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.


Anonymous said...

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Richard said...

You write here about a patient having marital issues because of his medical problems.

Just wanted to let you know about the Well Spouse™ Association, http://wellspouse.org, a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization that offer peer emotional support to husbands, wives or partners of people with chronic illness and/or disability.

Chronic illness can be responsible for a lot of marital discord, and roughly 80% of the marriages where it strikes end up in divorce courts.

Kirsten said...

I have a hard time with that as well. I'm currently working as a care aid in a long-term care facility and it drives me crazy wanting to know more about people...people with dementia who are so unbelievably sweet and tiny, and their daughter comes in and calls them fat and useless or you find out they used to be heroin-addicted psychiatric researchers. I would do so much to learn more about peoples' real lives, but alas, am restricted to knowing only what's in their medical charts or what their children tell us!