Maybe it’s just cause I’m in a shitty mood, but let’s talk about something universal: Trash Doctors. We’ve all met them. Especially those of us with advanced illnesses who require lots of doctors. They come in all forms: some have terrible bedside manner, some have arrogant personalities, some can’t perform basic medical tasks correctly. It’s nothing against doctors, every profession has it’s bad eggs. I’ve had grocery baggers who are faster than lightning and some who take a half hour to pack a bag with the eggs on the bottom. Doctors are no different. Some of them save our lives and look good doing it, some think a pap smear is something you put on toast.
I’ve been in and out of hospitals every week for over 3 years, and that excludes the times I went to the hospital before I had cancer. So I’ve met a doctor or two in my day. I could tell you some stories about some shitty doctors too. When I was 16 I broke my femur, and my doctor misread my xray and thought I had a dislocated knee so he spent 10 minutes yanking on my broken leg trying to pop it back into place. Didn’t feel good. Just recently I got an echocardiogram where the person doing it kept going “yikes” and murmuring “that isn’t good” but then sent me home saying I was probably fine. And before I was even diagnosed with cancer, I went to a dermatologist to look at the lump in my arm that was clearly a tumor and she sent me home saying it was nothing without even taking a biopsy. I had a stroke like 2 months later. So I know all about shitty doctors, and I’m here to teach you everything that I’ve learned over the years:
- Be respectful. I’ve certainly broken this rule a time or two, especially when hopped up on medication, but be nice to your doctors. Sometimes they make you do shit that’s awful, but they’re really just looking out for your well-being or following strict guidelines. Doctor’s are people too, and if you wouldn’t act like a dick to the person serving you coffee, then don’t be a dick to your doctor either. At the end of the day, medicine is a service industry and doctors have to deal with A LOT of asshole patients, so don’t be one of those. Treat them with respect and I’ll bet they’ll do the same to you.
- Be understanding. Doctors have a shitload of rules, regulations, guidelines, and all sorts of other nonsense they have to follow to align with government and hospital policy. If a doctor is trying to get you to do something you don’t want to, it may very well be because they’ll get in trouble if they don’t. Try to stay calm and hear them out. I had a doctor who took away my burrito that I was dying to eat cause I hadn’t eaten in 2 days because of my heart surgery and I was furious. Turns out, she took it away because I had to get anesthesia that night to get my port installed and if I had eaten that burrito they would have had to delay my chemo. She felt so bad she even bought me a new burrito the next day. So give them a chance, they probably mean well.
- Know your rights. This sort of goes in the opposite direction of the first two. Know that you’re driving the bus and they can’t do anything to you without your consent first. I had a doctor who spent 2 hour in my room trying to convince me to get a cardiac MRI. I refused until he finally relented and did blood tests instead. The blood tests came back clean, removing the need for the MRI. Turned out the doctor was writing a case study or some shit and just wanted to use me as a stat in his paper. He wound up dropping me as a patient cause I was such a persistent dick to him but I wound up being in the right in the end. So stand up for yourself. If a doctor is trying to make you do something, make sure you understand why first. I know in #2 I told you to be understanding and now I just told you to stand up for yourself, but it’s important to do both. Understand why something is happening before you react. If it makes sense then go with it, but if it seems sketchy then be skeptical.
- Give the newbies a break. Becoming a doctor takes a long time and involves a lot of training. Some day you probably will get some bright-eyed kid right out of med school who takes 3 tries to place an IV. Be nice and supportive about it. Without those days of taking 3 sticks, there wouldn’t be anyone capable of doing it in 1 stick. Same goes for nurses. They have to train too so don’t snap at them if they make a mistake. Make sure you know the difference between a shitty doctor and a new doctor, they should be treated differently.
- Treat them as you would want to be treated. Isn’t this the golden rule of the Bible or something? Do unto others? Well it’s the same for doctors. You shouldn’t want the reputation of being a shitty patient any more than they want the reputation of being a shitty doctor. When I worked in the service industry, I would go the extra mile for customers I liked, and I would fuck with the ones I didn’t. I’m sure doctors are the same way, so if you’re finding that you have a lot of shitty doctors, maybe you’re just a shitty patient. Or maybe you’re at a bad hospital. Who knows.
Doctors are people too. I know how stressful the hospital can be. A lot of bad stuff happens there. You get bad news, people stab you with stuff, it’s a tough place to be. Being a likable patient and dealing with the shitty doctors in a good manner can go a long way toward making the hospital a better place to be.