As part of our surgery rotation we are requiered to attend clinic several times a week with different surgeons. Surgeons, in general, are a rather cantankerous bunch, with a quick temperament and not always the best people skills. I guess this makes sense considering most of the people they deal with are unconscious.
Yesterday I was working with Dr. Snarky Surgeon, and we had a morbidly obese patient referred in due to hernias. I spoke with the patient prior to the doctor, and it was obvious that this patient is very unhappy. Due to the patient's size, comorbidities, and the very low risk of the type of hernias she had, the doctor did not feel she was a good candidate for surgery. At this point the patient became very upset and visibly frustrated due to her situation. Though I agree with the doctor that most of her problems are not directly related to her hernia, but more likely related to her weight, I did not like the manner in which he lost his patience with her. In fact I felt very bad for the patient because I would not want to be spoken to in that manner. As such, I stayed back after the doctor and I tried to speak with her for a few moments. She discussed some of her problems in more detail, and it did indeed seem that she has some degree of depression. I can't say that I wouldn't feel the same way given similar circumstances. I listened to her for a few moments, and tried my best to reassure her that though at the moment surgery was not an option, that her primary could either give her some help with her frustrations and feelings of emptiness, and if he couldn't he could refer her to someone who could.
Patients like that are challening, saddening, and remind me of why I'm here. I hope I never forget that underneath medical problems are real people.