Meeting Your New Doctor Can Come With Some Baggage

the British flag, vintage-style, sits as backdrop to the words 'Keep Calm and Carry On", splayed across its main horizontal stripe.

Have an appointment to meet with your new doctor? Let’s hope he’s not having one of THESE days..

A Rundown

On a typical morning (and thankfully this is usually the case), my mood shines – I stroll into work, after having sipped an entire cup of coffee (for the benefits of coffee, click to read my story, Coffee: Friend or Foe), maybe nibbled on a Moroccan cookie or two (these have gotten me into trouble before- read about that in one of my my ‘funnies’ posts, titled Cookie Insomnia), and donned my white coat and stethoscope, greeting you with a smile.

Or it can be one of those other days.

I’m talking days where I cannot function.

I can’t explain why because there’s a plethora of reasons for anyone to feel grumpy. Each bad day is different in why it starts, when it starts, or how it plays out. But what I can tell you how I feel, inside my coat, behind that specific day’s forced grin.

Miserable.

Here’s the catch: it has nothing to do with you! That’s the terrible thing about it. Something in my day has set me off and you’re the one who’s bearing the brunt of it. And I know it’s not what you expect.

Because in a new relationship, the patient always expects his doctor at his all-time best, much like the movies, or TV.

Take Grey’s Anatomy.

They’re all handsome. Always having a great day. Always donning a smile.

And, if not, well, they’re still pleasant to be around, laughing heartily at patient banter, baring their pearly whites.. not an ounce of their bad day shows on their face.

Can I Please Be Grey’s Anatomy?

I want to be like the doctors on Grey’s Anatomy, but gosh darn it, I can’t!

Not on this particular day, when something crabby sets me off and I’m down in the dumps.

They said in medical school: always be kind. Always smile. Exchange pleasantries. Approach the day’s topic with open-ended questions. Steer exchange into a meaningful discussion with appropriate endpoint diagnoses and a plan. All while smiling.

But what about the days I simply can’t?

The day I have a migraine, or my throat burns so badly but I cannot excuse myself from coming in. How about the time I fight with my spouse and storm out our front door, fight unresolved? When my child gets in trouble at school and it’s weighing heavily on my mind? Or I simply eat bad food and it sits, waiting at the edge of my colon, wreaking havoc on the outlook of the morning’s jam-packed schedule?

We often have just one impression to make before a judgement gets passed by our patient at a new visit.

One single impression.

It’s just how things go. But on those particular days, most of us simply can’t leave our baggage at the door.

We try our hardest to pack light to work, maybe only bring in a carry-on. It’s a metaphor, of course, an emotional packing of sorts. But we’re human and sometimes we simply need that extra bag.

My hope is that our patients understand this, and give us second chances. We work hard and I think that we deserve it.

But don’t worry, by your next visit we’ll have emptied out our luggage and you’ll have your McDreamy back in no time.. and with that smile!

 

Photo of Dr. McDreamy of the TV show 'Gray's Anatomy'. He is showing donning a white lab coat, leaning up against a nursing station in the hospital.

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