Gram’s stain joy

One of the most useful ‘tests’ in clinical microbiology is the Gram’s stain named after Hans Christian Gram from Copenhagen, Denmark.

This differential staining technique is one of the most important things we do in the clinical microbiology laboratory.

Unfortunately because of newer technology, e.g., fancy chromogenic media, latex agglutination, MALDI-TOF and nucleic acid amplification assays simple things like a wet preparation and a Gram’s stain are being done less often. A “wet prep” and a “Gram” are quick and easy and tell you so much about what is growing on a plate. That said, the newer technologies are ‘must haves’ in any modern clinical microbiology laboratory. I am so impressed with the value of the MALDI-TOF.

Last week I started with seeing a Gram’s stain consistent with Vincent’s angina and finished the day seeing gonococci in a female genital specimen from a patient with an interesting clinical history. I smiled all night thinking about how cool my day was.

A medical family

This is the first post to this blog. It’ll be short and sweet. Regular readers of Yummy Lummy know I’m usually light on words and let images tell the story.

I grew up in a medical family. My father trained in Otago and wanted to be an orthopædic surgeon. In the end Dad spent more than 30 years as a general practitioner in suburban Brisbane. Mum was a domestic science school teacher. In her teaching days the curriculum included zoölogy and physiology. This meant Mum taught how to dissect animals. As a kid I had access to Dad’s books and Mum’s instruments and while I’m not proud of it many animals in our backyard were captured and dissected.

One of my brothers is a medical practitioner and my maternal uncle is a specialist urologist (retired). My uncle’s eldest son and my cousin is a specialist otorhinolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat specialist).

Our dinner table conversation often revolved around medical discussion. It was second nature to us and I assumed as a boy, teenager and young man that talking about surgical procedures, infections and pus were perfectly acceptable topics for dinner conversation.

I’m happy I studied medicine. I’m happy I put myself through medical school working in a medical testing laboratory. I’m happy I specialised in clinical microbiology. I’m happy I learnt management. I’m happy I learnt how to work in a public service policy agency. I’m happy I can think medically and be surrounded by really interesting people every day.