Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Sensitivity training......

I've about had it with (mostly young) interns, fellows and residents... "doctors" in various degrees of their training.

Doctors "to be" aren't much different from the kid at Micky D's that wears the "have patience with me I'm a trainee" button, except that they don't wear a button.

You can be patient at the fast food counter when it takes the newbe forever to find the "no onion, light ketchup" option, you can be patient when you confuse the hell outta them when you hand them over different money then they've asked for, expecting to get different change than the register tells them is owed... you can be patient when you both smile and shrug shoulders as they stumble.

A night and day difference in a hospital setting.

A screwed up burger with extra onions and light mustard verses a screwed up treatment or a messed up fight for your life....

not weighable.

My dad's continued, very long, seemingly never-ending running streak of really shitty luck recently gave him a doctor in training that could barely manage to say "hello" in English...

couple that with my dad's one good hearing aid (low on batt-ries + old, poor quality equipment = he misses a lot)...

... add to that hot mess his being hopped up on treated with Morphine and you got yerself a little problem in the communication department.

When my dad told me what was said and I tattled on the trainee to his supervisor words weren't needed to convey to me that the trainee was in deep poo.

His supervisor's slack jaw, pop eye'd response said it all.

He then contested/corrected/backstroked/damage controlled every thing the trainee had said (or rather, tried to say).

Yesterday, my dad and I spent the better part of the morning in the emergency room.

He slept, I mostly listened to moans and cries of patients in surrounding rooms.

Separated by dingy, orange/green striped floor to ceiling curtains.

These emergency room slots were smaller than one of my bathrooms.

The chair I was sitting in hit the curtain of the room next to me, and my dad's bed was nearly as close to our neighbor, the patient on the other side.

When I tried not to listen, I would doodle heart shapes in the small notebook I carry to doodle small heart shapes in.

I had lots of pages filled.

In the room behind my chair was a mother and her daughter waiting for test results.

I knew both these things because that is what they told the hospital worker who stuck her head in to refill supplies.

While my dad slept and I scribbled heart shapes I heard some people enter the room next to ours.

A man's voice introduced himself as one of the doctor's on her case.

He also identified himself as an intern.

He told the mother that the source of her severe back pain appeared to be coming from some lesions on her spine.

"Any history of cancer?" Doc jr asked.

"Nope, none" answered the patient.

"I fell some time back" the old woman continued "when was that? she quizzed her memory...

"In December, yes, it was December" she determined.

"I think there was a little snow on the ground" she remarked.

"How long has your back been bothering you?" Doc jr asked.

She answered in an unsure way, again attempting to put time and incident together.

"When we see lesions like this" Doc jr said "they normally indicate cancer" he told the woman and her daughter sitting in the room next to me.

I stiffened in my seat and my pen stopped making heart shapes.

The old woman, panic rising in her voice asked the doctor what he meant.

"I have cancer?" she said, her voice cracking.

"Well" Doc jr said "we don't know that yet. We are going to put you through some tests and see if we can identify a source. The cancerous lesions are not the main cancer, in our experience, so there must be something else in your body, another source, a large mass, something like that" he went on to explain.

"Someone will be in to admit you to the hospital" he said, leaving the room.

I sat stiff in my seat as the mother and her daughter in the small room next to mine comforted each other.

I couldn't not hear their muffled cries.

Or hold back my own.

What in the hell is wrong with the training these new doctors are getting.

Why, I wonder couldn't that news be delivered when they were sure or knew more?

Maybe they wanted her to prepare?

Maybe Doc jr was practicing.


I hate hospitals, and heart shapes, and bad news, even when it's not mine.

Thank you for listening.



  1. My 85-year-old mother has one of those doctors - only he's not a trainee - he's almost ready to retire. It's either, "hmmm, this could be cancer. Come back in 6 months and we'll see." or "You're 85. What do you expect." If only he would retire! (Of course, she thinks he is wonderful!)

  2. "You're 85, what do you expect..." holy cow, I'm all about being real (of course, sugar coated, easy does it, real)

    Thanks for the comment.


  3. I'm very tired of doctors with a poor bedside manner :( how horrible for that poor woman! :( So very NOT appropriate!
    I am so sorry to hear that your poor Dad is still suffering :( this just isn't right or fair. I really hope something positive happens very soon!!!!!



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