# 1: Patient's wife: "You have very good bedside manners. Don't ever lose them", and then she smiled at me.
# 2: My patient whom I had followed since his first diagnosis, completing his 5th cycle of chemotherapy, who is a little rough on the edges and very loud (lol) but I heart him regardless. He reminds me of a gentle giant. After I was done with examining him- "Hey you (he calls me), you know what?" - to which I respond "No, what?" - then he exclaims "You are a good doctor, you know that?". I looked over to his wife, and I laughed. I laughed because of the tone he said it in, which was not subtle at all and was very direct (as-a-matter-of-fact tone), but so full of good intention. Then, I said to him "you made my morning!" Then, he laughed too :)
#3: My old male patient I believe is in his 80s - also really loud in terms of his voice projection for which my boss warned me before I stepped into the room "Sueyi, be careful." I asked "Why?"
- then he said "Cos they're loud". I laughed and said "I'm loud too!" So then, after I finished up my history and physical, and my attending had come in with me, he kept on calling me "nurse"- then after he called me "nurse" the 3rd time, his sister finally corrected him out of frustration (haha! I thought it was funny how she was frustrated for me :)) - She shouted "She's a DOCTOR!"
Then, he looked at me, "Oh, oh, I'm so sorry, dear!". I laughed, "it's ok!"
-so yes. I always, always get mistaken for a nurse, or an intern. AND I'm already a fellow, for goodness' sake!-
Regardless of whether I have my glasses on OR off, I always get mistaken for being more junior, but that does not irk me at all- cos I am younger- but my trick is to pull off my "good Asian genes" excuse ;) :)
The other day, my 60-some year old female patient asked me, as soon as I stepped into the room for a new consultation- "How old are you??"
I was taken aback at first, because I had only taken 2 steps into the room, and as soon as the door was shut, that question was directed to me. She persisted twice more. I then laughed at her determination to find out. The laughter did not distract her, unfortunately. I said "I don't tell my patients my age". She said 'Well, I am 68, so you can tell me your age now." I relented and said "I'm in my late 20s" (a bit of a white lie) Then she went "Ooooh, you look so good for your age". The Asian excuse did not really impress her. Then, I said it's my petite size, that's why I always look young. She said "No" and gave me a really funny response. My memory fails me now, for some reason. Then, I caved in when she wouldn't stop about my skin, my complexion etc... and so I finally said "Well, ok, I am in my mid 20s".
Then - she had one more say before we could focus on the important stuff. She said "Well, you look like you got it, girl". I had no clue what that meant, but she really did entertain me that day!
-Yes, I love clinic. Actually I love bonding with my patients. Each and every one of them - they're all so different, in how they view life, how they react to their disease, how they reach out to you whether consciously or not, or how they hold back- each and every one of them have their own unique stories and unique ways of dealing with their diagnoses and with life- and I find fulfillment, in learning from their stories and sharing their experiences, and even more- when I am able to help them or provide support in any way I can, from any one brief conversation that I share with my patients.
I truly heart my field. You know how people say oncology is too "touchy-feely" emotionally - I don't think that's necessarily true, but it is emotional, of course it is!! because having cancer brings with it a whole bag of emotions. So I think what we do, is truly special, truly different- because no one can do a good job in oncology if they are not able to empathize and feel. That's where I think, we oncologists are a pretty darn special group of people, with a skill set that no one else has. We touch hearts, and are truly able to make a difference in that sense.
Lots of love,