Over the course of any given day I sometimes find myself either pleading or negotiating with patients to take steps to improve their health. Am I the only one who has found this to be the case? It is becoming increasingly frustrating. Sometimes I just want to say, “Listen, you came to me for help. I am telling you to do ____ it is up to you to do so. Please feel free to come back when you are ready to listen to the advice you paid for."
Sometimes I think parenting has prepared me more for medicine than medical school. Raising teenagers has taught me the skill of listening and then collaborating to reach an agreement without inciting a rebellion. These can be tricky, shark infested waters, one must tread lightly. The last thing I want is a patient stopping his medications or a teenager sneaking around. Unfortunately, I did not raise my patients from infancy. Their previous doctor relationships could have been positive or negative. Their perception of the doctor-patient relationship could be completely skewed from what I would want to instill.
Or maybe this phenomenon is a result of an American culture that encourages instant gratification and looking for the easy solution. Yes, you must give of your liter of soda a day to get your blood sugars under control, and yes, you must exercise to lose weight and feel better and no I don’t have a pill that will fix all of your personal problems. What is a doctor to do? Give up or continue to chip away at a brick wall with a wet noodle? When these patients start to bother you, is this the beginning of burn out?
Don’t get me wrong though. I have many patients that are more than willing to do the work that is needed. They may grumble and tell me I am ruining their fun but they make some changes for the better. I usually thank these patients for doing the right thing and tell them I am going to brag to the other doctors what “good patients” I have. Oh my, I feel like I am bragging to the other mothers in the play group.