The Time My Doctor Swore During an Appointment


I was at my GI appointment. I hadn’t seen my gastroenterologist in far too long, because of insurance issues, and I had dreaded the appointment. The 15 minutes of waiting past when my appointment was scheduled didn’t help, either. It was just a long enough wait that I texted one of my friends, “Definitely wishing I had canceled this appointment.”

And then my doctor came out to the waiting room and called me in. We immediately hugged, and I felt a little more at ease. We went back into the exam room, caught up on what’s going on in our lives, and then got down to business.

We eventually got to talking about my neurologist’s approach. She asked me what neuro was doing, and then I mentioned they were concerned about their ability to continue along the path we were on — the only path that seems to work for pain management — because of increased scar tissue and a decreased ability to do the procedure easily.

She immediately, without any thought, responded with, “Well, sh*t.”

We both sat there for a few seconds in silence, and then she apologized for her language. But it was probably the best thing I’ve ever heard come from a doctor’s mouth.

When you spend a lot of time interacting with medical professionals, it’s so easy to feel like just a medical record number, or to feel like your doctors are just doing what they’re trained to do, and that they only do it because it’s their job. It’s easy to become tired of the appointments, to feel like doctors are just doing a job and that they couldn’t care less. I’ve certainly been there.

But in that moment, I was reminded that doctors are real people, too. I felt true, genuine, raw emotion coming from her. I felt a shared frustration that we’re just treating symptoms, and not looking further. I felt how helpless she felt about not being able to do more. And most importantly, I felt that she genuinely cared. Not just about my GI system, but about me as a person.

And in an instant, I went from regretting driving into Boston in morning rush hour to feeling like it was the best decision I’ve made all year. I regained my trust in doctors. And, for the first time in forever, I felt like I had someone who was truly on my side.

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