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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.

Last modified: January 10, 2019