Recently I ordered a new stethoscope, my doctor recommended the Littman Classic II SE. I just got it in the mail and now I am wondering what things I can do with my old one.
First of all, the old standby: listening to stuff land in your stomach after you swallow something. You can actually hear the KERPLOP as the food lands in the pool of gastric acid. My kids always loved that exercise, and of course after drinking a full, tall glass of ice tea just to hear it land in your stomach it must be followed by jumping up and down on the bed to hear the sloshing. You don’t need the stethoscope for that part.
My husband, the ham radio operator likes to use it to hear which of the glowing tubes are not humming. Or transisters or some such electronic thingamajiggy No hum, no work good. Hmmm.
Well, my idea for a witty and fun list of things to do with a stethoscope had just come to a screeching halt. I guess they are only good for what they are designed for: listening to the inner workings of your body and making you look properly medical when you have it hanging around your neck.
It lets you hear bowels sounds and lung sounds and heart sounds and vascular sounds. It actually is an amazing tool. It can tell you if your lungs are filling with fluid, or collapsing or if the airways are too tight and air can’t pass through efficiently. It can tell you if your heart valves are not closing correctly and blood is leaking around them, or that the sac that the heart sits in is inflamed and rubbing on the heart itself (which it isn’t supposed to do) or it is beating too fast or too slow, or not pumping regularly. It can tell you if the bowels are functioning correctly or too fast or too slow, or stopped altogether. You can tell if a major artery like the aorta has a bunch of plaque built up creating a turbulent flow which puts you at risk for a stroke. It lets you hear the pulse you need to hear when you take a blood pressure.
I love to watch the actors on TV pretending to be doctors or nurses using them the wrong way around, or listening for a half second and announcing solemnly “This patient is not going to make it. The aneurysm is about to blow.”
Did I mention it makes you look all medical and cool when you have it hanging around your neck? I got stopped at a sobriety check point late one night, and the cop peered into my car with his flashlight and saw the stethoscope. “Late shift at the hospital, ma’am? You just go on through.” Cool. (Not that I was drinking, don’t even THINK that. It was just nice not to have to go through the whole rigmarole, it had been a tough shift.)