"We found something on your pancreas. We need to take further tests."
"What is it?"
"We don't know. That's why we need to do more tests."
"No, I mean my pancreas. What is that?"
"It's an organ in your body. It produces insulin and other things your body needs."
"Like the liver?"
"It's different from the liver, but, sure, it's an organ, and so is the liver."
"I had a problem with my gall bladder a few years ago. Is this the same thing?"
"No, that's a different organ. We're talking about the pancreas today."
"Do I really need it?"
"The pancreas? Yeah, it's important."
"But my heart is fine."
"Well, that's the important one."
"No, the pancreas is important. We need to run some more tests to see what's going on."
"As long as it's not my heart."
We need some sort of basic medical education class taught in grade school. It's crazy, we make people learn math and foreign languages, but people can finish school without knowing what's going on in their body, at even the most basic level. Yes, there's high school biology, but that's not really about the human body and how to take care of it and what's important to know. There's health ed, but that's very limited. I don't know, so many of my patients know less than nothing-- they don't know what cholesterol is and what foods have it, they don't know they have two lungs, two kidneys, one heart, one liver.
Here I was, thinking I would have to calm this patient down because we think she might have pancreatic cancer. Instead, I felt like shaking her and telling her, hey, you should be worried. This might be serious. But she's like, oh, if it's not my heart, I'm fine. No, you're not! The heart is only one organ! You have others! They're important! Argh.