Jul 7, 2007

Are you ready to use props?

When you are very fresh in a yoga class, you are usually told that you can use blocks and straps to help you through the poses. Unfortunately, when really new to it, there's no way you could do that without help: you try so hard to do some of the stuff, that you can't even breathe and much less scoot around for your block. If you go out of the pose, you feel that you would never go back in again. As you gain more experience and strength, you are able to breathe, move easier and figure where you need some help, and get your blocks and straps to help.

By reading medblogs, I found out that the new year just started for medical interns and residents and likely they are in completely new and scary roles and can't hardly manage to go through the day. Therefore I completely understand the poor resident that I am going to trash in the rest of this post.

OK, here's the story:

I'm going for my appointment to find out the results of the colonoscopy. I was very happy to finally get to talk to a gastroenterologist so I could put into perspective all the various complaints that I had during my life.

I get to do the vital signs part quickly and I am planted in an exam room. I wait there until about 1 hour after my appointment was scheduled. A resident and a medical student eventually come in. The resident states his name and starts asking me about my symptoms. Asks me to sit on the table and does an exam. I politely and slightly joking ask him what the results of the colonoscopy are. He pompously tells me that the doctor is going to talk to me about my results and the treatment and starts writing in the chart. I am amused and amazed at how little interest he has in me as a person. For this guy, I am just a set of interesting bowels... if even interesting (maybe GI is not his desired specialty and he just wants this over with).

The med student figured the awkwardness of the situation. She introduces herself. She asks me what other symptoms I had. I say a few things and then get frustrated with the resident's incapacity to treat me as a person. I stop talking. The med student asks me if this was my first colonoscopy. I answer yes. (what a great prop she handed the resident - first colonoscopy... she must have questions, right) The resident keeps ignoring us both. I am a bit frustrated, but things are still OK as I know that I will eventually see the doctor.

After another 15 minutes, the doctor and the rest of the guys come in. The doctor is quite young, but he looked bright and cute when he did the colonoscopy. He's telling me that I indeed have ulcerative colitis, and explains the treatment. I ask how long will the treatment take: he says he has no idea, it's a wait and see. He hurries toward the door. As all three of them almost head out, the med student asks if I had any questions. My frustration bursts out, and the doctor figures that something is wrong with this picture. He sends the resident and med student away and insists that I ask my questions. I get to ask my questions and understand a bit more about my condition. I am relieved and happy. I stopped being a set of bowels.

I am told that most patients are very happy with this kind of treatment.. as long as they have their prescription and their pain can go away. When I complain about the delay, I get apologies and I am told that's because he takes time with his patients. I had to laugh out loud at this one. Come on guys, do you still expect us to believe that? It's just bad management, not all that wonderful quality time that you give to your patients.

Many thanks to the med student that saved the day and I hope the poor resident will be able to get the props soon as he gets used to his new role. As for the young doctor, what are we turning these guys into? All in all, I think it was a learning experience for all of us.

My anxiety: I got very frustrated and I had my moment of emotional immaturity: I insisted that I leave upset and that I don't want to talk. Fortunately, I got over it and after taking a few breaths, I could concentrate on my questions. The whole experience was so emotionally intense for me that I cried as I got into the car, but I was OK with this and the whole event. I could have been more mature, but I don't feel that I needed to. I am happy with myself. I still have social anxiety, but I am not viewing it as a disaster, just living with it. I guess I got to the point where I can use props if I need to :)


Pseudo_Doctor said...

A great post to read especially being a bottom of the rung medical student. Always great to learn about how you can improve patient doctor relationships....

Anonymous said...

Hi Ileana, Excellent post. I'm glad you stood up for yourself and got your questions answered. I like the way you tied in the blocks analogy and carried it through to the end.

- Dean