I’m sorry sir, but you’re fucking annoying

December 12, 2010 § 1 Comment

Some patients can be extraordinarily irritating. Some are easier to tolerate than others: it’s easy to put up your professional barriers towards  a patient swearing at you or who regards you as an irritation. Far harder are those that aren’t trying to annoy you – the garrulous but well-meaning patient wastes you oh-so-valuable time.

A recent case:

GP placement, late morning. I’ve been observing another student try and take a history from the same man for forty-five minutes. I doubt I would have done any better at fighting through the free-associating detours and distractions. He varied from lecture, to anecdotes, to slideshow (he brought photographs of his various collections of computers and cars to show to us).

Both my GP and colleague seemed to enjoy his company (“It was a real privilege to talk to him”). I did not. I spent most of my time concentrating on trying not to give somatic cues to my frustration, to not betray my growing urge for him to just shut up, and I doubt I entirely succeeded – I noticed myself coiling up my fists more than sometimes. Why was I so pissed, when my colleagues were so sanguine?

I suffer chronically from a hyperactive cringe gland. Any deviation from social etiquette puts me on edge, especially the embarrassing and the bathetic. I have exceptionally low tolerance for people saying something stupid or awkward.

It’s a fairly long-standing trait, and I don’t think it is one I can easily shake off. So how can I deal with situations like the one above? Perhaps preventions is better than cure. If I am finding myself feeling frankly embarrassed or seething, that’s a sign the consultation isn’t going to plan. Perhaps when in control of these interviews myself, I can gently interrupt to guide the patient back to the matter at hand.

Yet other times I won’t have that option. I need to learn better how to at least put on a show of being at ease. The gentlemen I met could not have been nicer, and deserved better than my contempt. Would that I learn to do otherwise.

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§ One Response to I’m sorry sir, but you’re fucking annoying

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