My only resolution (which isn’t really of the new year, but is more of a constant thing) is to improve myself. Physically, mentally, relationally, experientially, spiritually.
So last week I started family medicine. I am only 7 days into my rotation and already have more stories than I can type in one post!
The practice I’m in has 4-5 different docs that the med students follow for 4 days at a time- some MD, some DO (woo hoo!), and one PA. The doc I was with last week was great. He is hilarious and his daughters are successful runners so we were able to connect over our shared hobbies. The PA I am with this week is also awesome. We’ve bonded over our love of Adam Levine and our relationship with the LGBT community (one of my besties from 4th grade is in that community… and I have a ton of other close friends who are either out of the closet publically or out to just me… I must have an air of acceptance around me because my hubby jokes that I collect them!).
So speaking of the LGBT community, I got to see my first transgender patient! I was (ignorantly) expecting a Sophia-type from Orange is the New Black… and instead, I got a normal male, with obesity, diabetes, and heart issues. My preconceived and admittedly glamorous view of transgender individuals was shattered. I had the realization that assumptions of how a person will be or should be, even if they are positive, can still be damaging and unwelcome judgments. He was just a normal guy needing normal medical care. Nothing out of the ordinary like I had (again, ignorantly) built it up to be.
The next day, I had a husband and wife pair come in for coughing and upper respiratory symptoms… and when I asked if they took their prescription medication regularly, he said they had forgotten to one more because they got busy. I shrugged it off and stated, “yeah, that’s easy to do, especially in the morning with so much to do! I get distracted too!.” The husband’s reply? “No. Not distracted. We GOT BUSY. Together. So we forgot.” As in sex. As in, “yes I’m the med student taking your history but that wasn’t relevant at all so I didn’t need to know that much during this encounter for your coughing symptoms.”
Later that week, I had the opportunity to do a sports physical to clear a 22 year old for college sports. I am 24, so this was someone basically my age. I walked in the room to find a fairly attractive male waiting there. I proceeded to listen to his heart and lungs, test his reflexes and muscle strength, completed my physical exam, then went to get the medical assistant to stand in the room while I did a hernia check. When I finished, I reported back to my doc that nothing was abnormal, except I noticed the patient was sort of shivering during the whole exam. Since the office AC has been broken (its 78-80 degrees in every room), I wondered aloud if it could be a neurological issue. The doc started laughing and said, “No, Christine. It’s because you’re a pretty girl close to his age.” I turned every shade of red imaginable! 2.5 years into my marriage and stuff like that still makes me feel pretty special! I informed my hubby that his wife is smokin’ and tempting all her patients- he said he already knew that! Haha!
Speaking of marriage, another patient I had last week yelled “HOLY COW” when I walked in the room. Naturally, I did the typical girl thing of “oh crap, I have a booger/food/makeup/fill-in-the-blank on my face” number… but he grabbed my left hand and said “you must be married to a millionaire!” He was giving me a compliment on my ring, which, as any married/engaged girl will tell you, never ever gets old.
I also had my first truly difficult patient. He was belligerent from the moment he walked in the door and proceeded to lecture my PA and I about how no one had ever told him to practice lifestyle change to help his diabetes (which is impossible- every patient ever diagnosed with diabetes is counseled on healthy diet and exercise), and how doctors and med students are paid by the drug companies (which is illegal, by the way) to prescribe drugs that don’t really work, and blah blah blah. He was rude and had no basis for his argument and I found myself near tears as he continued to insult my character and my choice to practice medicine. I knew these patients existed- we even had to practice with actors last year in school- but it still didn’t prepare me for someone just plain mean for no reason.
Besides that bad experience, I’ve done a ton of cool stuff. I’ve done stitches (in family med? yep!), pap smears, rectal exams, school physicals (come by and see me, ha!), and taken care of children, elderly, and everyone in between. I’ve even been offered pain killers and illegal drugs by one very generous patient (I kindly refused)! Overall I’ve had much more of a positive experience with family medicine than I anticipated I would. I’m not sure why I had a bad picture in my mind, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how patients have accepted me and with the amount responsibility the doctors have entrusted to me.