“Ma’am, I am calling about your test results. Do you have a few minutes to talk?” I could hear the kids, I knew each of them, talking and shouting in the background. She must be on her way home from picking up the kids at school.
“Sure! Go ahead.” She sounded happy.
Not for long…
I took a deep breath.
“You have an STD.” What a stupid, crappy thing to have to say to someone, particularly at the start of a brand new year.
“A what? That can’t be possible!”
One of the best things about being a family practice physician is getting to care for entire families and in fact, I had been seeing this family for several years: husband, wife, and all of their kids.
Sometimes knowing the whole family is a liability.
I knew when I saw the frothy vaginal discharge on her exam what it was going to be so when the test results (two separate tests, by the way) came back confirming, I was not surprised.
“Could it be something that was still there from college?”
“How did I get this?” Her voice was strained.
“Well, it is a sexually transmitted disease, so…”
Silence. Even the kids were quiet now. Hopefully I was not on speaker.
“I haven’t been with anyone else, you know.”
“I understand. I have sent in a prescription for you. And since we see your husband, I will send one in for him, too.”
“Ok.” She said in a sad, quiet voice and hung up.
The next day, invariably with these situations, I will get an angry call from the husband. This was no exception.
“Look, I did NOT cheat on my wife. So YOU tell ME how the hell SHE got an STD!”
“I don’t know, sir. All I can tell you is that your wife has an STD. I cannot tell you who gave it to whom or why, however you should know that I got a letter from the urologist you self-referred to last month for testosterone supplements stating he had treated you for a prostate infection. This particular STD can cause prostatitis.”
Silence. A long silence.
“Which pharmacy did you send it to?”