Apparently it’s two. The number of curse words I can unleash before you’ll ask me to leave your office.
Let’s back up 20 minutes or so. Maybe even 20 weeks. Several misdiagnoses, two prescriptions for a better outlook on life, an abnormal EKG, MRI, and an echocardiogram later and I wasn’t even close to cursing. I just wanted to know a little more information about each of the reports, including why these tests weren’t done until we were seen by a doctor at urgent care. “So what does this mean?” I ask, pointing to the report we so conveniently acquired just moments before being seated in your office.
“Oh,” you reply, “I didn’t mention that in my report because I didn’t want to cause anxiety.”
I’m sorry? Did I hear you correctly? You withheld a piece–albeit a benign piece–of a medical record because you didn’t want to worry me?
“Let me give you another example,” you say. “When patients come in for a chest x-ray, often times little granulomas will appear on the films. Now, they don’t mean anything, they are usually just scar tissue left over from a case of bronchitis or something. It’s really nothing to worry about, and so I don’t tell my patients.”
Wait. Do you mean to tell me that you think so little of your patients that you do not believe they can understand the difference between a lung cancer diagnosis and some scar tissue?
Let me tell you something. I have seen a lot in my life. I have said good-bye to my dad who was treated for pneumonia for weeks before the diagnosis of cancer came back as his death sentence. I have wasted hours having my daughter tested and retested for every allergy you can think of, not to mention asthma because MOST kids come in with that. I have admitted her to Children’s Hospital at the tender age of three for what turned out to be a chronic sinus infection, one that could have been treated eight months prior with a second round of antibiotics. I have taken my husband to the emergency room twice. Once for a staph infection that they were treating with muscle relaxers and once for a brain tumor that they thought was headaches that could be treated with antibiotics.
So pardon me if I don’t trust you. Excuse me if I trust my gut instincts more than the medical license hanging in your office. They’ve never steered me wrong. But you have. And obviously we are not the only ones who you have tried your technique of misdirection on. Clearly you wear this as some sort of a badge of honor.
But I don’t buy it. And I won’t let you tell me anymore which tests fit your predetermined theory about why we came in today. Which get the benefit of your vast knowledge of statistics and which get blown off because they don’t make practicing medicine particularly easy. Or is it that they don’t make practicing medicine particularity profitable? Either way, you are–at best–a doctor of convenience. Worst case scenario, you have led many more patients down the rabbit hole toward pills they don’t need and a life they don’t want. But I imagine the last thing you thought when you woke up today was that you would learn a valuable lesson yourself.
Two. It’s the magic number.