Monday, August 26, 2013

When Doctors Get Sick

 There is an old saying that doctors make the worst patients. I never thought  much about this until I went through an experience where I went from being an IVF doctor to a patient. I had an infection that caused pus to form in my body, and the doctor I went to advised that the best thing to do was to have it surgically opened up so the pus could drain.  Now, getting an abscess cut open and drained sounds simple enough, but as a doctor, I was not sure that this was the best thing to do for it.

For the first time in my medical career, I was on the other side of the examination table and even though as a doctor, with tons of medical training and experience , I was very reluctant to subject myself to the knife.  Surely, there was a better way to handle this abscess then to cut into my body.   The surgeon called it “minor surgery” – but the only surgery which is minor is one done on someone else ! It occurred to me as I sat there, that this is what my patients go through when I tell them they need IVF !

As my doctor was speaking, I began thinking about looking into alternative medicine because the last thing I wanted to do was to let a doctor cut into my body , even though I knew that this person was just as skilled at their job as I was.  Was it fear that was making me reluctant, or was I really concerned that the surgical intervention would hinder my own body’s ability to heal itself? I had become a patient who was about to ignore his doctor’s advice – and this was an eye opening experience for me as a doctor . Hopefully this will teach me to become more empathetic !

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