Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Not Knowing Doctors (not really anyway)

My doctor likes wearing heavy gold jewelry which includes the slightest touches of leopard print. When I met her for the first time a year ago, I thought "how cool, how funky," and I almost instantly liked her. Since then I have seen her twice more and always she is wearing the gold leopard jewelry. But aside from her colorful taste in accessories, what impresses me about her is her memory and the fact that she seems genuinely interested in my well-being.

During a recent visit, she asked me how things were in my life. Now, this may very well have been the first time that a medical professional has ever asked me that question in my lifetime. Usually doctors come sweeping in with their starched white coats and ask, "What can we help you with today?" Right to the point, no nonsense and definitely no leopard print. I told her about Alan and the cancer and she remembered from a previous visit back in March, and I wanted right then and there to know her better. Here was a woman who knew all about me, all about my history with exercise-induced asthma, my allergies and my family history of breast cancer and high cholesterol. Sure it was all written down and checked off on the sheet of paper I filled out when I first checked in, but the bit about Alan was not.

As I sat there waiting for her to write new prescriptions for me, I thought how odd it was that she should know so much about me and yet for me to know nearly nothing about her except for which ones were her favorite earrings. I considered asking her about her life. "How's the hubs?" I might ask. Or maybe I could squeeze in a fun fact about leopards or the production of precious metals. But before I could say anything, she turned and asked if I might like to see a psychologist to help me deal with things.

I told her that that might help, especially when it feels as though my heart might beat a hole into my chest, then I laughed nervously. Another doctor who will know all about me, but who I won't know anything about in return? A sort of strange concept. Maybe he/she will also like leopard print jewelry, maybe we could bond over that.

6 comments:

Extranjera said...

It's funny how different we all are. I always freak out when any kind of professional who I have a 'work' relationship with; my doctor, my dentist, my physio, etc, asks me something about my personal life. I also don't want to know anything about them. Knowing about where they went on vacation somehow erodes my trust in them as omnipotent and all capable of putting in that filling without slicing my lip in half.
Finnish doctors are like that, impersonal. So I guess it has to do with how I was brought up. But Danish doctors on the other hand, have receptions that look like living rooms and ask you how your marriage is doing.
I used to fight the urge to run away screaming.

CAM said...

LOL yeah my psych soothed me with her inability to completely not remember anything from one week to the next (helped with the overwhelming thoughts that she went home and told stories about me over dinner parties)...in fact her memory was so bad she once told me the same "pep" story three times and I still didn't feel comfortable actually fessing up that I'd heard it all before. I felt very safe talking to someone who was that forgetful. I agree on the doctor thing though....it is nice when they know something personal about you that means they don't look at you and just see like those medical dummies.

Lynz said...

kudos to you for agreeing to see someone...it's amazing how much it can help! best of luck, and maybe he/she will have a leopard print couch for you to spill your guts on...now that would be cool!

The Bug said...

Talking to an impartial person about emotional issues really helps. If they're good at their jobs they don't judge, yet help you reach some sort of resolution. The problem with only using friends as sounding boards is that they might want to make you feel better, without helping you to really see the situation.

PoMo said...

believe it or not...but my own father is a psychiatrist of the child variety. i was never really close with him growing up and i'm pretty sure he came uber close to fattening me up with ritalin on a few occasions, but it's strange how he always knew when i really needed help without me ever saying one word. as i've gotten older, i realize the burdens he must have had to carry every day, especially dealing with children and i now understand why he may have been the way he was. we're like peas and carrots now, and he still knows exactly the right words to say when i need to hear them the most. this is my shout-out to docs! HOLLAAAA!

2busy said...

I never know anything personal about my doctors, however I seemed to get attached if I see them for a long time. We recently had to change doctors due to changes in insurance and I had to drop a doctor I had been seeing for 13 years. It felt like I was cheating on him...

On another note, I think of my blog as my psychologist. It helps.

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