The amount of incredibly awful and horrific images absorbed by doctors and nurses on a near daily basis is, quite obviously, staggering. No other profession even comes close to being presented with such a volume of strange and, often, terrifying bodily functions as medical professionals. And, somehow, through feats of mental gymnastics, mind-numbing and/or pure acceptance, they take it in stride, offering only small hints of cynicism underneath all of that cuddly bedside manner. It’s really quite impressive when you think about it. Maybe even slightly depressing. In the spirit of medical school-induced apathy, though, let’s go with impressive.
But maybe apathy is the wrong word. After all, doctors (and nurses by extension, one presumes) follow a Hippocratic oath of “do no harm.” Strictly, to the point of damn near dogmatic adherence. Which is good, considering the implications for society if they didn’t. Yet doctors and nurses are human beings like the rest of us, capable of flaw and, unfortunately, psychological exhaustion. But they walk that fine line between human and preternaturally competent superhero, able to heal even the most devastating of conditions. So there’s very little room for them to show anything below the pedestal we’ve erected for them to sit upon. Obviously they have to let off the steam somehow, though. Preferably anonymously, lest someone stumble upon their family doctor coping with the woes of having to deal with idiotic patients and glazing over some days. Here are a few of the more shocking revelations. View at your own risk.
15. A Shower Can’t Hurt
Confession: “As a doctor it seriously bugs me when people don’t take a shower, even when they know they have a prostate exam.”
It seems ridiculous to assume you’ll have to explain to someone that they may want to clean their body before having it inspected, and yet people are routinely ridiculous. This confession cops to a doctor’s disappointment in the lack of hygienic quality that many of his or her patients seem to aspire to, even when they’re getting their, let’s say, deepest cavities checked out. It’s already sort of a boon that, in 2016 and with the long-running advent of modern medicine, doctors still need to go spelunking to assure everything’s in full working order. But they do, and as a courtesy, should you ever need one of these exams one day, you should clean accordingly. Because, let’s face it, it’s not a particularly spotless area inherently. And on a bad day, it’s probably downright vomitous. So be a dear and shower.
14. Saying “Thank You”
Confession: “As a doctor I can’t tell you how incredibly pissed off it makes me when my coworkers and I save your life and instead of thanking us you thank ‘God.'”
Doctors and the divine have an interesting relationship. Mainly because, depending on who you ask, one is trying to thwart the natural order of the other. But the relationship is not always wholly dichotomous and, indeed, many doctors believe themselves to be carrying out the will of God. And who are we to tell them otherwise? But perhaps less acceptable are patients who, when cured by the very practiced and undoubtedly skilled hands of nurses and doctors, turn to their God of choice for thanks rather than the physical embodiment of divine will. Or you know, just very skillful and, unfortunately, thanklessly tired humans. Thanking God is all well and good, if that’s your thing. But maybe there’s enough thanks to go around to share some with the guy who had his hand six inches deep inside your chest to ensure you kept on breathing.
13. They Just Don’t Care
Confession: “I’m a doctor. I am trained to make faces that make it seem like I care, when I really don’t.”
Yikes. But, also, why should anyone care about your rash? Maybe take better care of yourself and your body. And yet, there are so many people with inexplicable or downright life-threatening conditions, deserving of sitting on the medical examination table and being seen by the country’s best and brightest. But therein lies the problem: there are so many. Despite its importance to you, doctors and nurses will see fifty more severe and awful cases by midnight. It’s not that you aren’t important, it’s that no one is, in the grand scheme of things. But we obviously can’t have the psychological trauma that would be induced by a nurse stating, point-blank, “I don’t care about your problems.” No matter how justified, in a cosmic sense, it is. So doctors suck it up and smile for you while you explain to them that your stomach hurts. All the while, she’s glancing at the scalpel, wondering how much pain she can get away with inflicting today under the guise of science.
12. Checks Before Check-Ups
Confession: “I won’t lie, I became a doctor for the money.”
If there are two things everyone knows about doctors, it’s that they have to go to school forever and afterwards they make an assload of cash for the rest of their lives. One seems to be a reward for the other, but there’s a notion among more clueless individuals that all medical degree recipients have a personal calling to go out and help those in need. And, undoubtedly, many doctors and nurses do feel this draw. But it’s ludicrous to presume that just because someone is helping people, it means that it is their primary directive. After all, the aforementioned prostate tickling should be indicative of the less than savory sides of doctoring. So some folks get into it for the pay. Because, why not? It’s tough work and not exactly pleasant even when you are making beaucoup bucks. There needs to be some retaining aspect to the whole thing.
11. Sometimes, They Like What They See
Confession: “I’m a doctor and sometimes I get turned on when I examine an attractive patient.”
This is probably one of those confessions you wish you didn’t know. Too late now, sorry. But it has to be obvious, right? The thin veneer of delusion we come up with every time we strip down in front of our doctors and nurses is astounding. We relegate their consciousness to robotic levels of uncaring and, maybe for many, this is the case. But no matter how many genitals you look at, you are still human at the end of the day and capable of judgement. Often, our fear stems from an idea that our doctors will look at what we’ve got and think “Oh, gross.” But perhaps equally unnerving is a peek that yields a favorable reaction. Because the hope is that your naked body will yield no reaction whatsoever.
10. Letting Go
Confession: “I’m a doctor. Once I told my cancer patient: ‘it’s ok to let go.’ He passed away the next morning.”
On a more serious note, it’s easy to forget that lives are literally placed in the hands of doctors and nurses everyday. And as expertly trained and competent as these men and women are, they still can’t save everyone and sometimes it’s just a matter of time before the inevitable occurs, with no amount of medical know-how capable of changing that outcome. This is something that is, without a doubt, a day 1 lesson for these professionals. It doesn’t lessen the sting of losing a patient any more, though. Especially when you start rolling around all of the different possibilities in your head and how you may have been able to change things. Doctors and nurses are often juggling various patients or symptoms at once and, as much as they’d love to dedicate their all to each and every one of them, choices have to be made and, eventually, lived with.
9. Some Actually Keep Their Promises
Confession: “I’m a nurse. One of my critical patients was worried about his dog and the fact that he didn’t have any family. I promised to go get his dog. He passed away. I still have his dog.”
Not everyone is lucky enough to be surrounded by their loved ones at the eleventh hour. So, in addition to everything else, it falls upon the nurses and doctors attending to these patients to offer some amount of reassurance and, indeed, kindness in their final moments on the planet. And sometimes, considering the impending passing, they confide secrets, revelations and requests to these kind souls who have offered them one last taste of humanity before they leave. That’s a lot to foist upon someone who was thinking about what they might eat for lunch not ten minutes earlier. But of course you can’t expect them to pick a better time when they’re running a little low on that. So they confide, and nurses/doctors accept the role as confidant, however reluctantly at times.
8. Conflict of Interest
Confession: “I’m an ICU nurse. Last night my rapist was my patient. I knew because of the bite mark I left on his penis and the stab wound scar. Police never caught him until tonight. Who owns you now filthy bitch?”
There’s a legend that when Caesar would ride in his chariot in victory parades through Rome, he kept a servant alongside him whose express purpose was to merely whisper in his ear, over and over again: “You are only a man.” This refrain should ring true for you throughout this list, though perhaps for different reasons. The problem with medical care is that it’s rarely anonymous and although there are very stringent laws in place, sometimes that may not be enough to conceal details that may muddy the process. Such is the case with this confession, and while the outcome isn’t mentioned, it’s not hard to assume. This particular conflict presents an interesting philosophical debate and hazards a question of morality. Clearly personal attachment to a patient, whether its good or bad, can result in actions to either the detriment of other patients or this specific one. But shouldn’t doctors or nurses also follow the code of “do no harm” regardless of judgement? Maybe, maybe not. But one thing is certain: that decision is not one made lightly.
7. Be Nice to Nurses
Confession: “I’m a nurse. I once pretended to miss a patient’s vein so I could stick them 3 times due to their bad attitude.”
In the same vein (hahahahaha, sorry) of thought as the previous post, though decidedly more light-heartedly, it’s worth keeping in mind that you are essentially handing over your very vulnerable (and often naked) body to people with sharp objects and fleeting patience. It’s one thing to come unprepared and unbathed, but another thing entirely to arrive with a chip on your shoulder or a nasty attitude. Both could land you in a world of hurt far worse than what you initially anticipated. Because part of a nurse’s job is to cure you of the symptom you arrived with, not necessarily to make sure you leave happy and painless. Indeed, part of the job description is communicating that things are going to hurt, something every child that has received shots knows all too well. Be nice and it may hurt less. But if you’re a dick, you may be given the cold (or perforated) shoulder.
6. Swapping Babies
Confession: “I’m a nurse and I work in the birthing ward. Last week a single mother died after birth. Down the hall a young couple lose their newborn due to complications. I switched the babies.”
Perhaps most tempting at all times for people in the medical profession is to take matters into your own hands and really utilize the full gamut of possibilities that lay before you, laws and accepted decorum be damned. But it’s worth noting that, not only can this be disastrous career-wise, it can have lasting implications beyond the current considered avenues. And while a decision, like the one above, may seem like a brief moment of reprieve and optimism in the sea of fecal matter that is hospital life, it can come back to bite you in the ass down the road. Say, if someone does a blood test years later and realizes their life has been a lie literally since day one and that’s why they have never felt “quite right.” The notion of doing no harm extends beyond just the literal and immediate interpretation. It has no statute of limitations and, indeed, does not belong to merely one patient. It extends to all under the care of those who ascribe to it, and lasts as long as they live. Food for thought.
5. They Talk About Your “Private” Matters
Confession: “I’m a nurse and, yes, we gossip about your private parts.”
Again, not exactly what you want to read if you’re soon to be in the hospital. Or, really, at any time in your life. Because undoubtedly these words will be playing on a live stream in your head, repeatedly for eternity whilst your nurse politely glances between your legs and registers the slightest hint of life behind her eyes and a twitch of the eyebrow. “Oh god”, you’ll think. “There’s something wrong with it.” Not, you know, medically wrong. Just something wrong. Something quite not right. And she should know, of course, because she looks between people’s legs all day, every day. What is so wrong that this particular nether region that invites such a look of contempt. Or maybe amusement? Interest? Neither and none are really welcome in this case and, honestly, you just wish you could go back to pretending that all nurses see genitalia as blurred out, non-sexual organs, as innocuous as hands. Sorry about that.
4. Enough With WebMD
Confession: “If one more person claims that vaccines cause autism, I’m going to lose it. Being a doctor can be incredibly frustrating in the age of Google and WebMD.”
In addition to the armchair generals and congressmen currently running the country in their heads, a disturbing trend in medically inept normals attempting to self-diagnose and, by proxy, exert some amount of unearned confidence about medical conditions they think they have has cropped up all over the world, mainly as a result of Google and WebMD. This medical professional says as much in a highly justified rant about the absurd notion that vaccines cause autism. Despite lack of proof and a general medical consensus on the subject, the odd mention online that appears credible and, most importantly, authoritative, can sometimes be infinitely more convincing than an actual medical doctor or nurse standing in front of you telling you otherwise.
3. Not a Family Affair
Confession: “I’m a nurse. Trust me when I say we hate your family members.”
It’s easy to forget that, as much as we may like our rowdy and rambunctious family that totally deserves a sitcom of its own (spoiler alert: every family thinks this), others may not. Particularly others who may be working with complicated machinery and medical knowledge attempting to put you back together and free up the bed you’re currently occupying. But somehow, still, patients manage to clog up hospital hallways and exam rooms with everyone from sisters to fathers to twice-removed cousins, all there to root for you, but regardless, still annoying to people doing the heavy-lifting, as it were. That’s not to say that a healthy dose of family time isn’t welcome after being poked and prodded by sterilized needles and cold metallic clamps all day. But it should be limited and, most importantly, respectful to your would-be saviors, desperately trying to save your life or, at the very least, your well-being.
2. They Can’t Handle It
Confession: “Working in a psychiatric hospital is taking such a negative toll on me. I don’t know if I can handle it.”
These are words that, while inevitable, you never necessarily want to see written out. Certainly not spoken. The idea of not being able to “handle it” is a luxury patients usually reserve for themselves and deny their medical care providers, primarily for the purpose of maintaining the level of mental comfort you assume upon entering a hospital. Doctors and nurses aren’t just expected to keep it together. They have to, or else who will? Even the most powerful of men and women, presidents and kings, rely at one point or another on their doctors for assurance and peace of mind. In essence, much of the power in the world passes under the noses of scared shitless med school graduates, regardless of actual internal screaming. Which, as uncomfortable as it may be, is worth noting. Because it may help you communicate yourself to them without the added stress of your insistence that they cannot screw it up, even if they really can’t. If only for psychological assurance, it may even save your life.
1. Falling in Line
Confession: “I work at a mental health hospital but don’t agree with it.”
Certainly having your own opinions should be celebrated. And even in a setting where you’re expected to follow orders for the sake of ensuring the smooth sailing of a life-saving operation, occasionally voicing your concerns can be helpful, if not downright life-saving in their own right. But there’s a line between helpful and harmful dissent and if you can’t tell which side you’re on, it might be best to avoid it entirely. This isn’t to say that silence is preferable, but disagreeing with an operation does not always mean sabotaging it. In fact, sometimes you have to work within the confines of the system you’re employed by, regardless of how you may feel, because it is ultimately the right thing to do. Because, when it comes to hospitals, everything happening is bigger than you 24/7. People aren’t beholden to you, but rather to an entire operation working as a single-minded team. Breaking this chain and operating of your own volition, while seemingly right, can result in something very wrong.
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