What a Pickle 


A number of years ago a patient that I had been seeing for about five years decided to change to a different primary care physician. No warning. Just gone. Poof! I stumbled upon it when a refill request was sent to me and I found she was seeing another physician in the system at another clinic.

I tried to shrug it off but truthfully, it ate at me for days. What did I do to upset her? I had bent over backwards to meet her demands. I had spent tons of extra time trying to walk her through some challenging and scary times. 

What did I do wrong?

Then one day, a few months later, she called wanting me to review her chart and comment on the care she was receiving with the other physician, to tell her if they were doing the right thing, without coming in to discuss it with me or reestablishing with me as her physician. 

I told her I was not going to do something like that.

Her response was to cuss me out and call me a quack. 

After that, I was glad to be rid of her.

It wasn’t me that was the problem, after all.

Now, four years later, she is wanting to come in to reestablish with me. There she is on my schedule. I don’t want her there, though. I want her to just go away. I can live without the validation of having her come back.

I find it very hard to leave that hurt behind but I feel also like I need to see her to prove to myself that I can, that I am above all of that. 

Pride sure is an awful thing.


106 thoughts on “What a Pickle 

  1. These situations are difficult. It was through no fault of yours that she left. She may be really sick and need you. I find when people behave in an irrational manor there is usually some physical reason.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Perhaps there was a reason that wasn’t at all about you. You must blog about her again if you see her and let us know….the other side of the story. I rarely leave a doctor because of them. I changed my gyno a couple of times because of difficulty in getting an appointment or the long wait. I left a pc because of a nasty office staff and I regret not sending him a letter to let him know. You have made me conscious of how important it is to do that.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Maybe she moved and the other doctor’s office was closer? Of course, that wouldn’t explain why she later called you a quack – for that alone, I think I would refuse to see her. But then I’m not in the medical field, so what do I know?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I agree you have nothing to prove. And yes, it sounds as if the problem might be hers. But I guess even if you don’t do it for her, it boils down to what you can comfortably live with. If you’d be worried that you might have missed something important if you don’t see her, then do. It might be that, as you suggest, you see her and she just wants to tell you off, but at least you would have given her the benefit of the doubt.
    Whatever you decide to do, all the best.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That’s a tough one Victo. I guess all you can do is be the bigger person. In business we used to refuse to serve some customers if we thought they were too high maintenance or could not be satisfied. I doubt that is an option for you although you did say that she cussed you out and called you a quack. .As a manager I would give a customer one and only one chance to be abusive and then I would fire them as a customer. Here in Canada it is verbal abuse and is considered harassment and is illegal – as determined by the the one on the receiving end. Here it is required that the receiver tell the abuser that their behaviour is unacceptable and if it continues charges can be filed. Tha’s likely not helpful. Good luck.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My husband, as a clinical psychologist, runs into this all.the.time. I know there are professional constraints but on a personal level, if you let her go with a desire that she finds a better fit, then that seems kind and reasonable. The problem is, she likely doesn’t fit well with anyone…which is the problem.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Like some of your other commentators I have long ago given up trying to second guess client motives for unusual behavior. I have generally found that giving them the benefit of the doubt works. In other words, it wasn’t me it was some other issue, some other center of influence, some unforeseen circumstance that led them to do what they did. I know that once I understand what happened, where they were coming from, any bad feeling I may have will just disappear. There are exceptions of course, but they are few and far between.

    Liked by 3 people

    • And you have a point about it not being about me. Many times I can distance myself from that because as you say, when you understand it is easier. Sometimes the personal nature of an insult makes it so personal that it is hard to let it go.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. After years and years of teaching and students venting whatever crap they had going on at me, I stopped taking anything personally. I could start each new class with a general “I like humanity” perspective. Those who repeatedly displayed “inhumanity” to me or others in the class no longer fell into the category of those for whom I had general positive feelings. I didn’t have to. They were no longer even human. I was “above all that.”

    Liked by 3 people

  9. As a person who used to manage doctors’ offices, I feel compelled to tell you that if you let this patient back into your practice you will regret it. As Bogart supposedly said, “maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life…”

    Fool me once, etc…

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Victo, it is not pride, but Integrety and honor. It was questioned, then you were being used for the selfishness of a patient. I call that type someone that does not know better! They were never part of a system of learning good manners!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I admire you for even considering to take her back as a patient. Regardless of what your reason is for considering seeing this patient again…..kudos. Pride? Maybe. I’ve known doctors to discharge patients they’ve diagnosed with dementia, for being non-compliant. Patients who are not CAPABLE of being compliant. And refuse to see them again. Like another comment I saw though, I would have concerns about the patient calling you and cussing you out. There’s no call for that at all. That’s not something to even need to bring back to deal with.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Agree and been there is a similar fashion before…but being able to put the pride aside and in a sense “forgive” can create something pretty magical. It is worth it to give her another shot ~ your professionalism and confidence in doing so will be seen by many.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Some of my favorite patients have been those that have been “difficult”. It just takes tenacity and caring to win them over. You can often tell who those people are going to be, though. The way they interact is suspicious and contrary but not mean. This woman was mean. So we will see…


      • Very good point ~ meanness is tough to handle, especially if by all accounts they will never appreciate or understand. A battle that is impossible to win. Sometimes you do need to cut-the-cord ~ pun intended 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  13. That’s definitely a tough spot to be in. On the one hand, she may need you as her doctor; on the other hand you don’t need any patients (or others) in your life or practice that can turn on you and immaturely cuss you out because they can’t get what they want. Your other patients don’t need you to have such a volatile patient either.

    It says a lot about you that you are thinking so much about it and considering different aspects of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I don’t think this is about you. Maybe she wanted to go the other doctor because she was recommended by a friend, or it was nearer her work? I would try and not take it personally. Anyway, she sounds like an idiot!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Well that’s a chewy one for sure! Despite the gritted teeth you’ll have, at least it does prove that you are deemed the better doctor by the incredibly rude woman (no offence to the other person, it’s just a logical assumption, though I bet you’re loads better anyway *winks laughing*). Though her opinion may not be worth a great deal, add it to the resume in your head as a gold star.

    – sonmi upon the Cloud,

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Pingback: My Article Read (5-1-2015) | My Daily Musing

  17. Now just imagine what Blackadder would say…

    The “difficult” people you sometimes meet are sometimes the exact people that rotate the inner cog wheels of your thinking machine.

    “Why?” When their response is “why not?” or “because I can” all you can say is “indeed.”

    Liked by 1 person

  18. (I haven’t read the comments.)
    I’m not sure what you are being prideful about here. I think it is natural to have your feelings hurt when someone just leaves. Are you being prideful in letting her back to your practice after she not only left once but then cussed you out? And so letting her back in some how validates you being nice? Or better? I’m not being a smart-ass here. I truly don’t know what you are referring to as pride.

    And btw, not that you asked, but my vote is for you to decline her business. You are not obligated to treat everyone. Tigers rarely change their stripes. And I have found in these situations, with my own business, that EVERY single time I went against my gut feeling of “no, I don’t want to treat her”… I ended up having to learn the “listen to yourself” lesson again. Food for thought…

    Liked by 1 person

      • THAT couldn’t be all that easy to say, out loud, in front of folks. Kudos. So now that you’ve named the beast, why play into its paws? Taking care of yourself, your practice (your staff who have to deal with these people), etc. yada, those things would seem also to get some street cred for “nice doctor.” And, it isn’t like you have to rip her face off and pee on her to say a simple, “No.” You’ve got the power in this situation and “No” is a complete sentence.
        :::gives you some salt for you to take with this, misanthrope etc:::
        :::wonders if LL is going to get all preachy now that she has a job:::

        Liked by 1 person

  19. unfortunately sometimes when we get the answer we were looking for, it explains a lot but may not be what we expected to hear. why bother dealing with a person like that, when they can just repeat that behavior again in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I know nothing of Doctor’s lives but I do know sometimes we make a wrong move and it takes courage to go back and try to put that right, especially after we ballsed it up a second time. I think her perseverance to get back on your list shows what a good job you are doing and you should be proud.I love the honesty in here and really enjoy the insight into an unknown world so please accept my comment as intended. Xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Pride is that double edged sword. You pride yourself on your work, and that’s a good thing. But, I know what you mean… sometimes I wonder if I want people back in my life, or situations to be different because I want to prove that someone, somewhere was wrong…

    Liked by 1 person

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