Friday, April 21, 2006

On being a doctor

The bad thing about being in medicine, is everyone treats you like their personal physician.
This started literally 2 months into medical school, back in 1996, when I was this clueless greenhorn 1st year medic still trying to properly spell 'brachioradialis', and was still pronouncing papilloedema 'pap-e-loh-ee-de-mah'.

"Hey, your aunt ABC has this spot on her big toe; why don't you take a look at it?"
Like I was a bloody dermatologist then.
Or, when I was going through customs in KLIA in 1999 during my annual vacation. This idiot Encik asked me what I studied, and I told him, and he started telling me the 2 million symptoms his father was experiencing and wondered what that might be. My family was impatiently waiting outside, and they could see me peering at them. I think dad must have thought that I was caught smuggling Playboy magazines into Malaysia.

I mean, come on, I know we're friends, but what makes you think I really wanted to see if that lumpy goomba sticking out of your ass is a hemorrhoid? Sometimes you really don't want to know your friends THAT well (I still can't look that guy in the eye without seeing his anus. And when he winks, I just burst out laughing thinking about the anal 'wink' reflex!)

These days, I'm getting consults via MSN or phone, about weight loss, pregnancy, ejaculation, babies, coughs, colds, Pap smears, cancers, diabetes, chest pain, you name it.
I still get phonecalls at 5 a.m. asking me if they need to see a doctor for their cough.
And not too long ago, a blog reader was shitting in her skirt because she thought she might be pregnant (next time, use a condom. The withdrawal method doesn't work)
And the other day, someone else asked me if there was a 'quick, safe & effective way to lose weight'? Yea. I told her to stop eating.
Or that midnight call I got a few weeks ago, when a friend's friend called concerned about her chest pain (if you're reading this, my bill's one its way ).
So, if you ever have the desire to call me at weird hours, remember, I charge US$390 for an initial consult. And no, I don't take personal cheques.


Blogger dobbs said...

Common occupational hazard - although you seem to be getting it worse than most. I guess sometimes you need to learn to say "no" when people are so inconsiderate -- a 5am phone call to ask about a cough is just too much. Perhaps you can say that it's not ethical to give medical advice online! ;)

12:43 AM  
Blogger piffles said...

i know wat you mean. i've got friends calling me just to ask me trivial stuff, just cos it touches a bit on the legal stuff. aiyo. simple stuff like receiving a letter of demand, pay your debt in full or arrange for an installment plan la. bleh. i must hold their hands at the same time, is it. ;P

6:55 AM  
Anonymous tkn said...

Haha. Same thing here though i'm just a first year student. There was once a colleague of my mom asked me the reason why his son keep having intermittent fever when all the doctors they saw could not find out the cause despite a few tests had been carried out. Absolutely ridiculous! How on earth would i know the cause if all those qualified doctors did not know themselves?!

8:09 AM  
Blogger Robin said...

It's the same for nurses. I get phone calls from certain family members only when they have a medical question. Oy.

5:44 PM  
Blogger vagus said...

yea, i say we take their credit card details at the start of the phone call!
20 bucks a minute.

10:25 PM  
Blogger Fay said...

Well, put it this way, there are not many friends you know that will made a doctor, so when there is (whether you are really friends or plain acquaintance) chances are, we tend to ask. Human nature I suppose? =)

8:22 AM  
Blogger vagus said...

i dunno, fay, maybe it's because of my job... but almost all the friends i have are doctors. hahaha.

8:55 AM  
Blogger YeePei said...

Yupz, like dobbs says, it's an occupational hazard, one that comes with the med school offer letter. When I say "I don't know", I get a look that make me feel like I am really dumb and should drop out of the course immediately, followed by "But you're going to be a doctor!"

Precisely..."going to be" !!!

Then there's the rare health-related question that I can answer, but that'll be met by "You sure??? Eh, you're only a student leh..."


12:37 PM  
Blogger A Fellow Traveler said...

hahahaha i know wht u mean ... happened to me too ..... as if i know anything hahahaha

8:19 PM  
Blogger IML said...

On the positive side, at least you know that you are so indispensible. Everyone wants to be your friend.

9:38 PM  
Blogger PaulOS said...

but hmm.. i got this weird call the other day on the phone.. from someone.. who's concerned about my conditions.. :P

it was indeed a treat to get a call from a doctor from overseas to check up on you.. hehhehehe. thanks dude..

11:00 PM  
Blogger titoki said...

It's the same like IT Professional being harassed by IT n00bs! ;p

12:50 AM  
Blogger Thoughts on my Journey said...

Aiya... i was planning to ask you a medical related question for my aunt XYZ(just kidding). It happens in many professional type of careers. Just seek consolation that at least people find you "useful"/thinks you are knowledgeable and trustworthy.

In my case, ppl ask me what company's shares to buy or possible movements of interest rate and etc... do they really trust me to make them richer??

2:00 AM  
Blogger WMD: Wife, Mother, Daughter said...

It caught me by surprise when my sons' paed gave me his handphone no and asks me to call if my son's condition change. In some way, it meant a lot as either he trusts that I will not misuse it and/or he is truly concerned with my son's condition.

8:36 AM  
Blogger cissy~~~BLooSom plz!!! said...

i taught papilloedema is pronounced just as what u wrote...
well, look at it as a bonus...
if a super gorgeous gurl came up to u to ask u those trivial questions...
haha... think at the bright side..

11:56 AM  
Blogger vagus said...

Cissy: it's pronounced pailledema.
The O is there only because in England edema is spelt oedema.

9:07 PM  
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