I visited the friendly neighborhood primary care doc recently. First the vital signs, where the nurse reminds me that “if it comes out of a can, a jar, a cellophane wrapper, or a fast-food restaurant, odds are it contains a high level of salt; an issue for someone with a slightly elevated BP.”
I sigh, knowing she’s right, but thinkingly longingly of some favored food that fits into one or more of those categories.
These routine visits always bring a myriad of conflicting emotions. My internist is a funny, friendly, bright woman, so I look forward to our little chats. But as I wait my turn, another part of me is six years old. A nervous little girl, sitting with her feet dangling from the high examining room table, wondering if she’s about to be scolded for some bad behavior or other.
As I sit there I wonder how a physician goes about deciding the best way to handle a patient with life-style issues. When to soothe, when to “spank”, when to simply ignore. I can’t imagine the challenge of figuring that out ten or twenty times a day for a myriad of patients and personalities. Once again I’m grateful for physicians, and grateful that I’m not one of them.
“What if I tell my patient that he needs to start x-y-z and he storms out angrily, shouting that he’s going straight to administration? What if I remind this one that she hasn’t followed through with something I instructed her to do last time and she bursts into tears, pouring out all the reasons she can’t possibly comply? What if she simply gets discouraged and gives up, never to return?”
Talk about stress!
Traditionally my internist has been a bit of a soother. During my most recent visit she apparently decided that soothing wasn’t working to her satisfaction. I walked out with a stack of instructions and a return-visit deadline for compliance. The iron fist in the velvet glove approach.
So long salt shaker, it was fun while it lasted.