Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Mole Story !

Today was my first day of dermatology. It also marked my return to adult medicine, which I should say I was not looking forward to.

In a move reminiscent of elementary school “snow day shenanigans,” I phoned the clinic this morning before leaving, just to make sure that it was not cancelled. The woman on the other end of the phoned sounded somewhat dismayed by my questions, probably because I was wearing my early-morning bedroom voice. I had brought the phone number up to bed with me last night, so that I wouldn’t have to even get out of bed if the clinic was cancelled. Well, it was not cancelled, unfortunately! I had to get up.

Anyway, there was a fair bit of entertainment value to my morning, so I really can’t complain. I was working with the army dermatologist, so I had to go to the military hospital and get signed in etc…

Interestingly, I went to the wrong door the first time around and the officers asked me if I was there for the “sick parade.” I said no, and followed their directions to the front door, all the while thinking to myself “what in God’s name is a sick parade, and why would anyone want to participate in such a twisted event?” I had visions of T.V.-style sick people in faulty wheelchairs, with bandaged limbs, and body casts, or people in traction with cervical collars, getting paraded around outdoors by a bunch of orderlies. The was music playing in my mind. Pretty nuts eh?

Shoot, I’ve gotten off track. Okay, so I’d been warned about the guy I was working with. Apparently he had chided one of my classmates for her bad posture and told another that she would need to have an offending mole removed from her face in order to lead a productive life. So I had my guard up a little. Well, this guy was a total riot. He was a mid 60s French Canadian guy with a chip on his shoulder the size of Quebec.

Everytime a patient came in, he ranted on a different topic. These ranging from the military’s poor handling of dermatologic services, to the poor quality of medical school training these days, to his ex-wife’s mishandling of affairs pertaining to their youngest son. I had no choice but to endure the insanity, but the poor patients….oh God, I will never forget the looks on their faces. Sheer horror.

It took me about 30 minutes to figure out that he wasn’t actually engaging in conversation during these tirades. In fact, he was totally indifferent to any comments coming from myself or patients x, y, or z. We all just sat quietly while he bestowed his wisdom upon us. Dude was also fanatical about moles, and had me freaking out about all of the precancerous lesions which are apparently coating my entire body.

Midway through the morning, we went for a coffee break. He suggested that he would pick up the coffee, but that I should bring my wallet because apparently theft is a major issue in our Canadian forces. In any event, he put it in his lab coat for me, which was nice. As luck would have it, a short time later, I was able to spot him 10 bucks to pay for some stamps he wanted to buy. How fortunate.

After the post office, we went to the caf, where this doc generously bought me a coffee. We then went to sit outside so he could have a smoke. What happened next was a very interesting social process: he lit up his smoke and started sucking away on it (obviously). I was totally minding my own business. First of all, like I give a shit if he smokes. Second of all, like I give a shit if he smokes!

Then, out of the blue, he looks over at me and says “I bet you will go home and write all about this in your diary tonight.”

I say “what are you talking about?” I’m thinking to myself, how on earth does he know?

He says “you will go home and write about how this doctor was smoking and what a hypocrite blah blah…”

I said “dude, we all have our poison. I really could not care less if you choose to smoke”

He then went on for about 10 minutes with justifications for why he smokes. All of the stress, how he wants to just ‘bang one off’ and die suddenly rather than go slowly….it was cognitive dissonance theory in complete action.

Then he says “so now you can go home and write an even longer entry about all of the excuses I’ve made for smoking.” I felt like replying "brother, this session is going to cost you at least 150 bucks."

Instead I said “perhaps I will do that. It certainly is an interesting psychological phenomenon, but dude, I really don’t give a shit about your smoking.”

Then we went inside. He tortured a couple more patients, keeping them in his office during his 20 minute tirades, looking at their moles for about 27 seconds, and then sending them away. Then he complained incessantly about how far behind he was in his day, but that his brain was full and he could not work quickly as he needed to clear it between patients (I swear to God I am not making that up). I felt like saying, maybe you should stop whining like a baby and do your job Smokey….

He also told me all about the past women in his life. I had a brief syncopal episode while he told me about his ex-girlfriend’s ectopic pregnancy, and how he would secretly watch her analysing every aspect of her scar in the mirror. WTF guy?

He also told me to forget about the possibility of being a good mom if I become a doctor. Essentially, he stated that I will never see my children and will be perpetually plagued with guilt. He nearly got a punch in the face for that one…

So there you have it. At noon he asked if I’d like to stay for the rest of the day. I politely declined, citing that I had several errands to run. Truth is, I could not have stayed one extra minute enduring his brand of negativity training.

have a million things I could say about him. Such a fascinating specimen. Despite his brash exterior, I found him to be a wide open book. Also, I think he is somewhat good guy, who works hard... Just needs the company of a little lady i figure. In fact, that is exactly what he said himself.

i have to go to sleep right now!


Blogger The One and Only said...

It never ends with you! You end up hangin with some pretty interesting people. Listen Tabs, as time moves on and I get more experience with the medical profession it seems as though I am disliking the people in the profession. I am feeling like I am trapped in a technical scientific bubble where people seem to forget that I am a person and that I need some TLC (for lack of a better term). It seems like the ones who smile at me are the med students!!!

6:36 PM  
Blogger telltale tabby said...

Dear TOAO,

I'm sorry if you feel like a number sometimes. There's no excuse for it. I think that as time goes by, health professionals forget that what has become routine day to day stuff for them, is not so for the patients.

The med students' day to day work is anything but routine, so maybe they can still relate to what it feels like to be stressed out and walking on tenterhooks.

That's my best guess doll. How are things going at home? You all settled in?


4:01 PM  
Blogger bbctchr,M.D. said...


1:05 AM  

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