* * Anonymous Doc

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Second day, better than the first. I had my notes organized, I was ready to go, I was on fire. And then we got to the first patient's bedside. "Did you start her on a PCA pump yet?" the attending asked. Well, no, I didn't-- I didn't know I was supposed to. I'm supposed to do things on my own, before the attending gives the orders? No one told me that-- I'm not supposed to be actually making decisions, am I? If I'm the patient, I certainly don't want my second-day-as-a-doctor-ever intern deciding anything without talking to a real doctor first. "Uh, no, not yet. But we will." He rolled his eyes. Why am I getting an eye-roll? I'm trying my best.

Doctors suck. That's the confusing part of all of this. So many doctors are bad human beings. You would think anyone who would choose to be a doctor-- at least a doctor who has to deal with patients who probably aren't getting any better, at least most of them-- would have some compassion. That no one would go into this if they didn't have feelings. But, no, it doesn't make a difference. I guess it's only natural, but it seems like it doesn't take much time at all for some doctors to forget that for their patients, this stuff is scary and it's not routine at all. Having a terminal illness is not something a normal patient is going to be glib about. So they ask questions. And they cry. And they want help. It's only normal. Yet I've now heard pretty much every patient here mocked behind their backs. "She's sooooo needy!" Well, I'd be needy too if I just found out I'm going to die. These are people with comorbidities, with multiple problems all piled up, with no chance of ever having a normal life again. So excuse them if they're a little moody.

"I just wanted to ask a couple of questions," my frail 67-year-old said to the attending.

"We talked about all of this yesterday. I don't have time."

"My daughter wrote out this list of--"

"We talked about it yesterday. I can't explain it to every family member individually."

"I know you're busy, but--"

"That's right. I am. Have a good day."

The patient had so much more patience than I would have. I would have punched the doctor. I would have absolutely punched him. This woman is going to die. I can't even imagine how she's feeling. And he has no compassion, not even a drop. We leave the room and he says "she's a nut." No, she's not. She's scared. For her life. Answer her fucking questions.

I'm not a saint. But come on, these are human beings. At least fake it. At least fake that you care.

1 comment:

  1. Heartbreaking. Even if the attending had already explained it to another family member, the doc could at least be kind, maybe give a couple brief facts.
    ...If I was the patient, I definitely would have gone the punching route. (I know this entry is old, but I am working my way up from your first posts!)