Thursday, June 28, 2012

This is what a doctor should be

Today I saw a doctor, a specialist, because I have some weird respiratory symptoms. Nothing serious, but sufficiently disconcerting to warrant further investigation. He asked me hundreds of questions. He thinks it's nothing, but he's not going to say so until he's exhausted every avenue. He considers my symptoms a puzzle to be solved. That is very much what I want to see in a doctor.

But there's more. He asked me about my weight. What it is and how it's changed. I told him it is greater than it was 15 years ago, but stable for the first time in my life. I made it clear this stability is very exciting to me. Despite having made the standard "everyone battles their weight" comments, he dropped the weight discussion completely when I made it clear it was a non-issue.

And still more. He's referring me to another specialist based on family history, because he thinks it's important. He's recommended a doctor he thinks is thorough and I'll get on well with. It has little or nothing to do with why I saw him, but he thinks it should happen. He's having his secretary make the appointment for me.

This man used to be my boss in a former life, but I didn't get special treatment. I sought him out because when I worked for him I saw how he treated and cared for his patients. This is the gold standard in medicine. There is no doubt some of my joy today is based on seeing a man I always greatly admired again. Still, a goodly proportion was from being treated as an intelligent, valuable human being. This should be every person's experience at a doctor's office, every time.

Dr Peter Bye, you are an amazing, compassionate, intelligent and all round awesome man. I am privileged to have worked for you, and even more so to be your patient.