Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Vote for Pedro

Our new patient Napoleon is hard to read. More Napoleon Bonaparte than Napoleon Dynamite. Asking him for intimate personal information - like, for example, whether he feels thirsty - is more taxing than you'd think. He gives out these details piecemeal, like a serial killer toying with the police. Finding out when his bowels last opened takes the entire day, and usually ends up with me negotiating with the nurses to get him a double helping of dessert. He's a master, and gives away nothing for free.

He's pretty clear on one thing though: he's smarter than I am. He peppers our conversations with references to the times he's Googled his condition, and the self-help groups he's been to.

As far as he's concerned, a medical degree doesn't count for much if you don't actually have the disease. We've disagreed on so many aspects of his treatment that I've honestly considered telling him that I too have a complex intestinal disorder, just so he'll hear me out.

I can't fault him: his rules apply to everyone. Consultants get the same disdain as entry-level graduates. Studies in major journals are rejected: the authors don't have the symptoms, so they don't know what they're talking about. Napoleon's logic is impeccable.

This Frenchman's a tough nut to crack. Short of acquiring his disease, which may or may not necessitate a bizarre infectious agent, I'm not going to win this argument. I'm not even on a level playing field. This could well be my Waterloo.


Elaine said...

No, if the patient is apoleon, then you are Wellington, so you will win at Waterloo! (good luck, anyway).

steph said...

"As far as he's concerned, a medical degree doesn't count for much if you don't actually have the disease".

Difficult and all as he sounds, that guy's got a point you know. The best training course for any doc/nurse is a stint in hospital!

Anonymous said...

to be fair the average educated long term diabetic knows lots more about the practical side of diabetic medical management than the average junior doc or GP

you would be amazed how little many GPs (for instance) even with a declared "special interest" in this subject often know

the patient often get wildly conflicting advice from GP, specialist nurse, dietician, and specialist consultant, so much so that some of these medical folk know from experience the wildly differing advice each of their collegues will give, and the poor old patient is made to make the best guess from the available options, or use trial and error

and of course with the cost saving measures in place to reduce consultant level interactions, and push more of the work out to specialist nurses and GPs, it leaves the patients more open to what quite often verges on witch doctory

so yea many such patients develop a healthy lack of respect for the differing medical opinions

i think its for the medical folk to get their house in order before slagging off the patients