My Introduction to Modern Medicine.
Sometimes in life you know that you are lucky but your luck is going to run out some day. That’s how I felt about my primary care doctor. I was so lucky to have the same doctor for over 20 years. She was what everyone wants from a doctor: smart, thorough and compassionate. My doctor knew a lot about me because she took the time to talk to me and learn about my medical history and personal history. She was a ‘hands on” doctor who took my temperature and blood pressure herself and performed a complete physical examination – herself. She even gave shots herself. Maybe it was old school and not “efficient’ but the time she spent doing these activities was time spent talking to me, her patient, and learning about my health issues.
Sadly, for me and all of her other patients, she retired at the end of 2016.
I just had my first appointment with my new doctor. It was very different. It turns out that I made some mistakes as a patient.
In modern medicine, patients make mistakes.
My first mistake was being 5 minutes late. Apparently, that is a big NO-NO in modern medicine. I had gone to the wrong building and knew that I was late but when I walked into the very large waiting room (this is a big practice with a lot of doctors) there was no one there. Walking up to one of the many assistants at the front desk, I heard this question, “Are you the 3 o’clock?” My first inclination was to say “No, I am Sharon, the patient” but thought better of it. She informed me that they would need to see if the doctor would give permission to see me. I had to ask: “Because I am 5 minutes late?” Of course, the answer was “Yes.” There was no one in the waiting room, but I refrained from pointing that out…
In modern medicine, the doctor is not the first person you see.
Well, the doctor decided that she could see me so I was on my way – to the med tech. The med tech was very personable and took my height and weight and temperature and blood pressure. We had a pleasant conversation and she took me to the exam room.
My new doctor walked in, introduced herself and said: “We have 12 minutes. What would you like to discuss?” I was stunned. Perhaps I was being reprimanded for being late. My response was, “I’m a new patient and you are the doctor. What do you need to know?” Obviously, we were off to a bad start! It did not get better.
In modern medicine, the patient can make lots of mistakes.
I made an appointment for a physical, but my second mistake was assuming that I was there for a physical. No way that was going to happen in 12 minutes. I suggested that my former doctor did blood work once a year. So, my new doctor says, “What do you want to have done?” Are you kidding me?! As you know, I was a nurse and could have said “basic chemistries and a CBC” but she is the doctor. Since when is the patient supposed to order the blood work? I felt like I was in a Seinfeld episode, but it really wasn’t funny.
Then I realized that I had entered the world of “modern medicine.” I noticed that my new doctor was excellent at entering data into the computer, but not so good at making eye contact with me, the patient. Maybe she was just having a bad day.
I will get the blood work and go back for my follow up appointment.
I will be on time.
Maybe then things will improve.
I will let you know.