Thursday, February 08, 2007


It boggles my mind when a patient, who clearly came to the hospital of their own free will seeking treatment for an illness, makes no effort to communicate with me. Or shows any interest in trying to get me to understand their disease process so that I can help them. What's more amazing are the patients that get aggravated because I happen to show up to talk to them and interrupt their watching of The Price is Right or some Judge Judy show equivalent on TV.

Recently I had Patient B, a woman that I just simply couldn't figure out.

Me: So, Mrs. B, how long have you had that lump?

Patient B: I told you I've been having it.

Me: Yes, I know. But you never said exactly how long it's been there.

Patient B: A while.

Me: Well, what's "a while"? Are we talking about months, weeks, days?

Patient B: [sounding aggravated] Man! I dunno! A while. Shit.

Me: Well, the reason I'm asking is because how fast it grows can determine what more I -

Patient B: [interrupting] So you gonna take it out or what?

I then spend the next several minutes trying to explain what that lump in her back may be, and what I plan to do to surgically remove it, when I realize that she's asleep. At first I thought she had simply closed her eyes to visualize how the surgery was going to go, but the soft snoring was a dead giveaway.

I shake her gently to wake her up.

Me: Wake up Mrs. B, this is important.

Patient B: Well, shit, it got boring.

I wasn't quite sure how to respond to that. In fact, I took a little offense. So I decided that I was simply going to stare at her for a bit and see what happens.


Patient: You gonna fix me or what?

Me: I need you to hear everything and understand what we're doing. I can't have you falling asleep. This is important. It's your life we're talking about here.

Patient B: Look, if I falls asleep, I falls asleep.

Ah, yes. How can one argue with that logic?
Amazing how little interest some people have regarding their own well being.