I’m certain that there are a lot of people out there, be they health-care professionals or not, that often wish they could say it is as it is. Well, Reader’s Digest recently gave a group of doctor’s a chance to do just that.
If You Only Knew …
Reader’s Digest offered two dozen doctors a chance to tell it like it really is, and general practitioners, surgeons, shrinks, pediatricians, and other specialists took the challenge. Some wanted to be anonymous; some didn’t care. But all of them revealed funny, frightening, and downright shocking things that can help you be a better, smarter patient.
Here are my favorite of the bunch:
• I am utterly tired of being your mother. Every time I see you, I have to say the obligatory “You need to lose some weight.” But you swear you “don’t eat anything” or “the weight just doesn’t come off,” and the subject is dropped. Then you come in here complaining about your knees hurting, your back is killing you, your feet ache, and you can’t breathe when you walk up half a flight of stairs. So I’m supposed to hold your hand and talk you into backing away from that box of Twinkies. Boy, do I get tired of repeating the stuff most patients just don’t listen to.
—Cardiologist, Brooklyn, New York
• Thank you for bringing in a sample of your (stool, urine, etc.) from home. I’ll put it in my personal collection of things that really gross me out.
—Douglas Farrago, MD, editor, Placebo Journal
• I wish patients would take more responsibility for their own health and stop relying on me to bail them out of their own problems.
—ER physician, Colorado Springs, Colorado
• So let me get this straight: You want a referral to three specialists, an MRI, the medication you saw on TV, and an extra hour for this visit. Gotcha. Do you want fries with that?
—Douglas Farrago, MD
• I used to have my secretary page me after I had spent five minutes in the room with a difficult or overly chatty patient. Then I’d run out, saying, “Oh, I have an emergency.”
—Oncologist, Santa Cruz, California
• Your doctor generally knows more than a website. I have patients with whom I spend enormous amounts of time, explaining things and coming up with a treatment strategy. Then I get e-mails a few days later, saying they were looking at this website that says something completely different and wacky, and they want to do that. To which I want to say (but I don’t), “So why don’t you get the website to take over your care?”
—James Dillard, MD
• When a doctor tells you to lose 15 to 20 pounds, what he really means is you need to lose 50.
—Tamara Merritt, DO, family physician, Brewster, Washington