Morning Sickness

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My daughter was up yesterday morning just as I was getting out of the shower. She burst into the bathroom as I was toweling off, tears streaming down her face.

“Mmmmoooommmmyyyyyy!” Sob. “I’m sick! Hold meeeeeeee!!!!” Another sob.

Once I fixed the naked thing, I had to hold her snotty, coughy, mucousy cuteness to my chest until she calmed down. By then I was running super LATE!

So, I was not my usual put together self when I arrived at clinic.

Make-up? Meh.

Hair? Hah, hah!

Clothes? They might have been nice but if you have ever tried to get yellow preschooler snot out of your silk blouse… It sticks like glue.

Jewelry? Didn’t realize that was missing until halfway to the office.

So, I saw patients all day like that.

But here is the thing: Even if patients say nothing, even if they are not even aware of it themselves, they are judging me.

That is not necessarily a bad thing but it certainly makes being a mommy physician difficult.

Here is an interesting article from JAMA last year, “Physician Attire in the Intensive Care Unit and Patient Family Perceptions of Physician Professional Characteristics”

When I had babies who liked to up-chuck on me, I carried scarves. I have a whole closet full of those things in any color you can imagine because in a pinch it could hide a ton of nasty curdled yucky spots.

The white coat helps some for really bad issues, like when your toddler hits your coffee hand on the way out the door. Your skirt can be turned around backwards under a long coat or jacket. Suit coats and jackets can be peeled off or put back on.

Some days, though, you just cannot win. Like yesterday.

So the next time your female doctor’s appearance looks a little frazzled just know she didn’t actually want to look that way. Ultimately, it was the kid’s fault!

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29 thoughts on “Morning Sickness

  1. LOL! My favorite is going out the door with a sock from the dryer stuck on my back and snot smeared across my shoulder. How did I ever manage to get a clean shirt fresh out of the dryer, dirty on my way out the door? You would think the sock would at least fall off it in the process of being used as a hankie, but no, I get to suffer both humiliations at the same time.

    The worst thing you can do as a doctor is be young. Seriously, even I do that. If they look about 12, I will hover over them as if they are. It’s a real problem because most people needing a doctor are going to perceive anybody under 65 as “too young.” 😉

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    • Which is interesting because there was actually a study that showed that doctors are best about 7 years after residency. Then it is downhill from there. I joke with my patients that when they start seeing grey, they need to run away. Fortunately my hairdresser is very good with color… 😉

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  2. I really like that scarf idea…I keep a change of clothes in my locker for days when I can’t get my sh*t together or spill coffee or totally miss that I have some clinical commitment. I have to wonder, though, do male physicians get judged as harshly as female ones on appearance, cause man some of my male colleagues are regularly sloppy messes.

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  3. Last year I was sick with something terrible for months! I had this cough that sounded like whooping cough and had long (felt like) moments of not being able to breathe. I am not one to go the dr/hosp for just anything, and when that young smiley face only explained it as that I had that “yucky stuff going around” – I just about decided to never see a dr again. Didn’t matter what she was wearing!

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    • I hope you DID find someone who got you fixed up! (I expect you did since you are still living.) It is a good lesson for young doctors, though… People do NOT generally seek them out for stupid stuff so don’t make them feel stupid! 🙂

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  4. Hmm…I don’t doubt the premise that patients come to some conclusions re physicians based on appearence and age. But the reverse is so phenomenally true (present docs excluded of course :), and covers such a wide scope of socio-cultural baggage, that it seems a bit premature to focus on our end at this juncture.
    (IMHO)

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  5. I have had similar experience but I noticed the stains in public. If we’re at a program, I would wish that it ends sooner.

    I also like to thank you for the support you have shown to my blog. Thanks and best wishes.

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