This post is dedicated to Dr. HC, whom I met at on a late weeknight
As the caregiver of a bipolar person, you’re probably well-used to dealing with physicians, shrinks, nurses, social workers and medical clerks.
Very little of what you know applies to physicians in emergency departments at night.
People during daylight hours, on regular shifts, are generally civil but as the person for whom you are caring ages, in addition to all of the other joys of being a bipolar care giver, you’ll have to deal with geriatric falls, broken toes as things get dropped, kitchen accidents and unnamed tremors and arthritis-related accidents. The times that these occur can often lead to nighttime visits to the fibreglass chairs of your local hospital.
This can be a real shock if you’re dealing with regular GPs, specialists, or sports doctors, to suddenly be bullied by some asshole at two o’clock in the morning because you made the mistake of mis-using medical term. I suspect it’s because if I was dealing with a largely obese and illiterate public, and forced to wear a polyester jacket and a name tag past the Witching Hour, I’d be a little miffed too, particularly when I have to deal with a public that didn’t get past basic math and gets its science education from police shows.
1.Never speak in declaratives
Doctors earn a few hundred grand a year and have weak egos as a consequence. Begin by telling what a poor idiot you are and how wonderful their poop must smell. ‘Look, I didn’t go to medical school, I do [INSERT YOUR JOB] and I’m sure you’re sick of having to explain what seems obvious to you but..’
Let’s say you mistake one technical term for another, and the doctor jumps down your throat over it. You may get an exchange like this:
‘Why would you want that?’ This may come quickly and aggressively as the physician tries to assert dominance. ‘You said [WRONG TERM], and I want to know why that’s your recommendation.’ The doctor is choosing to hear your question as a statement, and therefore a challenge to her or his authority. Take a deep breath and ensure what is heard is a question. I may be wrong here and am willing to be corrected, but I’d bet this happens generally when a mid-career doctor is in front of a younger doctor. (Opinions, anyone?)
To summarize: slow down the conversation. It’s great if you’re next to one of those ‘No verbal violence in the workplace’ posters that are all over hospitals.
2. Act like a moron
Explain that as a member of the public, you’re clearly an imbecile, and get the conversion back on track.
- Try to be funny: ‘I suffer from medical condition called moronitis. So, if we could just go over that again…’ You may not be up to it in a sleep-deprived state bit it usually makes it difficult for your interlocutor to be aggressive in response.
- Be blunt, but a blunt moron: Say you asked a question, and ‘If it was the wrong question, so be it, tell me what the right question is, after all, I didn’t do seven years of post grad in medicine’ You’ve appealed the doctor’s status, and apologized for breathing.
- If cuntishness continues: Say ‘I realize this is time consuming…’ then insert the doctor’s name as you read it off the name tag. That last bit can backfire if you lack confidence.
Again, I suspect that cuntishness comes from impatience and the inconvenience from the doctor’s point of view, because of the inherently unstructured accident and casualty environment when nuanced decisions need to be made quickly and they are dealing with a public educated in medical matters from soap operas and prime time dramas. What do I know: I’m a technocrat. Look, you will never have to see this villain again. Your job as the burned out caregiver of a bipolar parent is to get the info you need and get you and your bipolar parent back to sleep.
I can attest from personal experience that ‘Don’t get angry with me, I’m not the one who chose to work here’ doesn’t work as an answer. Or it didn’t with Dr HC.