26. When your friends and family are also doctors, you’re in good hands.
The point of view from Fresherty you may find interesting because they are not from the USA. Let’s see how it compares to some of our other stories. “I’ll preface it with “Not In USA.” You really don’t, at least not in the same way you would as a patient. Most trivial stuff doesn’t require any interaction with others. If you’re unsure, want a second opinion or sounding board… that’s again not really a problem. Especially when you come from a family of doctors, but even if that’s not the case, your entire circle of friends is … you guessed it, doctors. So you just call them. When something more serious happens, it’s more like a weird consult – we both know what’s going on, let’s skip the bull and get into the important stuff.”
“A bit of a special case is when there’s an emergency. When calling 112, you really should start with “I’m a doctor, here’s what’s happening” to – again – at least attempt to skip all the bull. Not that it always works. It’s really extremely frustrating speaking from experience. When for one reason or another, you or someone close to you has to be admitted to a hospital, you call someone you know that works there or someone you know that knows someone who works there. Again: to skip all the bull (and honestly also to jump the queue and avoid a ‘normal patient’ experience). But yeah, you really don’t want to be admitted unless you REALLY need to for a variety of reasons.”
25. Emergency services are just as important as the doctors in the hospital.
“The USA here, former 911 medical dispatch. At the private ambulance agency where I worked, when a caller says they’re a doctor, we still have to follow our protocol and ask our standard questions. (NAEMD for the dispatch folks) “Tell me exactly what happened. How old is the patient? Is the patient conscious? Are they breathing? Is their breathing normal?”…and so on. This can lead to some very disgruntled doctors throwing medical jargon at me and yelling, “Just get here now!” This is understandable because they’re not used to dealing with emergencies in the field. Insertcaffeine actually describes a typical 911 call here, which is very insightful and interesting. “Doctor: JUST GET HERE NOW! Don’t you know what commotio cordis is?!
Me: No, sir. The ambulance is driving over from 38th & Wadsworth. Doctor: I DON’T KNOW WHERE THAT IS! Me: [feelin smug as #$%& but continuing the call with professionalism] The ambulance should be here within the next few minutes. Is there someone who can relieve the person doing CPR? Crew: On scene Me: [to radio] They’re on the baseball field, [timestamp] Me: [to phone] You should see the ambulance driving onto the field. Please wave them down.
“For me, it’s hard to turn off the “here’s what I think is going on and here’s what I need” sort of mentality. It’s just a reflex because that’s what we do every day. Identify a problem, propose a solution. But it is bad. Why? Two reasons: 1.) It’s a d#$%-move. It is disrespectful to tell another practitioner how they should be doing their job. Trying to direct your own care is a quick way to get your doctor annoyed with you, and generally speaking, it won’t improve your outcome but will drive up the bill.” Broken_castor makes a great point – you have to let other doctors do their job too!
“2. I am often wrong about my body. Despite all my medical knowledge, interpreting signs and symptoms on yourself is very different from doing it to a patient, and we are often wrong. For example, a brilliant surgeon friend of mine diagnosed herself with a stomach ulcer, and it was a small bowel resection needing an exploratory operation. I mean, as a surgeon, that stuff is literally our bread and butter. Did she diagnose herself correctly, no? Instead, she dealt with the pain for weeks while the ulcer meds did nothing and ended up in the emergency room once it got unbearable (i.e., the way that every other non-physician patient presents). The emergency room doc diagnosed her before she’d even gotten the CT because it was textbook small bowel obstruction. It’s just not easy to diagnose yourself.”
“Personally, if it’s a doctor I have never met before, I don’t announce that I am a doctor. If the question of what I do comes up, then I will let them know. I do not want their judgment to be clouded based on knowing that I am a doctor, nor am I looking for preferential treatment. So, I do have an idea of what should be done, but like any other patient, I do have the right to refuse treatment or disagree with the treatment plan, but for the most part, I go along with what the doctor suggests.”
“I don’t give them a hard time, and I am never rude to them like most patients are. Learning to let that control go is something I had to work on when I became a doctor. I have a small child, and I am not her doctor. She has a pediatrician, and we take her when she is due for her follow-up visits, sick visits, etc. Again, I do this because I do not want my relationship with her to cloud my judgment.” Cooziethegrouch is smart in making the decision on separating family from business and care.
“I’m a pediatric resident. I’m currently pregnant so going to the doctor quite a bit lately. I see a different person every time, for the most part. I guess that’s how it goes in an academic setting. The intake form asks about occupation, so if anyone bothers to read the social history section of my chart, they’ll know. They might ask me about how I’m holding up in residency. The last time when I said I was having hip pain, told me not to take the stairs all the time (we tend to be stairs, people, when rounding in the hospital because it’s usually more convenient).” Worryworttheworrier understands the routine of the checkups but has an interesting boundary she has set for her birth – keep reading to see what she’s requesting.
“But other than that and me understanding things on a different level than the average person, it’s not particularly awkward or different. It does get awkward when I see a brand new med student but only for me because I’m like, ah, I remember those days. Also, I’m not going to let any med students come to my delivery because I have the potential to supervise them later on. One of the family medicine residents I worked with twice is going to be on L&D around my due date but promised me that he would not pick me up as a patient.
“I’ll let you in on a little-known secret among docs: The stethoscope is largely an outdated instrument with very low sensitivity and specificity for most pathologies. It only remains because patients expect it. It basically has zero utility for a new patient without symptoms (non-emergent exam). If someone has difficulty breathing, do you think it matters what the stethoscope sounds like? You’re still going to get an X-ray and/or treat.” PacoTacoMeat brings up some interesting insider knowledge. You could ask your own doctor about this on your next visit! They continue:
“If someone is having chest symptoms or an abnormal pulse, do you think the stethoscope will dictate whether a CXR, CT, EKG, and/or echo are ordered? No one other than a cardiologist is going to diagnose any cardiac abnormality, and even they are going to order one or more of the tests above. Basically, no relevant diagnosis or clinical decision-making is made with a stethoscope nowadays. The only place the stethoscope has a small use is in the emergent setting and/or where there’s no modern technology from the last 100 years available.”
“If I go to the doctor, it’ll be a doctor who isn’t in my specialty, and I will literally behave like any other patient except I know what to tell him better. I’ll just skip the part where I see a GP before it and go directly to the specialist because my knowledge level is equal to the GPs knowledge level usually.” Gk786 makes a great point/suggestion of leaving out the fact that you are a doctor as well. This could mean that they get the same level of care as any other patient and is treated like one.
“Back when I first started seeing patients as a medical student and taking histories, one of my first patients was a gynecologist lady. I took her history and was presenting it to the attending when she corrected me on a pretty big mistake I made in the middle, saying, “No, that’s not true; you didn’t ask that properly. I said I had this, this, and this.” It was sooo embarrassing for me, haha. But usually, I love doctor patients because they are easier to talk to and explain everything to clearly and quickly.”
19. Sometimes, it’s just easier to say you work in healthcare.
“Not a doctor but work in healthcare and just graduating from nursing school. The actual workers (doctors, nurses, etc.) don’t generally tell you, so those that often do, in my experience, aren’t actually what they say they are (such as saying they are a nurse and then asking me if their blood pressure was good. Or saying I “hit their finger bone” when doing a finger stick, which is impossible with the needle I’m using). Usually, the only times my providers have known I do anything healthcare is when I accidentally use a medical term that most people wouldn’t, and that’s usually what prompts me to ask someone if they didn’t tell me.”
“For the patients, I’ve had legit in healthcare it’s just easier to explain things since I can just say the medical term and not have to try and explain in other terms and often have a better understanding of meds so I can just name the med and they know what I’m talking about. Fewer explanations are needed overall. Bonus that I often don’t need to actually go to the doctor since I know enough providers to get their opinions and can get the doctors I work at to prescribe some meds without an official visit since we just chat during work.” Future_nurse19 is right. There are definitely perks to working alongside doctors!
18. It doesn’t matter who does certain treatments; it’s all the same.
“I’m a Physicians’s Assistant, not a GP, but I think the situations are fairly comparable here. For most preventative things like checking my blood pressure, my weight, or getting a mammogram, there’s absolutely no difference between my experience and the average pt. For any kind of vaccination, test, or giving blood. Again no difference. The biggest oddity is that when I’m sick, I consciously try to come in with symptoms rather than a diagnosis or any kind of treatment. As in rather than saying, “I have an ear infection, can I get a z-pack” or even telling them what I suspect, I’ll just describe my symptoms and let them take a look and come to the same conclusion themselves.”
“Thus far, I’ve never had any reason to contradict any diagnosis I’ve gotten, but I have at times asked for a different medication than what they suggest. Often that’s just down to personal preference, though.” PA_PA is talking about a great approach in how they handle their medical care. Instead of saying what they think the diagnosis is, it’s better to see what the other doctor comes up with themselves from their point of view. You can always say what you prefer later or if you think it could be something else!
“I’m a dentist. I regularly tell my patients with TMJ issues how to alleviate their pain…reduce stress, cut out caffeine, sleep in literally any position other than your stomach, stop chewing gum, hold your head/neck in a proper position, actually get a nightguard and wear it. I’ve had TMJ pain on and off for six years. I do all of the things I tell my patients NOT to do. I do them every single day and often to excess.”
“Long story short: I diagnose myself. I don’t treat myself.” ParkingTadpole explains they are only human too. Sometimes, you’ll want to listen to the saying, “practice what you preach.” If you are giving advice out to people, you should be practicing that advice yourself too. Even though he does diagnose themselves, which many of the other doctors on here admit to not doing, at least they don’t try to treat or medicate themselves.
16. Unremarkable genitals are lost in a sea of other unremarkable genitals.
“Okay, so I’m a CNA, so I’ve seen more d!$%s than a hooker. I am WAY less shy about my body than health care professionals now. It’s just so not a big deal to us. I see naked people literally every day at work. I’m not even uncomfortable or shy when I get a pelvic exam (or transvag ultrasound or an endometrial biopsy). It’s just more skin, and I know from personal experience that unremarkable genitals are lost in a sea of other unremarkable genitals.” Damn_Dog_Inappropes explains what we often hear from our parents – they are doctors, and they have seen it all! It’s best to be open and honest with your doctors.
“That being said, I’m pretty tight with my primary care doc. He’s never even so much as seen me in my undies, much less had his hand inside me. As much as I understand that it’s just more skin, and 3.2 seconds after my clothes are back on, he’ll have forgotten what my vag looks like. I’m still not sure I want him to see me naked. I know someday he’s going to have to do a well-woman exam on me (at least a breast exam), but it is not this day!”
“There was a point I was waiting to go in for an op, and it kept getting delayed. Then all of a sudden they called me up and said the NHS would be paying for me to go to a Bupa hospital and have the op. So, I spoke to a friend that worked in the hospital I should have been having the op in originally. I asked him if he could find anything out. It turns out the surgeon that was meant to be doing my op on the NHS had decided to do a favor for his girlfriend by doing an op on her daughter and made a mistake, but I was waiting on an op on my ear, so guessing it was the same for her. ”
“Not sure the outcome of the mistake, but he got suspended while it was investigated, and a few of his patients that were waiting for ops got moved to private at the NHS expense. 10/10 would want my NHS surgeon to do that again if it meant that I got to go private without the cost.” Homingstar got very lucky this time. If they didn’t have that friend who could find out about the surgeon doing another procedure – they wouldn’t have gotten the extra care. What a sweet deal for them in the end!
Preech says, “I come from a family of doctors. I am a doctor, and I grew up knowing basically every doctor in my area. The best story I got is about a doctor we will call “Graybow,” perhaps one of the most senior and respected internal medicine doctors in my area. My dad is a workaholic. He loves medicine more than anything, and if he could do anything, it would likely be spending more time in the hospital. Me? Not so much… Dad and Dr. Graybow were very similar in how much they love their work. Dad and Graybow over the years became good friends and had a sort of direct and cynical humor they shared with each other. At one point, my dad cracked a joke at Graybow because he again showed up to work even though he was a bit sick.
Dad asked: “Hey Gray, when do you think you are going to retire? You are getting pretty old, and we don’t want to have to pick you up off the floor here at some point. Graybow replied: I’ll never retire. Wait. Yeah, I will… when I die. Graybow never retired. A few years later, he was driving back home from an outing with his middle-aged son, and he started having a heart attack. While I assume he was experiencing the severe and horrible pain of a heart attack, he just looked over at his son and said: I am sorry, I have a heart attack. …he passed away after pulling over. The man apologized to his son for having a heart attack that he was completely aware of. I can’t say I would have handled that as he did.”
13. Mental health is as important as our physical health.
A deleted user says, “Not a doctor but a long-term caregiver who’s worked in Hospice/Mental Illness/and Developmental Disabilities. I married a man with PTSD induced by severe childhood trauma. He suffers from severe depression and anxiety. About two years ago, he had a mental breakdown after a large change in our lives—actually, several large changes. We got married. Both changed our jobs. I had major surgery, we moved and adopted a dog all in the span of six months. The day his breakdown took hold, life had completely changed for him, and I had been hounding him to help me pack up our lives every day for weeks and just didn’t understand why he wasn’t excited to be moving to a great new place that allowed dogs! He loves dogs!”
“And as blatantly obvious as it seems now, I didn’t see it then. I deep down feel incredible guilt for being someone who has had so much training in healthcare, and caring for others, watching for signs of mental health struggles, the fact that I not only didn’t see him struggling but also contributed to it, had made me question whether or not I am a good person. I have felt so guilty for so long. Through therapy, I have learned to understand that when it’s your loved one, you are blinded by that. Your love for them hinders your ability to think straight. To see the signs effectively. And that’s okay. Luckily I was able to get him to help through therapy and some PRN medication. I feel so incredibly lucky to still have him today. And so incredibly guilty that I didn’t help him sooner.”
“Doctor here. I will diagnose myself and write scripts or as a partner for things like flu, tendinitis, etc. I go to a derm friend every 6-12 months for a mole check. Other big things I’ll ask friends I trust who are doctors.” says the doctor going by _Gphill_, which seems like it may be a blurred line – is it okay to write your own prescriptions? Should doctors be allowed to do this? It seems like it should always be looked at by another doctor, even for the less serious things.
They continue: “The major problem this question leads to but may not ask do you call in sick when you are a doctor. In 9 years of private practice, I haven’t missed a day, despite being sick. There was an article a few years ago that labeled it a Presenteeism instead of absenteeism. It’s showing up when you shouldn’t. Personally, I don’t want to inconvenience people who have missed work or waited on a result, and I don’t want to dump on my partners. Lots of handwashing and apologies for staying far back during conversations.”
“My father is a doc. He had been having shortness of breath and chest tightness worsening over a few months. One day, after work was done and the clinic was closed, he hopped in the CT scanner and read his own CT scan. Massively enlarged lymph nodes all through his body – lymphoma. He’s alive and well after diagnosing himself with cancer years ago!” MrsRodgers’s father had an outcome after having a scary diagnosis. It’s a good thing they did the CT scan, and here is an update on how he is doing years later:
“EDIT: Holy crap, this blew up. To address FAQs: he is a partner in a private practice group that owns their own outpatient centers. Thus he was able to use the scanner informally. Yes, I know we are privileged to be a medical family, and he is so lucky to have access to care that isn’t affordable for a huge chunk of the US population. MEDICARE FOR ALL. I’m not sure if he had a partner stay behind to help with the scanner. I’ll have to ask. And he is 17 or so odd years in remission from stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and doing fantastic. Retiring in a month after 45 years in radiology!”
“Okay, so my dad is a doctor, and one time when I was around 7, he fell out of a tree directly onto a rock while we were camping, and he had a giant scrape on his side. He told us he was okay and nothing was wrong, so we left as planned and canoed back to our car without incident, besides my mom constantly telling him to stop paddling because of his side and him telling her everything was fine. He basically just said it was a scrape and nothing was wrong.” says The_Chief_Zev, but that’s not their dad’s only misfortune. Keep reading to see what really happened.
“About a week later, he was having trouble BREATHING, and he still wouldn’t go see a doctor because he self-diagnosed that he was okay, so my mom had to FORCE him to go to the hospital and get an x-ray done, and it turns out he had two broken ribs. So not only do doctors self-diagnose themselves, but they’re also pretty dumb when they’re doing it. TLDR: my dad’s a doctor/idiot, and he wrongly self diagnoses himself all the time because he thinks he’s immortal or something.”
“I’m the audiologist at an ENT office; there are two more audiologists that work at our “subdivision” hearing aid clinic. I do everything in my power to avoid calling out sick because I know that a) they HATE covering the ENT schedule and b) their patients will have to be rescheduled. Everyone is inconvenienced, and we lose money.” explains Crazydisneycatlady, which is understandable. Everyone gets sick, and unfortunately, people need to be covered at their job from time to time.
“However, as an audiologist…if I’m so sick that I can’t talk, there’s little point to me doing my job. I’ve called in sick four times in the past 2+ years. I had a horrible cold (one sick day) that improved, I went on vacation, and when I came back, it reared up again (another sick day). I also had strep throat earlier this year, so I had to take two days for antibiotics to fully kick in since I picked them up in the afternoon – the throat pain waking me up from a dead sleep was a big clue for that one.”
8. None of us are perfect, but we should listen to the advice from our doctors.
“Middle-aged doctor here. Most of the docs I work with are obsessed with preventive care, so we try to keep the cardiovascular risk factors under control. We take our blood pressure drugs, our statins, and our metformin if we need it. We’re not perfect, especially me, but we tend to exercise, and we watch what we eat. I know one doctor who still smokes, but he’s a rarity, and he’s practically a tourist attraction, like a two-headed calf in a village museum or something.”
Throwaway9045235360 eats right and exercises, which is what a lot of us try to do. We are all human, though, and sometimes slip up. They continue: “The observation is probably correct that when doctors have a symptom, we tend to downplay or ignore it. And I believe we tend to decline therapy. I have a couple of minor orthopedic ailments that my doctor has suggested I have fixed. I laugh. I’ve known a couple of docs who declined treatment for cancer.”
7. “I’ll feel sorry for myself and watch Netflix on the couch.”
“The emergency doctor here – my specialty means I’m usually thinking in ‘worst case scenario’ or ‘what can’t I miss’ when I’m seeing patients. I usually end up thinking along similar lines when it’s myself as well. Things like ‘Could I have a lower respiratory tract, or do I have pneumonia? It’s probably the former, and if it’s the latter, I’ll get worse, and I can go see someone for antibiotics later on/go to ED if I’m persistently tachycardic, tachypnoeic, febrile with rigors, etc. In the meantime, I’ll feel sorry for myself and watch Netflix on the couch.'”
“I also think about what the actual management would be if I had the illness that I might be worried about in the first place. For example, I had a nasty fall onto my flexed knee the other day, and it was exquisitely tender. I was almost sure it was just a bad bruise, but I knew if I DID have a fracture, it would probably be for conservative (non-operative) management anyway, so I just limped around for a week or so.” DrTickle28 is right – sometimes it’s not as bad as it seems. However, it probably would have been best to get it checked out to be safe.
6. Take a personal day for your own health and your family’s health.
“My wife is a doctor in Canada. She works in a small practice with five doctors. One of them is her family physician that she will see with an official appointment, seeing as a patient and not a colleague. Everything is documented in the ERM software. If she gets sick, you power through the day and see your patients. You can’t just call in sick as you have 20-30 patients booked and no one to cover you. You don’t get time off or sick leave. She then comes home and does charting for a couple of hours and dies in bed, and does it all over again the next morning.”
“Doctors cannot afford to be sick. Financially or for their patients that will be pissed if you rebook their appointments last minute.” Scootbert is right, and as a society, we have come to expect the best from our doctors. But they are human too, and we need to be kind of they need to rebook an appointment. You never know when someone has to call in for a personal day, whether it be for their family or for themselves.
“Not a doctor here. Paramedic. We’re even worse patients than doctors because we like to think we know what’s going on and get no time off to actually be sick. Often times we come to work sicker than most of the people we pick up in our ambulance. We self-diagnose, and if it doesn’t require a prescription or surgeon, we make do with duct tape and NSAIDs. If we DO require actual medical intervention, we do all the things we hate when our patients do it to us.”
“We tell them where to start IVs. We ask to see imaging and lab results. If there was a way for us to stay awake and assist in our own surgery, we’d do that too! The last time I was getting an IV pre-OP (shoulder repair), I was unintentionally telling the nurse where I preferred the IV. The nurse said if I didn’t cut it out, she’d find a much less pleasant spot to place the IV. My wife, also a medic, agreed with her and told her to use a much larger needle too. I shut up, haha” IVStarter was right to leave the doctor taking care of them to do the procedure! No one likes a “backseat driver.”
4. If you have the coverage and knowledge, use it!
“For context, US MD, licensed and double boarded. My aim is to live as long as possible and be as healthy as possible during that time. I feel confident to make most diagnoses knowing my history. However, I’ve seen enough to know that it’s better to be totally sure than not when it comes to most things because there’s always a non-zero percent chance that it’s something rare and deadly. For colds, supportive care, and no antibiotics. Blood in the stool, colonoscopy tomorrow. I pay for insurance so that it’s there when I need it. I’m not hesitant to use it. Also, I know specialists of all types.”
It sounds like DoctorJonesMD has it all figured out. They continue: “When I need another set of eyes or a second or third opinion, they’re just a text away. I do all age-appropriate cancer screening early just because I have the access. Life insurance is locked into a great rate, so there’s no financial harm to me being a bit more paranoid. Another thing, if I have a bad virus, I’m staying home. No reason to infect all of my patients with something that they may be less equipped to fight off. I get the flu shot at the start of each season despite never having had the flu. And I get the appropriate vaccines when I travel. I take vitamins because they could potentially help. Just a multivitamin, vitamin D, and fish oil.”
3. You can self-diagnose to a point, but if it’s serious, see your doctor.
“I have on many occasions used online resources to help decide if my symptom is worth seeing a specialist for or escalating (not WebMD obviously, use UpToDate or PubMed). If it’s something serious that I can’t deal with myself, either with time or over-the-counter medication, I would definitely see my general physician either for treatment or specialist referral. I basically just become a regular patient but with an insider perspective on the system and some pre-formed opinions on my own diagnosis.” Ninjase sounds like they’ve got a good routine figured out for when they aren’t feeling great.
They continue: “Currently, I’m dealing with annoying palpitations. I got an ECG at work which showed frequent ectopics. At the moment, I’m sitting on it debating if I should bother seeing a cardiologist or if it will just disappear since most cases are completely benign and self-limiting. In terms of prescription, I would never prescribe myself new medication for acute illness. I only self prescribe to renew old scripts that I can’t be bothered getting. The worst thing is getting medical certificates for work since I can’t write them myself, and it’s a huge waste of everyone’s time just to get a piece of paper saying I have the flu.”
“Well, my wife can tell you I make the worst patient. I take out my own stitches and tend not to follow post OP instructions too well. I certainly try not to diagnose myself as now I can’t tell if I’m overreacting or underreacting, but when I do get symptoms, boy does my brain feel a little like WebMD sometimes. And I can’t stand being in a Dr’s office, ex. I had to go to a dermatologist, and the whole time in the waiting room, I was thinking about the prognosis of various stages of melanoma I could have. It was benign, of course.”
“I injured my knee badly playing soccer and was at work the next day, borrowed some crutches from physical therapy so I could hobble around and see patients, only got it imaged a month later as my wife had enough, turns out I tore my ACL and lateral meniscus, had to take a week off for surgery sadly. Just the other day at work, I had acute RUQ pain, positive Murphy’s and right shoulder pain, though I had a gallstone, just rode it out in the call room after seeing my patients. I guess I’m terrified of showing up in the ED saying, “I’m a doctor. I think it’s XYZ,” and finding out it’s nothing, and I’m just being pathetic, haha.” Drprocrastinate should never be worried if it’s something else; it’s okay to brainstorm and figure it out to get the best care!
“My husband is a family medicine doc, and he won’t go to the doctor. He found out a year or so ago that he’s diabetic. He’s ashamed because of the stigma, in medicine, associated with diabetes. He takes metformin (self-prescribed) but refuses to use insulin or talk about it. He’s in exquisite pain all of the time (he has had back pain for 20+ years… I think this is making it worse). Just last week, he had two episodes of being incontinent which have never happened before. I sent a long email to a colleague/friend of his. I can’t look back and wish I had done something, and enough is enough.”
Good for 662grace for knowing when to take more action for their husband. Hopefully, it won’t be too late, and he will start taking better care of himself. They continue: “His colleague returns from a vacation tomorrow, so I expect I’ll hear from him soon. My husband knows I sent the email but knows he has no choice in the matter. I love my husband. He is a wonderful, caring physician who is 49 years old and refuses to do anything for his own health, which is going to kill him.”