Just a snapshot

One of the truly frustrating things about being a doctor is that it's hard to really understand someone's life. We only get to see little glimpses into a patient's life, like looking at a single frame of a movie and trying to tell its plot.

I had this experience recently with a patient. He is smart, pleasant, has a good job, and attractive (I'm not gay, but in my humble assessment). And he is single. I feel like if he is single, what are my chances? He has every advantage over me in the dating world, and he's striking out. Is he a jerk at home? Is there something else there?

I had another patient who is having marital issues because of his medical problems, and I don't get it. I found him to be really pleasant and engaging. I can't believe someone like him would have relationship issues over medical things.

It's tough to understand these situations, and I am picking relationship stuff because it's relevant to me, but I have no doubts that there are answers. It's just that I don't have them, and it's not my place to ask. But it's unsatisfying to go home and know that there is a whole side of a patient's life that I don't know and probably never will.