Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Have a Beer, Doc.

Doctors who drink beer are awesome.

And yes, that actually does make sense for a blog entry about good and bad doctors. Let me explain by giving you two (slightly paraphrased) quotations, taken completely out of context, from two different neurologists I've seen.

Doc #1: "Your pain is a top priority for me and my staff..."

Doc #2: "...I understand that your head hurts; but at the end of the day, I go home and drink a beer..."

I'll bet you think that Doc #2 was horrible, and that you're still really confused as to why I think that a beer drinker is a good doctor. Let me explain.

At the time Doc #2 said that, I was in the throws of a horrendous marathon migraine, and was going through all kinds of hurt trying to get the pain to a level where I could function. During the 5-10 minutes I was in the waiting room waiting for my appointment, I ended up basically curled up in the fetal position and sobbing because the door behind me that kept opening wasn't lubricated well and it had a small high-pitched squeak to it. It was horribly painful, and I can still remember wanting to just curl up and disappear because of the pain. I was saved from the squeaky door when Doc #2 ushered me and my mother into the examining room.

There, he told me that he was seeing a lot of "pain-like behavior," indicating to my curled over posture, dark glasses, and the fact that I was rocking back and forth, among other things that I'm sure I was doing but don't remember.

Doc #2 explained to me that I *had* to stop wearing dark glasses inside, sit up straight, and generally act like I wasn't in pain. I tried to explain to him that I was doing the best that I possibly could, and that he just didn't get it.

That's when he said his bit about drinking beer.

At the time, I was flabbergasted and hurt and annoyed. I was sure he didn't get it.

About a year later, I heard Doc #1 say his line. I followed Doc #1 blindly for 5 weeks in the hospital, and then later that year, for another 2 week, trying hard to find a break for my migraines before he said something else: "You're a failure...",  and forbade any of his staff from touching me with a 10 foot pole,  much less treating me.

Again, I was flabbergasted. And hurt.

Then, about a year later, I realized Doc #2 was much better than Doc #1.
He had detached himself from my suffering, and so was, actually, able to treat me better because he didn't have a personal interest in it other than his professional interest. Doc #1 got so involved in every step of my treatment that, when he couldn't "fix" me, it frustrated him tremendously. Doc #2 still gets frustrated when things don't work out the way he had hoped or planned, but he doesn't take it personally the way that Doc #1 did. 

And so I have come to the conclusion that doctors who are, at the end of the day, able to leave their patients at work and go home and drink a beer end up being better doctors. 

Quantum in me fuit



  1. I think you're completely right. Doctors who blame a patient despite the patient's adherence to all instructions have a God complex, which is rarely a useful trait.


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