen like this. One summer’s evening, she will be playing in the street with a bunch of other eight-year-olds and I will go out to call her in for tea. Thanks to the hovercars, free-floating teleportation platforms, jetpack-powered flying ice-cream sellers and other inventions that I confidently predict will be filling our skies come 2014, the noise will be so oppressive that I won’t be able to make myself understood with words alone. So I will be forced to make a simple gesture to tell her it’s time to come inside.

What will it be? I will tap my wrist where a watch should be. The time-honoured sign that you should wrap up one activity and prepare for another. One problem: it won’t work. Not in 2014. She won’t know what I’m on about. She will look at me blankly with that soul-destroying gaze that children are hard-wired to give their parents. (Don’t worry, young techno-hipsters – such old fartdom will be your fate too. There will come a time when your grandchildren will recall how you used to sit them on your knee and play them your iPod or explain to them how you used ActiveSync to back up your email address list. Oh, how will they laugh, and how they will trash everything you held dear. iPods – can you imagine anything more tacky? All that shiny plastic – yeuughh! And emails! How sad is that? No videocalls or anything? Pathetic!)

For months afterwards, my daughters’ playmates will tap their wrists satirically whenever they see her in the playground (if playgrounds exist in 2014), and so I will become a figure of fun. The old fart with his incomprehensible gestures. My daughter’s shame.

Why? Because few people will wear watches in the near future. Wrist-borne chronometers are so last millennium. In the US, a survey by investment bank Piper Jaffray & Co found that nearly two-thirds of teens never wear a watch and that only one in 10 wears one every day. A quick glance around my office shows that I am, by virtue of wearing a watch, in the demographic most likely not to have broadband, know who/what Mika is, or bid co-workers farewell by saying: “Laters!”

True, wrist-borne chronoporn devices continue to appeal to deeply inadequate men with high disposable incomes. But let’s not allow the dreary fetishes of GQ’s target audience to spoil the story. Today a watch is the opposite of a status symbol. Indeed, the main reason I’m writing this piece is that I was spotted by an editor wearing a loser watch. It is a Lorus Sports, quite possibly purchased more than 10 years ago from Walthamstow market, and on its third rotting leather strap. It smells like feet. And not nice feet. If it was a song, my watch would be that one by Beck (“I’m a loser, baby, so why don’t you kill me?”). Keeps good time, though. Have you ever heard of Lorus? Of course not.

If I was a winner, I would drop my watch in a canal and tell the time with my mobile. In fact, if I was a winner, I would do everything on my mobile phone – even film myself dropping the Lorus in the canal and happy-slapping myself along the towpath. Increasingly, all the stuff you need to get through the day is focused in one piece of kit. Thanks to what manufacturers like to call “convergence”, today’s mobiles already allow you to tell the time, arrange your appointments diary, watch films, play games, and take pictures of your blocked sink that you can send as jpegs to your plumber, who will text you back a ludicrous estimate, which you can check by using your phone’s calculator function. You can use the phone to play that “hip” Snow Patrol/Killers/Go! Team track as you straphang on the Victoria line to the mounting fury of fellow passengers.

It can only be a matter of time before your mobile will allow you to operate the garage door, unlock the car, swipe your way into the office, bus, tube or nightclub. Already, the better type of phone can teach you to play the guitar, the screen showing finger positions for chords and the speakers telling you what they should sound like. If your phone is Wap-enabled, you can play DJ Rob’s pub quiz from Chris Moyles’ Radio 1 show. You need never visit a pub again. Or you might want to shoot yourself in the head.

The world of digital vortex – an interactive

Mobiles have become so much the focus of consumer technology that you might as well drop not just your watch, but your iPod, DVD camera, digital camera, calculator, alarm clock, diary, address book and PlayStation in the canal and go out with one sleek piece of kit. Soon you might even be able to burn your books because you’ll have them on your mobile-cum-iTablet. One problem: you’ll get mugged for your high-spec ponce-a-phone as soon as you pull it out of your trousers in public. And then, unless you’ve backed up every bit of data (which, trust me, you won’t have), you’ll be screwed. That’s because the omnicompetent mobile is a terrible thing. As HL Mencken put it: “For every complex problem, there is a simple solution … and it is wrong.”

That’s the trouble with convergence. It can be rubbish. Better to have a shame-mobile like my six-year-old Nokia, even though, quite possibly, it was made in the former Soviet Union from old Sinclair C5s and barely works as a phone. Like my car (keys in the ignition, door open, motor running), I have been leaving my phone in situations where ne’er-do-wells can steal it for years. No one has. Because I’m a loser, baby.

Convergence is not always what we want, but it is increasingly what we get. “Take the so-called digital home,” says futurologist Patrick Dixon. “Convergence might mean total control with wireless TV/video/music/web in every room, all from one online PC, also used for children’s games and homework – or a fridge that is also a web browser. But who really wants web access on a fridge door, or a single remote control for every device in the house, or a single device to play the same music in every room?” Technological innovation doesn’t simply supply what we want: it supplies more and more of what we don’t need. As Homer Simpson put it: “If they can put a man on the moon, why don’t my feet smell good?”

Technology evolves irrespective of our desires. Its onward march leaves us in the lurch, haunted by memories of things we used to do. For example, when Steve Jobs showed off Apple’s new iPhone earlier this year, he asked rhetorically how the thing would be operated: “Are we going to use a stylus? No, we’re not. We’re going to use the best pointing device in our world: our fingers.” Well, yes, Steve, but no. There’s no need to diss the past. I miss styluses (styli?), especially the one I used to play a very spirited version of the Marvelettes’ When You’re Young and in Love on a friend’s Rolf Harris Stylophone. Tread softly, Steve Jobs, for you tread on my techno-memories.

Technology’s evolution, as a result, often leaves us queasy. We feel a nostalgia for the near past – for its soothing gestures, for the obsolete body language we mastered so well – but mere discombobulation in face of the near future. The new gestures unleashed by new tech (for example, holding your hands above your head to signify taking pictures with a digital camera) have not been sanctioned by the test of time. Years after the arrival of the hands-free headset, many of us still cross the road to avoid someone who seems to be talking to an imaginary friend, when we should be checking their lugholes for miniature earpieces.

“Technology changes what is socially acceptable all the time by pushing boundaries,” says Tom Dunmore of Stuff magazine. “In terms of people talking into their mobiles, that’s become much more acceptable socially.” Maybe in your world, Mr Dunmore. “What amazes me now,” he says, “is how you see teenagers on trains using their mobiles like speakers, holding them up and playing music.” It is a confusing development: the very point, I thought, of personal stereos, MP3 players, Discmans and the rest was that they kept the sound, for the most part, in the user’s head. Technology takes us in socially discomfiting, unpredictable areas: it’s a pain, and not just in terms of GBH of the earhole.

For example, keyboards and computer mice (mouses?) will soon no longer be at the cutting edge of technology. Which is a shame for those of us who have only just got used to them. As a result, people will laugh at you if you make those spider moves with your fingers to signify typing, because in the future (according to Jobs), touch-sensitive screens will render keyboards obsolete. And that’s before we even get on to voice recognition. Our typing days may be numbered.

Amazing, isn’t it? Amazing, that is, that I’ve got so far through a piece on technology without referring to that scene in Minority Report where Tom Cruise sweeps his hands suggestively across a screen and thus gets the jump on the bad guys.

The point, though, is that technological development is shadowed by the ghosts of gestures associated with obsolete gear. You may be old enough to remember that to suggest typing, one would bash away at an imaginary keyboard and – this is the crucial bit – slam the imagined typewriter carriage sharply back to start a new line. Nobody does that any more. I used to do it with the aplomb of newshound Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday for years. But now no one understands me, so I’ve stopped.

What speeds up the rise in the semiotic scrapheap is just that drive for convergence, whereby mobile phone companies build more and more features into their kit, like digital Swiss Army knives. That analogy breaks down quite fast: there will be no digital way of shaving, cutting toenails, opening wine or making fire. Or maybe there will be. Perhaps there are no limits to convergence.

For instance, both Nokia and BlackBerry are poised to launch handsets with global positioning systems. Were it not for the fact that men find it hard to ask for directions, of course, satnav (“sadnav” to its critics) would have no reason to exist. But it does, and thanks to it, men will never have to ask for directions again. Instead, spoken instructions will guide them from power latte to power latte, from pillar to post, from Pontefract to Penzance. The press release for the BlackBerry 8800 says: “The new smartphone includes a full complement of features to appeal to mobile professionals who want to manage their work and leisure time effectively.” What a dismal world. Personally, I’ve never wanted to manage my leisure time, still less manage it effectively. But then, I am a loser. What, incidentally, is a mobile professional?

Another development will be bigger mobile phone screens. Tom Dunmore says that in the near future, watching films on your mobile won’t be quite as barmy an activity as it now seems. “The most significant development in that area is foldable screens, which will allow you to do proper web browsing and watch movies. You’ll be able to get memory cards holding two or three films. They’ll be great for flights where there isn’t much in-flight entertainment.”

Convergence is not the only game in town. “Mobile phone companies don’t just launch one phone,” Dunmore says. “They target different people with different ranges. Vodafone has a Simplicity range targeted at older users. Smart multi-function phones are less than 10% of the market. And there will always be gadget nuts who want separate high-end pieces of kit – be they iPods or DV cameras or whatever. But the converged proportion of the market will start to grow as phones become sexier.”

Hence, perhaps, the looming sexyphone face-off this spring. Who can resist a sexyphone face-off? It will be between the soon-to-be-launched iPhone, LG’s Shine phone LF KE970 (which has a makeup mirror that becomes a screen when you turn it on – sweet!), Samsung’s Ultra Smart F700, Motorola’s Z8, Nokia N610 Navigator, and the LG Prada. The last one should appeal to me: designed by Prada and built by Korean electronics giant LG, almost the entire front surface is a touchscreen (like the iPhone), and users can drag items around and navigate menus by tapping on the screen. It weighs 85 grams and looks droolworthily sleek. It is elegantly black, with an extra-wide LCD screen, MP3 player and a black leather Prada case. It also is less tacky than the Motorola phone designed by Dolce & Gabbana, which, when opened, shouted “Hello, Dolce & Gabbana!”

But would spending £400 on the LG Prada do the most important thing – impress my daughter? Possibly. After all, she loves nothing more than dunking things in baby food until they become useless. Her critique of the fatuities of technological innovation is more devastating than mine will ever be.

What the do-it-all mobile means for …


What we’ve gained Immediacy – you can see what you’ve snapped immediately and send it out to all your mates pronto. Suddenly, lots of new uses for images become available. For example, one of my colleagues takes photographs of the back of his head with his mobile phone when he is shaving his hair to make sure the cut is even. A mirror is a difficult thing to hold, you see. But if he uses a phone, he can take the picture of the back of his head. Shave a little more off. Take another photo. Shave a little more off. And when you’re happy with the cut, delete all the images (or send them to a mate). I’ve suggested he send these images to a gallery to see if they want to exhibit them under the title My Ever Changing Head.

What we’ve lost Remember those happy moments finishing off a roll of film outside the chemist? Asking a passing stranger to snap you having a sunburned post-holiday snog before you went into Boots to drop off the negs? No? Perhaps it was just me. And then the long, tantalising days waiting for the photos to be ready? Only to pick them up and realise that you forgot to take the lens cap off? Twerp.


What we’ve gained Our beautiful wrists are now unbesmirched by ugly clobber. And remember, before wristwatches, how your waistcoat pocket was really heavy because it was filled with your fob watch? No? Me neither. The very idea! But if you did have a waistcoat pocket that one day did have a fob watch in it, imagine how much happier you’d be now because it hasn’t – you wouldn’t walk with a lurch towards the left, as your pocket would be empty. All thanks to the advent of mobile phones.

What we’ve lost Annoyingly, if you wear a watch, you’re often asked the time by mates who can’t be bothered to get their mobile phones out of their bags and have a look at the digital chronometers themselves. Damn them! The only thing to do is to lose your watch and rely on your phone to tell you the time. Remember watching the second hand of your watch go round in circles for hour after hour? You can’t do that any more when you rely on a mobile to tell you the time – which is just as well, because it made you economically unproductive.

Listening to music

What we’ve gained Remember when you used to want to listen to a whole Wagner opera while on a train journey, you would have to take a box of CDs and feed them in succession into your Discman? And that it was such a palaver that by the end you didn’t care whether Valhalla burned or not? No? Perhaps it was just me. The great thing about having an MP3 player built into your mobile is that you don’t have to be burdened with gear. Not even an iPod Nano, which, as you know, weighs only as much as a bee’s wing. What’s more, your mobile has a speaker so you can annoy fellow travellers with your eclectic tastes. Result! Before Walkmen, you may not know, it was even worse: you would have to hire a man to carry your record player all around town. He would walk behind you, playing your LPs. Naturally, he had to walk very slowly so the needle didn’t bounce. It was a dark age for recorded music in many ways.

What we’ve lost What about the lovely artwork? Nobody savours the Roger Dean artwork on those Yes gatefold sleeve concept albums any more in this barbarian digital age. Least of all when your mobile phone is the source of all your sounds.

Phone calls

What we’ve gained We can call anybody whenever we like. For instance, you can call the hospital from the passenger seat and tell them (quite possibly) how much you’re dilated, when you’ll be arriving, whether you’d like an epidural, sugar for your tea, book the water birthing facilities, etc. In the past you couldn’t do things like that. Which was a shame.

What we’ve lost Punctuality is dead. In pre-mobile days, there was no way of letting someone know we were running late, so we made greater efforts to be outside the theatre at the time agreed. Now we can text them saying we’re running late – even if we’re not and, in reality, just can’t be bothered to meet as planned. Social life is now more fraught with petty resentments than it was before mobiles got on the scene. And now, dammit, anybody can call us whenever they like – it’s harder to hide from after-hours work calls. Virtual presenteeism is the norm. Worse yet, there are no longer movie plots where the guy knows the girl is alone in the flat and the killer is hiding behind the curtains. Today the hero would text Michelle: “Killa in yr flat. behind curtains. scarper! lol :)” And the film would be over in minutes. Rubbish, really.

TV and radio

What we’ve gained You can make a film of your fancy feet during a tango class in Macclesfield and send it to Juan, the Hispanic hottie you met in Buenos Aires last summer. He will be dazzled by your skills and your devotion to his culture and send you a text saying how much he loves you in broken English. You will move to Argentina and have a lurid affair with him and come home five years later, tired but happy, with three children who won’t like Cheshire at all. In the past you couldn’t do that.

Also, we can now watch My Family on our mobiles. And text Gardeners’ Question Time with complaints about their broadcast views on when is the right time to prune one’s pyracantha. Goody! Can this really be what Mr Nokia (or whoever it was) intended when he had a dream of making our lives easier with a portable telephonic device the size of a pillow all those years ago? Quite possibly not.

What we’ve lost Moments of quiet contemplation on the top deck of a bus unbroken by happy-slapping ruffians who knock your Proust out of your hands and put your resultant discomfiture all over their mobile network and the world wide web, probably when they should be in detention. What’s more, you can watch films on your phones in a format so small that any cinematographer worth their salt would cry to see you vandalise their art in such a manner. Neither of these developments is good.

What, really, is the point of watching telly on your mobile? Why don’t you just turn it off and do something else? Read a book. Remember them, for crying out loud? There’s never anything on anyway. Watching telly on the bus? Good grief. That is so pathetic. Get a life.


What we’ve gained No longer will you have to fumble for awkward opening lines in a club or pub teeming with fanciable techno sophisticates – instead you can let your phone do the introducing for you, as prospective partners wandering into range are automatically forwarded your profile. All you need is a Bluetooth-enabled phone and a roomful of hotties of either/both genders. If they like what they find in your profile, they can message you and perhaps even wind up having a non-virtual drink/snog/shag/child with you. Happy days!

What we’ve lost Talking like normal people used to. No longer do you need to deploy your marvellous range of pick-up lines (from “That’s quite a lovely Jackson Pollock, isn’t it?” to “Your face or mine?”) which you learned at a special evening class (Remedial Dating for Sociopaths 101) last autumn. But isn’t that a shame? After all, getting shot down by some imperious beauty for daring to ask her if she’d like a crème de menthe and kahlua used to be a rite of passage for a young man. But enough about me. Another downside is that rude people who you don’t know sitting at the next restaurant table can send you porn film clips on their similarly Bluetooth-enabled phone. It happens. But that doesn’t make it right.

Using the internet

What we’ve gained It’s marvellous to go to when you’re lost and equipped only with your mobile. And realise that the nearest Huang Chow Lane, where you are supposed to be meeting your friend, is in Shanghai, and you are in Walsall with only a West Midlands travel pass. Bummer.

What we’ve lost The possibility of being outside the techno loop while we’re on the bus home. Time was you could just stare at the rain running down the windows as you sat in gridlock. You might even catch the eye of that person across the aisle and, by the time you had to change to get the number 92, would have their number. Now you’ve got to check your email, text or study the news headlines. Otherwise you’re a nobody. It’s also a royal pain to write emails on your mobile, unless you’ve got a plug-in keyboard. Which, unless I mistake my guess, you haven’t.

Those Darned Machines! Technology And The Elderly


Many elderly individuals are completely baffled by electronics devices like cell phones, DVR’s, and microwaves. My mom will stop using her microwave when the power goes out and the clock resets, even though I have told her numerous times that the function of the microwave is not affected by the clock’s function. I bought her a pre-paid cell phone (her very first cell phone, by the way) for her birthday in November, and am scratching my head trying to figure out why she won’t use it. She keeps it turned off during the day, then when I visit her, she complains that no one calls her on her new cell phone! I have made sure to tell her numerous times that there is no way that anyone can reach her on the cell phone if it is turned off.

There are times when I go to visit my mom when she asks me to help her dial numbers which I have already programmed into quick-dial. This is sort of pointless, since I prefer to use my phone to make those calls when I visit. I keep trying to encourage my mom to use her cell phone when I am not visiting, and honestly don’t know why she isn’t excited about having a means to communicate with her friends. I know that her macular degeneration is robbing her of her vision, and that her arthritis is so bad that it can be a challenge to hold things, but my mom exhibits a complete refusal to accept gadgets from the modern age, and has done so for as long as I can remember.

I remember when my mom got a Mac computer in 1991, and was so afraid to use it that she never turned it on. She would wait until I came over, then would ask me to turn it on and show her how to perform the same basic functions that I would show her every single time. When she got a VCR, she asked me to show her how to use it every single time she wanted to use it, despite the fact that I wrote down detailed instructions on an index card and taped them to the front of the VCR!

Recently I came across an interesting article, which was featured on and which discusses the difficulties which elderly folk have with modern technology. The original link can be found here:

What I find totally fascinating is that there is research which backs the claim that frontal lobe changes and degeneration occur in the elderly, and that those changes render older people helpless and confused when it comes to figuring out how new tools and gadgets work.

Does that mean that younger generations will also exhibit the same confusion regarding new technology when they become much older? Are we all doomed to scratch our heads in confusion when the iPhone 35 comes out in thirty years?

My Mom Gets Her First Cell Phone Today

My mom’s 83rd birthday is today. She recently began asking for a personal phone line since the assisted living facility she resides at is very stingy about phone privileges. In response to her request, I plan to surprise her today with her own phone line. Instead of purchasing a land line, I thought it made more sense to get her a cell phone which had a large number pad, and was mobile so that she could make calls while she is in her wheelchair. It will be her very first cell phone!

Big Easy Plus Phone
Since my mom is pretty challenged when it comes to lots of technological bells and whistles, I opted for the Big Easy Plus Phone, with a prepaid cellular plan. She will get 800 minutes to start out with, which I honestly think will take her a while to burn through. I will help her with getting a list of the people she would be likely to call, and hopefully she will enjoy her birthday gift!

30 Actual Sentences Found In Patients Hospital Charts


I recently saw this post on a friend’s Facebook timeline, and was compelled to write a response to it. The thing is, most of these chart notes ARE funny, but some are taken out of context. In addition, the language used in several of the notes are completely appropriate when spoken within the medical world, so I clarified those notes in a comment which I posted. Here is the original list of chart comments, followed by my clarifying remarks.

1. She has no rigors or shaking chills, but her husband states she was very hot in bed last night.
2. Examination of genitalia reveals that he is circus sized.
3. Since she can’t get pregnant with her husband, I thought you might like to work her up.
4. The patient is tearful and crying constantly. She also appears to be depressed.
5. The patient has been depressed since she began seeing me in 1993.
6. Discharge status: Alive but without my permission.
7. Healthy appearing decrepit 69 year-old male, mentally alert but forgetful.
8. The patient refused autopsy.
9. The patient has no previous history of suicides.
10. Patient has left white blood cells at another hospital.
11. Patient’s medical history has been remarkably insignificant with only a 40 pound weight gain in the past three days.
12. Patient had waffles for breakfast and anorexia for lunch.
13. Between you and me, we ought to be able to get this lady pregnant.
14. On the second day the knee was better, and on the third day it disappeared.
15. She is numb from her toes down.
16. While in ER, she was examined, X-rated and sent home.
17. The skin was moist and dry.
18. Occasional, constant, infrequent headaches.
19. Patient was alert and unresponsive.
20. Rectal examination revealed a normal size thyroid.
21. She stated that she had been constipated for most of her life, until she got a divorce.
22. I saw your patient today, who is still under our car for physical therapy.
23. Both breasts are equal and reactive to light and accommodation.
24. Patient has chest pain if she lies on her left side for over a year.
25. The lab test indicated abnormal lover function.
26. The patient was to have a bowel resection. However, he took a job as a stock broker instead.
27. Skin: somewhat pale but present.
28. The pelvic exam will be done later on the floor.
29. Patient was seen in consultation by DR. Blank, who felt we should sit on the abdomen and I agree.
30. Patient has two teenage children, but no other abnormalities.

As a physician, I know that some of these chart notes actually make perfect sense to those who work in the medical field and who are on the hospital wards.

For example, “Since she can’t get pregnant with her husband, I thought you might like to work her up.” refers to a physician referring a patient to a fertility specialist who would be able to “work up” a patients to see what the issue might be with respect to difficulty getting pregnant.

Here’s another one: “The patient is tearful and crying constantly. She also appears to be depressed.” Crying “constantly” does not automatically infer that someone is depressed. Ostensibly the patient is distressed over something, but the clinical diagnosis of depression has a set of criteria which must be met on evaluation of the patient.

“The patient has been depressed since she began seeing me in 1993.” Really, just stupid. This patient had depression beginning at the very latest in 1993, and this clinician had begun seeing the patient at that time. So snicker all you want, but the clinician’s presence in the patient’s life is NOT the causative factor in her depression.

“The patient was to have a bowel resection. However, he took a job as a stock broker instead.” If I could count the number of times a patient was advised to have a surgical procedure, only to evade medical advice, I’d be a millionaire by now.

“The pelvic exam will be done later on the floor.” The “floor” refers to a hospital ward. This patient was most likely evaluated in the emergency room, so the plan was to do a full work-up, including a pelvic exam, once the patient was transferred to a regular bed in the appropriate ward or section of the hospital.

“Patient was seen in consultation by DR. Blank, who felt we should sit on the abdomen and I agree.” The phrase, “sit on the abdomen” means that the clinicians who were evaluating the patient had decided to hold off on any interventions with respect to the abdomen, most likely because they were confident that there was no imminent danger, and no need for surgical intervention.

The remaining chart notes ARE funny, and I could see why lay people find them amusing.
Hope this clears up some of the confusion regarding some of the notes which were perfectly sound within the medical world.