Saturday, August 19, 2006

Openness of Patients

It happened again yesterday.

"Gosh doc, you've put on a bunch of weight."

There is no other job where people feel free to say that kind of thing. I have learned to take it in stride, even when my stride is more and more brought down by the cruel force of gravity. Why do people feel they can openly comment on my weight? I think there are several reasons for it. First, they know I have the right to comment on their weight. I am one of the few people who can do it and get away with it. Actually, it is the only place I can do it. I can't comment on my wife's weight. I certainly can't comment on people's weight outside of the office..."well, Susan, it is good to have you over. Gosh, you have gotten way heavier!" Nah, it just wouldn't fly.

The second reason people feel they can comment on my weight is that they know I can take it. I doubt if I was a female doctor they would do it. I also doubt they would do it to a specialist they don't see too often. But when they have been coming to me for a while (for some, over a decade), they get to know me and know that this kind of thing does not bother me. Well, it doesn't bother me too much.

It actually bothers me a little. I am usually caught a little off guard when they say it, and come back with some clever remark like, "yes, I keep getting ambushed by cookies." or something like that. It is nice in a way, because I think they are doing it in kindness - trying to hold me to the same standard that I hold them. I have never felt that anyone meant bad when they said it.

I can't overlook the fact that when they say it, it usually is true. I do need to start eating better and exercising (I actually just got back from the YMCA). I also must point out that they tend to be much quicker to comment when I have lost weight.

Such is the life of a doctor. It has it's ups and downs, but I would not trade it for another job.