Tuesday, March 01, 2011

When a doctor goes to the doctor

(or rather “when this PhD goes to see an MD”)

It’s always interesting to me that I might be one of those patients. When I say “might” I honestly mean “am”. And "those patients", well you know what I mean... Luckily for me my general physician is a very nice woman, whom I’ve met in my professional occupation too so she knows what I do/did for a living and my area of expertise. This might help a little when it comes to my behaviour in her office, or so I certainly hope anyway.

First time she saw me I had a swollen throat and hadn’t been able to eat for two days… I also had a fever that made her wonder how I drove there (probably shouldn’t have done that though but at the time I wasn't thinking too clearly, duh) and when I explained that I wasn’t sure it was a bacterial infection and therefore didn’t see the reason of going to the doctor she just laughed and called me stubborn. (Well, that’s not a news flash really.) Then she gave me a wonder shot (aka cocktail) that I would’ve never gotten back in home country (“just go home and wait it out”) and sent me to bed for a few days. I got well and could eat the day after the shot. Sometimes I love steroids.

Anyhow, we’ve ‘known’ each other for a few years now and she knows that I am not a fan of going to the doctor; not even for regular check-ups when nothing indicates wrongness, even if she is really nice. This last time I went though, made me cringe on how bad a patient I am, and that she really is very good with stubborn, self-diagnosed people who are aware that something’s off and that they probably should’ve gone in to say hi awhile back yet still avoid the whole thing playing ostrich…

I tried to avoid it by hashing out some minor thoughts and concerns to a friend of mine who happens to be an MD, and she’d given me some ideas and suggestions for alternative things to take, e.g. drug X might not get me as many side effects as the generic drug C I had tried for a bit. Ok, I remembered her suggestions when I was at the grocery store the other month and walked up to the pharmacy section to look for my drug X in the rows of drugs… no luck. Hm, I thought, "maybe it is like those other drugs that you can buy [without a prescription] over the counter but you have to ask the pharmacist about them since you can make meth of them?" Said and done. Me walking up to the counter, looking at the three sweet young women behind it.
Me: “Hi, I was wondering if you have Drug X?”
Pharmacist 1: Yes, we do.
Me: “ok, I’d like the smallest box of them then please”
Pharmacist 1 looks at P2 and 3, slightly odd look on her face.
Me thinking "why isn’t she just giving me the drug? Smallest dose can't hurt, right?"
P2: Well maam, do you have a prescription?
Me: What? Eh no, the doctor told me to try drug x since I feel very strange on drug c. [Somewhere here I should've realised that I was going in the wrong direction... and I didn’t feel comfortable telling that it wasn’t “my” doctor but a doctor – since I started to sense something was off with the whole idea.]
P2: You’ve gone to the doctor but she didn’t write you a prescription?
Me: ehh... No. She told me that maybe drug X would work better for me and that I should try that.
P3: You need a prescription for that.
Me: (thinking out loud about the conversation I had with my friend) But she didn’t tell me that…. [thinking about my friend and wondering why she would suggest a drug that she knows is a prescription drug…]

By this time, I noted that all three of them are looking at me like I am was trying to sell them a story that was very unbelievable. If I wasn’t me, I’d probably think that I was either a bit slow, or just plain desperate for the stuff. All of a sudden I realized that they thought I was trying to score this drug… and that it is indeed probably one of the common ones to abuse as a prescription drug. Enter slight panicky mode for this particular PhD.

Me: never mind, I’m sorry to bother. (quick exit and walked away..)

I know that they stared at me all the way to the check out with my groceries. And I know that it was partly because I stated blushing once I realized that I must have looked like someone trying to find their dope. Needless to say, I did tell my friend that next time she suggests treatments/drugs I would be happy if she’d let me know if it is a over the counter one or a prescription one so we can avoid me looking like a dope head. Duh.

So, I had to go to the real physician…

I started explaining what I would call “symptoms” and described some occurrences the last couple of months (it “should’ve solved itself”) and the more I told, the more I realized how silly I’ve been. Ended with a sheepish smile and nervous laugh while she looked and said “so, you think it is what?”. And after I mentioned what I thought she leaned forward and looked at me “I agree with your self-diagnose and have these options for you. Which do you think is better?”. Needless to say, I had already done some research, knew a few of the drawbacks of some of the things and mostly (being the “it will heal itself soon enough/sticking the head in the sand” kind of person that I am) knowing the side effects (even the very odd and few ones)….

So, I wasn’t thrilled with noting that my body said “side effect” the first few days of my treatment. I am however, bright enough to know that it might be me being over sensitive to my reactions and not really the drug.  Me? Hypochondriac? Not liking to take drugs? Nahhhh. Then again, I have a hard time forgetting her sweet smile and face when she said ”you know, sleep deprivation is a form of torture so it’s not uncommon to feel insane after a long period of sleeplessness”. Did I mention that I like her a lot?!


Anthea said...

She sounds like a doctor (an MD) who actually listens to what you have to say about your symptoms. I like the sound of her! Lucky you.

Katie Estes said...

I'm glad I'm not the only PhD with these lines of thinking 'it'll resolve itself, I might be one of THOSE patients', and pretty much everything else you said about yourself and your interaction the 'the other kind of doctor'.

chall said...

Anthea> yes, I quite like her. It's part of that "listening or at least seem like you listen"... you feel better when it seems like someone cares, right?

Worm Pilot> Good to know I'm not alone. I'm quite sure it's not the PhD that makes me that stubborn but it does help with "having somewhat of a professional discussion" rather than being the 'victim' or what I should call it. Come to think of it, that word might be part of my problem with going to the doctor ^^

Nina said...

Haha, good story! Hope you get well soon though ...
I'm pretty much like you I'm sure. Last time I had to see a doctor I carried around a stack of papers on my illness/symptoms. Unfortunately the doctor wasn't as understanding as yours (basically ignored me)