Doctors do ghastly things to patients. That's a fact. Not intentionally, at least not maliciously, of course. But in our evaluation and treatment of patients, we strip off all fabrics of privacy and modesty. We ask them personal, intimate questions. About their sex lives. Drug use. We try to do it nonchalantly to not embarass or guilt them.
And then, there are the procedures. We stick fingers into orifices. Places that have never seen light of day. Needles into body cavities or organs. Catheters, tubes and endoscopes into lumens. We inject, aspirate, incise, excise, ablate, suture.
I thought about this when the patient whose thyroid we biopsied jokingly said that yesterday:
"Doctors do ghastly things."
Who can blame her? We talk in some foreign language, muttering 'nodule' and 'tai-roid'. We then lay them on a cold uncomfortable bed, with the pillow intentionally placed too low that it hurts your neck to extend. Then rub some cold goob that looks like it came from someone's runny nose (ultrasound gel). Then tell you to not talk, push a hard probe on your neck and proceed to stick your neck with a 25 G needle at least six times, while 'rolling' it between your fingers, sometimes even using a 'gun' to aspirate. Geez. The lady was a real trooper though. And even said I was cute (a compliment is a compliment, even from a short-sighted 65 year old; I'm keeping this one!).
Personally, the thing that scares the shit out of me is eye surgery. Be it Lasik, keratoplasty, vitrectomy, blepharoplasty or just foreign body removal. Call me a wimp, but the thought of someone messing around with my eyeball, with my eyes wide open, and being able to see it, unnerves me like a hyperactive kid in an antique china store. And I'm sure the surgeons are skilled, but what if someone slips? I'm not a surgeon and haven't the foggiest idea what would happen; but would the eyeball pop? Gooey liquid streaming down the face? (I'm sure the vitreous humour isn't like so, but that's how it is in my nightmares)
Next up on my list, a spinal tap. Now, I'm sure it doesn't hurt as much as a bone marrow biopsy (have seen patients soil themselves getting that one), but having performed many in my residency, the thought of someone else sticking a needle longer than a pen into my back, working it's way between the bones (and often scraping them) into the sac that contains the cord, while you're lying in a fetal position, helpless and unable to punch out that sucker hurting you, makes this my 2nd greatest fear.
In the scheme of things, I'm sure there are scarier, more invasive and painful procedures doctors do. But really, I think I'd rather have my nuts under a sledgehammer than voluntarily undergo those two procedures (though I hope I never do).