Monday, January 15, 2007

My Patient Life

I met a very nice young man today. He wore a suit and a tie and a white coat and his hair was neatly trimmed. He took the time to explain to me what a white blood cell count was and how it could show how severe an infection is. He explained what the x-ray showed and why it was important to repeat the x-ray after treatment to make sure the problem wasn't something more serious. He did a very nice job with his patient.

When he came back with my prescription for antibiotics he said, "So, I just noticed that you're a doctor?"

"A forensic psychiatrist," I said, meaning "yes".

I don't use my initials when I'm off-duty. He may have been a bit embarrassed talking like he did to a physician, but I loved it. He did a wonderful job. Given the choice between being a doctor and being a patient I would always prefer to be the doctor, but in situations where I'm the patient I want to be the patient.

A social worker friend suggested that doctors who become patients get better care than "regular" patients, but this guy didn't know until the end of the appointment that I was a physician. I can't say whether I as a physician would treat a physician patient differently because so far I haven't had any doctor-prisoners. Maybe that's something Dinah or Roy could comment on.

Regardless, I'm getting the pneumonia treated. After the past three days lying flat on my back I will have another two days confined to the house avoiding contagion. It would be poor form to be the one to trigger an epidemic in a correctional facility. I will be relying on our readers and my fellow bloggers to keep me from going bonkers with boredom. So far I've only left the house for healthcare and groceries, and I'm going mad, mad, I tell you!


alwaysthegoodgirl said...

Ooh, that sucks. I had pneumonia in my second year of medical school, uh, which was last year. It was not fun.

That is nice that your doctor explained all of that to you. I recently saw a new doctor in the past year who explained to me how the intestine was a muscular tube, which he tried to demonstrate by squeezing my arm like a boa constrictor. If I was a non-medical person, I am not sure if I would have found that helpful or patronizing.

I hope you feel better soon. :)

NeoNurseChic said...

Pneumonia! Holy crap! Had thought I was developing pneumonia after the "swedish fish aspiration incident" but fortunately, this was not the case! As of today, my cough has finally gone! I'm sorry you are so sick.... That sucks!! Our family best friend who was diagnosed with metastatic lung ca the day before Thanksgiving is also stuck in the hospital with pneumonia - of the fungal variety...Not good. The bug is running rampant! Doesn't it make ya want a suction setup?

As far as doctor as patient - well, I consider myself qualified to comment on the role of nurse as patient. But - fortunately most of my doctors have known me since before I was a nurse, so they treat me like a regular person. I still don't feel like I get enough info sometimes. I hate when I walk out of the office and go, "Hmmm..I don't know if I'm supposed to take this pill in the morning or at night." (From my patient experiences, that is truly the one piece of information that I am almost always lacking - and frankly, the drug manuals don't tell me what time of day to take the pills - so you docs, when you put a patient on a med....ANY med...please don't forget to tell your patient what time of day to take it! lt's not that easy to find out and it does matter! Sorry, rant done! haha) I have been told that I've been put on more "dangerous" meds at times without as much monitoring on the basis that I'm a nurse and I know when things are wrong. This would be a good time for me to say that I'd rather be treated as someone uninformed.. I'm glad you have a nice, caring doc. I like to think I have a pretty good setup of caring docs as well.

I can send you my piano cds song by song if you want entertainment. I slept in today so I haven't played piano up around 1. I did just finish watching "The Prince of Egypt" on HBO (I actually own this movie as well!), so now I'm in the music mood again. If I make more songs, maybe I'll send 'em to ya if you want - granted, I haven't tested the vocal cords yet today, so we'll see what happens! ;)

Feel better!!!!!

Carrie :)

Anonymous said...

I called you yesterday. I asked about your symptoms. I spent time (unbilled) on the phone with you. I've asked several times if you need anything, have even offered to have Roy make soup for you, and you know I'd trek out there if you needed anything. And I read on the BLOG that you have pneumonia????????????? Gee thanks. I hear you have an unopened can of soup I brought you when you were sick 10 years ago. This might be a good time to open it.

Oh, by the way, I had pneumonia in 1998. I called my doctor, a very nice woman whom I wouldn't recognize if I saw her on the street. She was off on maternity leave with her 5th (yup) child. I spoke with a nice young man and suggested that since I never ran fevers and this one was getting worse after 5 days, I might like an antibiotic. He asked some questions, said there was no source (my lungs, my lungs, I think it's bronchitis). He saw me and xrayed me and said, ah ha, pneumonia, wrote me a script, promised I'd be better in 48 hours: I wasn't. I called after 46 hours, he said it wasn't long enough. I called the next morning, covering doc number 2 offered to hospitalize me (ah, no thanks) and changed the antibiotic. I was good to go shortly thereafter. The moral of thestory being, if you're not better very soon, you need a different antibiotic.
your co-blogger.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I'm nice to all my patients, or at least I try. I return all their calls promptly. I try to accomodate their schedules as best as I can. For a shrink, I probably talk too much. With docs, I think I may use more medical terms without explaining them, that's about it. I've never squeezed anyone's arm for peristalsis. -dinah

DrivingMissMolly said...


I am sorry that you aren't feeling well. I hope you get better soon because your patients need you and we do too!


ClinkShrink said...

I had to blog about the physician-as-patient thing while it was still fresh in my mind. Then as soon as I finished that I saw the NYT piece I'm blogging about tomorrow and the rest was history. Since I got home from the clinic I haven't been off the blog long enough to call you Dinah. Pretty sad, I know.

Thanks to everyone for responding to my blatant appeal for pity. I plan to enjoy each and every morsel.

Midwife with a Knife said...

Clink, I hope you feel better really soon. Pneumonia really sucks!

In terms of the doctor as patient thing, I know what you mean. I had a great PCP when I was a resident. I'm a very bad patient, and she had this great combination of understanding and she was as firm with me as with any other patient. I only saw her like 4 times in 4 years, but each time, she treated me like a patient.

Once, when taking me out of work (I tried to work with pneumonia, passed out in the OR) she told me that either I stay home for 2 days "voluntarily" or she was calling my program director. She was right, I wasn't well enough to be safe to take care of patients.

I know nothing about neurology; I showed up in her office convinced I was having an SAH when I was having a status migraine (for 5 days!). She reassured me in exactly the appropriate lay language that I wasn't going to die, and (again) sent me home.

She also didn't laugh at me when I called her on a Sunday because of a bizzarre reaction to prednisone (I became extremely emotionally weird (that's probably not the best clinical description) while taking a course of prednisone for an asthma exacerbation), she recognized it was the prednisone (which I didn't), and took me off the stuff, which fixed the problem.

I guess this is a rambling way of saying that when doctors are patients, they need to be able to just be patients. I'm glad your nice young man doctor was good to you.

Anonymous said...

You know, Clink's infiltrate aside, this is a good blog topic. Do I have doc/patient stories, oh, but I'm a psychiatrist so I can't tell them! More than a decade old, so maybe my favorite is the senior surgeon I treated who'd had emergency heart surgery and never went for any follow up. I asked why, "They didn't tell me to come back." Or my former colleague who didn't have a primary care doc and monitored his own coumadin level (taken for the valve replaced decades before)...oh, the list marches on.

Feeling blessed that my life as a patient has been quite limited to date, and praying it stays that way, knock on every known substance.
-ykh and what is that picture of? You couldn't just stick a thermometer up?


I like the idea of 'morsels of pity.' I wonder what emotions would taste like... The sorbet of succor? The lutefisk of loathing? The salmon of surprise?

Take care of yourself Clink!

Sarebear said...

Eeek! "This is NOT good, this is NOT good!" (If you name that movie the quote is from, you get to pick the duckie back up again . . .)

Get pampered by everyone you know, that's an order! I have a degree from *mumble mumble the school of mumble mumble PhDork mumble*

I sure wouldn't be eating a 10 yo can of soup, tho. "That ship has sailed." Bonus baby duckie if you guess THAT movie quote's movie.

Guess that'll keep your mind busy for all of two minutes, lol!

I hope you get better swiftly and completely!


NeoNurseChic said...

I'm uploading both my recitals plus some of the new songs to my idisk public folder. Thanks again for your help.... I still have a lot of reading to do, but I appreciate you sending that sample page! Very nice of you!! So anyway - if you want to listen to 13 songs from recital 1 and about 10 or 11 songs from recital 2 and then at least 3 of the new songs I've recorded, then go to my blog and click on the link that says "My Music" in the post entitled "Finally! (The muses have been hard at work!)" or...just click here. That should work and hopefully will keep you a bit busy! Unfortunately it doesn't allow me to put the songs in the order I want, so there is no differentiation between which recital is which and also movements are gonna be all out of order and pieces aren't going to go together - so that is annoying, but at least I'm getting to share it!

Hope you're feeling even a little bit better!

Carrie :)

Dr Dork said...

We docs make godawful patients.

Hope it clears up soon. Not plasma cell pneumonia, I hope...

Sarebear said...

Hey! A doc from the same school of *mumble mumble PhDork mumble*


Patient Anonymous said...

Hope you feel better soon. I'm actually off sick today and I hate it too. But not with pneumonia! Ick. I'm sorry you're dealing with that.

Being sick is awful, plain and simple.

Steve & Barb said...

I always heard that docs got worse care, not better. They don't get those nice explanations like you got, and the treating-doc tends to let the patient-doc drive the treatment plan bus more than is appropriate. If I go to an ED, I don't tend to play the "I'm a doc" card much. I want to be treated like a patient.

Sarebear said...

I hope you're doing better, and catching up on work, and not worse; hoping the catching up is why we haven't heard from you!

Sarebear said...

I am so glad you are better!