Thursday, December 29, 2016

When a Doctor Sees a Doctor, Part 2

Doctors enjoy chatting about diseases but not their own. We’re as frightened as you, and we want a doctor who sympathizes and makes it go away.

Some doctors don’t understand this. They assume that, being in the business, we don’t require any touchy-feely stuff and that it’s OK to talk shop.

Twenty years ago my dermatologist biopsied a bump near my ear. When he revealed it showed a basal cell carcinoma, he had me look through the office microscope at the biopsy slide, and I saw my cancer cells. Ik!....

Five years ago, my internist heard a heart murmur and sent me to a cardiologist. After determining that I had a damaged mitral valve, he led me into an adjacent room to show the ultrasound. Since I was a doctor, he took for granted that I wanted to know the technical details, but I absolutely did not want to see a film of my poor, diseased heart in action. As he happily pointed out the leaky valve I tried not to look.

We returned to his office where he extolled the skills of a cardiac surgeon at the nearby university hospital who had great success repairing heart valves. While it wasn’t urgent, he was certain I’d enjoy talking to him.

I found another cardiologist whom I like much better. I might need surgery in the future, he explained. He’ll let me know. I see him for an ultrasound every six months. Otherwise I try not to think about it.

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