Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I've really tried

Dear Patient I Don't Like,

I don't like you. And believe me, it hurts. Because I don't like not liking people. It makes me feel petty and ugly. I've been trying to find some redeeming quality about you so that I can say, "Well, she's always late and demanding and complains about her bill and conducts business calls while she's unwinding and leaves her used tissues on the floor and eats her lunch in the exam room so that it ends up smelling like old bananas and tuna and always comes in with greasy hair so when I have to stabilize her head my hands feel like I've been holding a ball of Crisco, but at least she..." except that I'm struggling to fill in the blank. The only thing I can think of is that your credit card clears some of the time. I don't know you personally so all I see is the side you're showing in the office, which is not pretty. And I'm not the only one who has picked up on this. The Doc and Lisa don't like you either. Even the other patients who are in the office at the same time as you have noticed and commented on how you're just so unlikable.

Now that that is off my chest I want to make myself clear here: I'm not trying to do you any harm. I know that you are frequently in positions where I could make you uncomfortable. I could pull on your ears too hard or not stabilize your head as well when the Doc is moving your skull around. I could turn the muscle stimulator up too high or put the head rest too low. But I'm not going to do these things because I'm very aware of how much I want to. And it disturbs me that I even think about doing those things. That would make me a monster, right? So I go out of my way to be gentle when I'm working on you.

There may, of course, be times when I will not move as quickly as I would with other patients to turn off your timer when it's beeping because I'm 80 years old and tired. Or I will grab the funky smelling eye cover when you ask for one because I don't have time to look for the nicer smelling one. And there may be a time when, after you have made me stand in the room, holding the blanket while you fiddle with your shoes and your gown and put extra socks on and finish your phone call and take yet another sip of water and then finally lay down only to remember that you needed to apply lip balm, I may decide to spend an extra twenty seconds or so scrubbing your face with the alcohol wipes you don't really care for, which then causes you to say you hope I didn't take it personally that you yelled at me when I told you we would have to cancel your appointment because you were 20 minutes late for the third time.

I don't take things personally. My last job mainly involved being yelled at by parents whose kids brought knives to school. I've learned to laugh it off. So when I was scrubbing your face today it wasn't to take out all of my pent-up aggression towards you or to teach you a lesson that maybe you should be more considerate towards people. I was just making sure your face was really, really, really, really, really, really, really clean.



Stephanie said...

You are a superstar for putting up with this. If nobody likes her, can you fire her as a patient? It might be tough - but it's not like her dirty tissues attract business.

Rach said...

Wow. That is horrible. And disgusting. I hope she doesn't come in more than once a week, because as long as she's already come in for the week, you can take comfort in the fact that you won't have to see her again for a week. But if it's a daily thing, there's just no hope. And way to take the high ground, Rachel.

Erin said...

I work at a doctor's office and I laughed hysterically at this! There are several patients I would like to forward this letter to...

Thanks for making my day!

Mr. Hall said...

Awesome! Can I get her number? I have a fetish for "gray-garden" type ladies. . . j/k