Judgement Day

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A commenter on my last post, Claire Marie O’Brian, pointed out that doctors make judgements, too.

She is absolutely right. I am guilty. I raise my hand and hang my head in shame.

We all do it, in fact.

For instance, have you sat across the table from a dermatologist in a brightly lit restaurant? Look, you are my friend but I know your are thinking about how much Botox I need…

So, just as patients are judging me, I am judging them. I have only a few precious minutes to figure out how best to reach them, how to gain their trust.

Should I laugh more? Change my vocabulary? Slow down my speech? Should I talk about your hoo-hah or your vagina?

I am trying to figure out if they are lying to me about risky behaviors. Or omitting things like erectile dysfunction or incontenance because they are embarrassed.

Are they drug seeking?

Doctors aren’t the only ones, though. We are all of us, every human being on this earth, making judgements about other people based on their appearances, even if we think we are not. I am fairly certain that there is no way to turn that off completely.

The key, however, is that I must always remain open to the possibility that I might be wrong.

Often I am.

Patients have taught me this time and time again. People that I absolutely hated at their first visit have become some of my favorite patients. Staff members that I thought would never work out have turned out to be some of my best employees.

This, this is the beauty of humanity! Sometimes it just takes time and patience to have it show through.

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47 thoughts on “Judgement Day

  1. Sometimes, especially in work situations, a co-worker fills in one of your weaker areas but it doesn’t necessarily mean you will be best friends. I had a woman work for me wh0 was so detail oriented I couldn’t stand to do something with her but if I needed that kind of work done, I’d turn to her. However, she couldn’t make decisions because of “analysis paralysis” so that’s where I came in. We’ll never be besties because we would kill each other but we both have a healthy respect for the other. As for me, I like my doctors to have a sense of humor when they are treating me. My oncologist took me through some very dark days with his humor. I could ask him anything and he would answer it frankly.

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    • There are as many different personalities of physicians as there are patients which is good because we cannot be everything to everyone. (I particularly love a funny oncologist, though! We need more of those!)

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      • Indeed! He was also my friend’s doctor too. She died of breast cancer a couple of years after I started going to him. I expect he loses patients more than most doctors but he was able to manage his sadness. In contrast my radiologist who was said to enormously skilled, had no social conversational ability at all. I never felt good after a visit with him.

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  2. It’s very hard not to judge…..or maybe it’s just hard for me? I try really hard not to but it is a constant struggle. I think that you might want to rethink the hoo- hah although it made me laugh out loud. πŸ™‚ I am sure that my retired Ob-Gyn thinks that I am a crazy person….I saw her in Barnes and Noble once and said “I don’t think that I have ever seen you with my clothes on” As soon as I uttered the words, I wanted to crawl away. Why did I say that? I am sure that she will pretend to not see me if I ever run into her again. I can’t fault her I would judge me too.

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  3. What a really good and honest post. It’s human nature to judge and if you are say you don’t, then you are lying. I have proved many doctors wrong, and the only two that I have won respect from, are my GP and my Vet. I’ve been judged by doctors and put down so badly by them, all because I insist our bodies can heal IF we give them the proper tools. Many surgeons have told me I must have a titanium cage in my back (for example) and I end up walking right out. They truly become furious with me, warning me I will end up in a wheelchair. That is my choice not theirs. No, I am not in a wheelchair, no my back is not healed in the way I would like it, but darn it, I am working on just that. And the other one, our Vet, saw something she and others have never seen. We saved one of our cats from having his leg amputated by combining Homeopathy with allopathic medicine. And I worked around the clock doing treatments that encouraged circulation and decrease infection.

    I’m so happy that you learn from your patients, that you are open to do so. This gives ME hope that medicine will finally acknowledge that there is so much more to healing then pills and the knife. Don’t stop being you. Medicine needs you desperately. (((HUGS))) Amy

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  4. My brother was denied a job offer from a large law firm because he spelled “judgment” with an e after the g (so “judgement”) in a long memorandum to a partner of the firm. Because of that small error, he was judged and denied the job.

    I’ve long struggled with judging overweight people (which I commented about on a previous post of yours about weight) and now that I am having such a hard time losing fifteen pounds post-having-two-babies-in-two-years, I completely understand how hard it is to lose weight. NO MORE JUDGING from me! (Btw, you gave me a small dose of encouragement in your reply to my comment on that post, and I promptly joined a gym and have done an exercise class everyday since joining. So thank you!)

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  5. If you’re trying to understand a patient so as to help him or her, I’m not sure that is really “judging” the person. That sounds more like empathizing to me, but then I’m just an ignorant non-professional. Either way, it sounds like you do your utmost to care for your patients.
    PS: Good luck with the outbreaks, if they come your way.

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  6. My goal, and I fail miserably sometimes, is to judge with great mercy. Really, life is hard and I don’t want to make life harder for anyone… and I don’t want anyone to make life harder for me πŸ™‚ I can be firm about the content of a subject and/or what I see as the truth. I never want to back down into a pile of confusion and brain mush over topics that are important to me. But I need to hold the people involved gently, with mercy, because that’s what I hope for myself and my loved ones.

    Terrific post as always. You spoil your readers πŸ™‚

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  7. Have you read How Doctors Think? The very willingness to consider the potential of being wrong is a benefit to your patients!

    Thinking back on HDT, I find it wild still how much healing hinges upon how a doctor perceives her patients outside the ailment …

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    • I have not read this book but now I am intrigued! I can tell you from personal experience that patients receive better care if they can connect with their physician on some level. I try to find something to like in everyone. If I cannot find something I know I will have a hard time fighting for them!

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  8. I am ALWAYS terrified all doctors are going to think I’m drug-seeking, which I never am, except that one time I explicitly told them I was withdrawing from heroin and THEY GAVE ME PAIN PILLS. That never made sense to me. But anyway, it’s a serious fear of mine.

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    • The pain pills were probably an opiate and maybe were intended to keep you from withdrawals? As for drug seeking behavior… That is the hardest one because we have all been burned by someone. It is impossible to see into someone’s heart and know their true intentions so we have to rely on external cues. I am certain I have gotten it right sometimes and gotten it completely wrong with others. My best advice is don’t let your fear make you seem suspicious or nervous. πŸ™‚

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      • That’s the hard part though, isn’t it? Haha

        And yeah, it was meant to keep me from withdrawing but it still didn’t make sense to me. Give me drugs because I tell you I’m on drugs? Was it just because I was honest? If I were someone who were lying and seeking drugs (and had someone noticed) I wouldn’t have been given any.

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      • Yep. Most assuredly. There is a concept among healthcare “professionals” called punitive medicine. Basically, those in power can make you suffer for your “perceived” sins. They get to sit in judgement and mete out punishment. Being honest and upfront and penitent earns you points. You did the right thing and you were rewarded.

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      • Ah, well that makes more sense. I did tell them I just needed to get through the weekend before I could get on suboxone, and I DID get on suboxone that monday. So, honesty pays=]

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  9. Judgement is a vital part of our survival. The ability to judge can be helpful in maintaining our personal safety, give us an edge in the business world and ease our interpersonal relationship with others. Yes, it has a negative side too and needs to be used with a heavy dosage discretion.

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  10. I think it is so difficult these days because the doctor has 15 minutes to spend with you and go over everything. I recently met my new MD. I had my original MD for about 20 years and in the past 3 years I have had the last 2 doctors leave to move to a different position or less demanding one. When I met my new MD I felt I had to talk so fast and later thought I left out some things. I know the new computerized records do not have everything recorded. It is very difficult to establish a relationship with your MD nowadays. I felt that she probably thought I was a little crazy.

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