Funtabulously Frivolous Friday Five 131

Just when you thought your brain could unwind on a Friday, you realise that it would rather be challenged with some good old fashioned medical trivia FFFF, introducing the Funtabulously Frivolous Friday Five 131 (Christmas Special)

Question 1

Approximately how many people are injured by Christmas trees every year in the UK?

Reveal the funtabulous answer


According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, each year 1,000 people go to hospital after accidents involving Christmas trees

A further 1,000 are hurt by trimmings or in the process of putting up decorations

350 are injured by Christmas lights.

Question 2

What are you more likely to die of on Christmas day than any other day in the year?

Reveal the funtabulous answer

Acute myocardial infarction

Despite the myth that the ill often “hold on” to life during celebrations such as Christmas and birthdays, statistics show that more people die abruptly of a heart attack on Christmas day than on any other day of the year. [Reference]

Question 3

A rapid increase in the Autumnal postprandial girth of festive birds leads to the employment of which specialised profession?

Reveal the funtabulous answer

Turkey Masturbator

Most turkeys in factory-farm environments don’t live past three months, but for those that do, their plumpness makes it dangerous for them to have sex.

So people are employed to act as a middle-man between the stags and the hens.

Question 4

In 1844 who was called “Humbug, Humbug!” the insult ultimately ruining him and leading to his suicide three years later?

Reveal the funtabulous answer

Horace Wells

In 1844 the dentist Horace Wells demonstrated the first anaesthetic with nitrous oxide in Boston, Massachusetts.

The gas was not delivered for long enough or an insufficient dose was administered and the patient, undergoing a tooth extraction, shouted out in pain, Wells was booed out of the operating room with cries of: “Humbug, Humbug” . Wells was unfairly discredited by the medical establishment and never recovered from the humiliation.

Wells gave up dentistry and became a travelling salesman.

In January 1848, Wells self-experimented with chloroform for a period of four weeks. He became increasingly deranged. One day, delirious, Wells rushed out into the street and threw sulphuric acid over the clothing of two prostitutes. He was committed to New York’s infamous Tombs Prison. As his mind cleared he realised the horror of what he had done. Wells requested the Guards to escort him to his house to pick up his shaving kit. He subsequently slit his femoral artery after inhaling an analgesic dose of chloroform to blot out the pain

Question 5

Tiny Tim of A Christmas Carol. Apart from rickets, what is another differential for Tim’s short stature, asymmetric crippling disorder, and curious intermittent weakness that would lead to his death, if untreated?

Reveal the funtabulous answer

Distal renal tubular acidosis (type I).

From a review of pediatrics texts from 1830 to 1850, a recommended treatment plan would have included (1) general measures such as country air and exercise, and fish oils such as cod and halibut (vitamin D), and (2) specific treatments of tonics (containing combinations of belladonna, opium, sodium bicarbonate, sodium citrate, and potassium chloride) emphasizing alkalis, and splinting and bracing the limbs.

Such treatments with vitamin D and alkalinization with sodium bicarbonate and sodium citrate suggest the plausible speculation that Tiny Tim had renal tubular acidosis (type I), a disorder that is characterized by growth failure and, if left untreated, complicated by osteomalacia with pathologic fractures, hypokalemic muscle weakness and periodic paralysis, nephrocalcinosis leading to renal failure, and death.

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Funtabulously Frivolous Friday Five

Dr Neil Long BMBS FACEM FRCEM FRCPC. Emergency Physician at Kelowna hospital, British Columbia. Loves the misery of alpine climbing and working in austere environments (namely tertiary trauma centres). Supporter of FOAMed, lifelong education and trying to find that elusive peak performance.

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