Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Even on my summer break...It's taking over my life.

The thing about medicine is that once you're in it, it's pretty hard to get away from it.

I started this blog over a year ago (and clearly forgot to celebrate its anniversary with fanfare of any sort), and evidently even at that tender naïve age I was aware of that fact. Enamored, actually, you could probably say. I knew that it would happen, and I was actually excited about living every moment enriched by my training in the medical sciences, making a difference in people's lives everywhere I went, breathing and living a life of medicine. I even used that phrase to name my blog.

Boy, was I delusional.

Okay, it's not that big a deal...yet. But it is happening. Here's a story to show how medicine has pretty much taken over my thoughts and day-to-day existence.

On the plane on the way to a much-appreciated vacation last week, I got up to use the restr (those little rooms far too small to be called 'restrooms') and, wouldn't you know it, I ended up getting trapped by the beverage cart. The stewardesses had apparently taken the lighting of the final "Restroom Occupied" light as their signal to block the aisle with their large metal goodie-carts-on-wheels. They hid their glee well behind their powdered faces, perfectly poofed hair, and polyester neckerchiefs, but I could tell they were pleased with themselves and their strategic timing.

This left me stranded in their little lair at the back of the airship. I thought about popping the emergency door to get back at them (those slides look like a blast), or raiding the "Buy-on-board" cabinets when they weren't looking and stuffing my pockets with tiny liquor bottles and crusty sandwiches, or even worse, tampering with the smoke detector, but was prevented by the presence of another passenger back there, so instead I decided to talk to him instead.

"Stranded back here as well?" I asked him.

"No, actually, I've actually got arthritis and am just kindof moving around a bit so I don't get too stiff."

I replied, "How long have you had arthritis?"

"Are you currently on any medication for your arthritis?"

"Are there any factors that make your arthritis worse or better?"

"Are you frightened in any way by your arthritis?"

"Does the pain wake you up at night?"

"On a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is the feeling of getting your eyeballs and fingernails ripped out by tiny monkeys and having scorpions invade and subsequently sting every orifice, how bad is the pain?"

And, remembering the latest research, I made sure not to tell him about my experiences with arthritis.

Actually, I didn't say any of those things. But in all seriousness, all of those questions did flood my mind, as if I was back in my OSCE again and had to think quick of something to ask him.

So, instead of carrying on a normal conversation, I was forced to wait for the storm of questions in my mind to quell, and in that time I only managed to blurt out something awkward like "Oh, that's good."

I then got to stand there uncomfortably with him while realizing that I apparently can't carry on a conversation without my med school training trying to take over.

Oh well, it's not like something like this won't happen again. In fact, it has happened to me before. And wait until I provide the list of foods I have trouble eating now, thanks to medical school.


Pseudo_Doctor said...

lol I have so had the same thoughts go through my head before....

Anonymous said...

That is so true. Not only do people automatically start giving out private health information to any doctor/medical student/nurse/nursing student they meet, even when they don't, you feel like asking, "Does your sleep apnea make you drowsy during the day?" "Have you seen anyone about your hyperthyroidism yet?" "I'm sorry to see you have rheumatoid arthritis." "What did you do to your leg to get an external fixation on it?" And the more experience you get, the worse it gets, because you recognize more. Have fun. :)

incidental findings said...

You see, all the interviewing I did was all this empathy stuff, and now I can chat with someone for hours. To prove how amazingly this works, I took two students into an H+P with me and had the patient talk for an hour straight before I asked a single HPI question.

Learn to chat with patients. It'll do wonders for you. And just to make it difficult, avoid the weather, sports, and current event. Amazing how fun medicine is when you remember that you're treating people.