Monday, February 15, 2010

The Art of Communication

I like surgeons. I've gotten to know quite a few this year, and in general, I find surgeons to be a straightforward, no bullshit, cool, confident, highly skilled, competent bunch. They fix people! It's totally impressive. I've been in the business world for about 20 years now, and I can say that working an Excel spreadsheet just can't compete with neatly slicing a person open, removing an offending part, and then sewing the person back up. Lots of times in one day, even!

However, there is one area where I would argue that former English majors and MBA types can teach MDs a few things-- the fine art of communication. I want to take a moment to share some actual phrases doctors have said to me this year:

1.) You have a lovely thorax.
2.) You could become hirsute.
3.) We will get you a larger size. We really don't make implants in your size. (Gulp. Really.)

I'm going to elaborate on each one, because each one, in my opinion, is so damn funny.

Pre-mastectomy, I am sitting in my plastic surgeon's office discussing the upcoming procedure. He has some kind of senior resident visiting patients with him. We talk about implants, how they will be put in, what kind, what size, etc. The resident peers closely at my torso and says, "I think you will get a great result because you have a lovely thorax." Thorax? What am I, an insect? Why would you say THORAX?? That is just bizarre.

Pre-sub total hysterectomy (now that's a fun cocktail party phrase), I am sitting in my gynecological oncologist's office after the exam. I have a list of questions for him regarding side effects of going through menopause at the ripe old age of 39. I want all of the options and the various pros and cons, kind of like a female anatomy decision tree. He is very obliging and we start to walk through different scenarios. We get into sex drive and how that could be impacted by hormonal changes. I ask for some possible solutions, and he says that adding testosterone can increase sex drive (yep, any teenage boy overdosing on testosterone will certainly agree). But then, the kicker-- he musingly states, "But you could become hirsute." I can no longer focus on anything he is saying. It's like the Charlie Brown teacher... "wha wha wha wha, wha wha wha." Background noise. Did he really tell me I am going to become HAIRY?? What, so my choices are smooth skinned and sexually disinterested, or hairy and horny? Holy crap.

Again, pre-mastectomy, sitting in my breast surgeon's office (he does removal as opposed to reconstruction). He is the ultimate no-nonsense guy. Right to the point. He looks at my chest and says, "Well, we will get you a larger size because we really don't make implants in your size." I pause, considering. A few thoughts go through my mind:
1.) Of course. Makes some kind of weird sense. Why the hell would anyone go through all of this surgery just to reconstruct an A cup? A cups are barely even visible.
2.) Followed immediately by...why the fuck not? I happen to LIKE my A cups. They have served me well over the years. Great for jogging. Nursed two kids. Why would anyone presume that I would choose to "upgrade" and get a bigger size?
3.) Then followed by... sigh. Of course. I'm going for the upgrade. Who am I kidding. Am I selling out in some way by going for Big & Bouncy B cups? Eh. I have "foob greed."

Anyone else have some crazy doctor stories to share?

No comments:

Post a Comment