Playing Doctor




Initial Visit?

Wednesday, November 2

A doctor walks into the internet and says, ‘I’ve got good news and bad news...’

The good news is that when I see a lawyer I’m no smarter or honest than you are when you go to see a doctor.


The bad news is that when you see a doctor, you’re probably a moron.

The worse news is that if you aren’t a moron, then you’re a liar. The worst possible news is that you might—unfortunately—be both.


The reason doctors are always interrupting you is that:

  1. You’re pointing at your pelvis and saying your thyroid hurts.
  2. You’re explaining you were diagnosed during the Vietnam War with a disease that was discovered in the early nineties.
  3. You’ve had a sore throat for two days and are demanding an MRI because the internet says a sore throat might be caused by nasopharyngeal carcinoma.
  4. You’re telling me in terrific—imaginary—detail what your neighbor’s friend was diagnosed with fourteen years ago.
  5. You’ve refused to quantify ‘a while,’ and despite being asked to clarify your answer five times, you insist on saying ‘quite a while,’ ‘for a long time,’ repeated ‘a while,’ and ‘seems like forever.’ Then, when pushed with a choice of ‘one week, one month, one year, or one decade?’ you begin an argument with your husband that lasts fifteen minutes if the answer should be ‘one year and sixteen days’ or ‘one year and seventeen days.’



Now, don’t get me wrong.

I know you’re sick. You’re afraid of misspeaking and have no idea what’s important, so you error on the side of too much of the irrelevant—while, unfortunately, leaving out the relevant.

I know you’re not feeling well and that you’re willing to say anything to have me tell you that everything’s going to be okay. Alternatively, you could be aching for some bizarre and incurable malady. But I know that you’re doing the best you can.

It’s my job to ‘redirect’ your answers as gently as possible. And I do. And I often succeed in redirecting without being rude.

But often, I have already shifted into veterinarian mode. Knowing that your answers are confabulations and half-truths, I’ll gather information from what your body can tell me.

My examination will become like a magician’s show: constant misdirection and subterfuge. My stethoscope becomes the medical equivalent of a magic wand and my ophthalmoscope becomes a rabbit I can pull from your ear.

It’s a curious thing. I’ll do these things benevolently. I do them to get your intellect—or lack thereof—and motivation—as ulterior as it may be—out of the way for the benefit of your healing and relief from pain.



I’m not sure which part of this makes me more of an asshole: my understanding of your incompetence or my acceptance of it.

It might be the higher road to expect more and become angry with you, instead of pretending to believe the things you tell me, all the while offering my smiling reassurance until I can figure out why you are ill, so that I can try to heal you.

4 Comments:

11/02/2005
Blogger Spider writes:

But often, I have already shifted into veterinarian mode

What a great line - I think all good Doctors have a big piece of a Vet in them - afterall, we are stupid and sick - what do we know...

 


11/02/2005
Anonymous Anonymous writes:

I take it your poll results have prompted you to remove the "uncynical" from Wednesday's posts...

 


11/02/2005
Anonymous bettyplease writes:

Is your intention to further contextualize the picture of you in the previous post?
If so, it's working well.

 


11/02/2005
Blogger Bewareoftheblog writes:

A friend of mine has this burning sensation when he pees. It's like pins and needles. My friend has tried Neosporin, aloe, and kool-aid. What should my friend do about his penis?

 


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