Sunday, October 26, 2008

Lowered Expectations

Dear Doc,

We need to talk. We have known each other for a while now. And even though we are still together, I feel that our relationship is taking a turn for the worse. Your constant lateness to our meetings and unclear excuses are deteriorating my trust, your insensitive remarks make me wonder if you even care about me, and your not returning my calls and inattentiveness are just ... are you seeing someone else? Why am I even asking? I KNOW you are seeing someone else; I have seen them in the waiting room, and yes, I know there's more than one. We never discussed being exclusive; heck, I don't even want us to be exclusive. So yeah, keep seeing other people, but when you are with me, could you please give me your at least half full and undivided? Please excuse this emotional detour, I realize that I must stay focused and away from hysterics and accusations.

I know you don't like talking about our relationship, but I really want us to stay together, if not for love and loyalty, then at least for mutual benefit and convenience. It’s time for you to realize that I do have needs, and if they are constantly not met, one day I might just walk out for good.

So to be fair to you and out of respect for the good times we shared, I have compiled the list of my expectations, the do's and the don’ts that might seem trivial to you, but are important to me. Before you complain that the list is too long or I am too demanding, let me tell you that like in any other relationship, my expectations have been significantly lowered since the time I picked up the phone to arrange our first meeting because a mutual acquaintance thought we might be right for each other... You probably don't even remember that first meeting; heck, I would be surprised if you remembered my name. How low have I sunk ... but I digress. Let's examine the document at hand, shall we? By the way, feel free to share this list with your friends; after all, there's a good chance I will start seeing them one day...

1. I don't expect you to gently hold my hand and whisper in soothing voice that my sneezing will not cause permanent brain damage and that awful pimple on my forehead will not leave a gaping hole. However, if I suffer from excessive morning sickness severe enough to medicate me for months, I do expect you to address the short and long term effects on my and my baby's health. (Why do you always wait for me to bring stuff up? This baby is your responsibility too, you know… )

2. I don't expect you to cry with me over blood spilled during routine testing, but I do think that if an ER consult shows me more empathy than you, something is amiss in our relationship. (Do you think he was trying to pick me up?)

3. I don't expect flowers upon my arrival at your office, but I do expect, with some rare exceptions, to be seen within half hour of our scheduled appointment. (I am sure all those other hussies in the waiting room agree. Just ask them...)

4. At this point of our relationship I do not expect a leisurely afternoon lunch or candle lit dinner, but if you are billing my insurance for a 15 minute quickie visit, I fully expect you to spend at least ten of those minutes with me (waiting time NOT included). I do not expect you to rush me through the examination or Q&A part of our visit. I do not expect you to rush me at all. Maybe your other patients don't mind this, but I am just not that kind of girl.

5. I don't expect to be treated with contempt simply because I am not familiar with some medical lingo (or for any other reason, really). I do expect the questions and answers to be clear to a person without intimate knowledge of medicine. And I expect them to be addressed verbatim, not by giving me out a badly photocopied handout.

6. I don't expect you to have genuine interest in me or my medical history, but I do expect you to fake it. Even a halfhearted attempt would do.

7. Like I've mentioned before, I don't expect to be your one and only, but I don't expect you to forget about me while I am in the emergency room either. It is simply humiliating to shoo away residents for hours telling them that this patient is taken and you will be here any minute. (I know they snickered behind my back telling each other jokes about my imaginary private practitioner.) However, if it does happen again, I expect an apology. Blaming ER nurses is just not cool. Or professional.

8. I don't expect you to love night shifts, but I also don't expect you to share that with me. I do expect you to remember that I like being in the hospital in the middle of the night just as much as you. So next time, let’s just make the best of it, okay?

9. I don't expect you to have all the answers and quick fixes. But I do expect you to share the answers that you do have with me. Don't let me make important discoveries, such as a likely hearing loss that you knew about, from Be a man and say it to my face.

10. I don't expect you to have G-d complex, but I do expect you to remember that I am human, not just a medical case. I have family, friends, job and life outside of your office. So don't just give me my diagnosis and send me home. Talk to me about lifestyle changes, coping techniques and preventive measures. Talk to me! Don’t just stare in my chart when I am trying to have a conversation!

Sincerely and still yours though not sure for how long, after all we ARE seeing other people ,

Subjugated Patient.

P.S. While rereading this and reliving all the pain, humiliation and contempt in our relationship, I am beginning to understand why some people just give up on traditional doctors and turn to alternative medicine. These traditional doctor-patient relationships are so hard to maintain, one begins to wonder if going over to the other side is worth investigating.


  1. Brilliant! (unfortunately sad, but true also)

  2. Amazing! You speak for patients everywhere!

  3. Sounds to me like you should be looking for a new Dr
    Did I mention I love mine?
    She's everything your Dr doesn't seem to be (judging from your post).
    Call me for her #.


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