Posted on May 2, 2011
When the Doctor Becomes the Patient: Not Always a Pretty Picture
While in the midst of my post-surgery “down time” I’ve been chuckling a bit about what my own physicians have endured as a result of my medical background. How commonly is a surgeon interrogated about what type of suture pattern and material he intends to use? How often does an anesthesiologist need to provide a detailed pharmacologic rundown of the anti-emetic (anti-vomiting) drugs that will be used to keep the patient with a queasy stomach from puking post-operatively?
I remember one particular appointment with my family physician a few years back. When we discussed the reason for the visit I began with, “I think I have cancer!” I explained that I’d been losing weight even though I’d been eating normally. After all, a diagnostic workup on a middle-aged dog or cat losing weight in the “midst of plenty” often results in the diagnosis of cancer. My physician worked hard to hide a grin as he explained that, given my age, sex, and overall vigor, other diagnoses were far more likely. Thankfully, he was right, and the next time I saw him he asked for permission to share this “amusing patient story” with some medical students he was training.
Sometimes, the medical knowledge I have can be a detriment to my own peace of mind. As the story above illustrates, I’m always keenly aware of the worst-case scenario (tough on a person who is a natural born worrier). Would I trade being a veterinarian for any other profession? Not in a million years. Not only do I love what I do, I love that my medical background (along with a bit of chutzpah) allows me to be a stellar medical advocate for myself. And if you’ve read much of what I’ve written in the past, you know that I am all about medical advocacy!
Do you work within the medical profession? If so, how has this been helpful or detrimental when interacting with your health care professionals (including your veterinarian)?
Best wishes for good health,
Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
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Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.