Thursday, February 10, 2011

Speaking my mind

Two weeks ago I discovered a new dark side to being a medical student. I was talking with a friend of mine who has had mono for six months. Every time I see her I ask her how she is feeling and if it's getting better. This time she told me they discovered that they had done the wrong test at the doctor's office when they first diagnosed her with mono and that they're not sure what she has.

Now, at this point let me just say that if you're going to get hurt around a group of people, try to make sure that none of them are first year medical students because we always think we have the answer even though we are seldom (never) correct. Usually we'll think that you have whatever we've been studying most recently. Foot pain? It's probably some kind of nerve disorder or scoliosis. Sore throat? Probably a secondary symptom of a lung obstruction.

Anyway, when my friend told me that they didn't know what she had the hamster in my head started running. Then I heard myself say "maybe you have cancer." I don't really have words to describe the look on her face, the best I can do right now are horrified, angry, and shocked. The best part is that I was actually trying to be helpful and instead I made her think she was going to die. I guess I still have some stuff to learn about this whole doctor business.


  1. When I was expecting Lizzie, a first year wagged his finger at my belly and said, "You know, your body is never going to be the same after this." I nearly hit him. Fortunately for all involved, he didn't end up in OB.

  2. Oh dang. Sorry about that one. It's funny how when you are around that kind of stuff for long enough you forget that those kinds of diseases (cancer) happen to real people and you talk about it all very casually. I remember when I worked for a urogynecologist doing some transcription. I started casually talking about incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse with someone. And then I heard myself say, "and you know, most people don't know it's a problem that can be fixed with a couple of simple procedures....." As you guessed, shock, horror, disgust etc. etc. Hopefully it only takes once to learn that lesson, but if you are like me it may take years. Best of luck!

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