Have you sat at your holiday table just to be bombarded by medical questions? Have you ever been surprised and shocked at the questions (and number of questions) you were asked? We feel your pain. It may help to know you are not alone in being asked to give advice about random rashes, explain why healthcare is so expensive, or field accusations that you “don’t know everything anyway”. Here are some examples of what your colleagues suffered over the holidays at the hands of their relatives.
The Painful Know-It-All
“My cousin had a baby, baby has had recurring skin/mucosal infections. Notably cutaneous TB, very bizarre. Labs show extremely low IgA. When said cousin wasn’t around, a relative starts talking to me about this:”
Relative: “How do they know it’s not something serious like leukemia?”
Me: “They did blood tests, and those didn’t suggest leukemia in any way. Cousin sent me the labs to look at for my own curiosity a few weeks ago. Looks like a genetic immune system thing.”
Relative: “You can’t say someone has leukemia from just a blood test, because so-and-so had it and the doctors did a lot more tests before diagnosing them.”
Me: “Yeah, but you can rule out leukemia or say it’s really unlikely from a blood test.”
Relative: “I really don’t think that’s true and you should review your books. My concern is that the doctors aren’t taking this seriously and will miss his leukemia.”
Me: “Is there more Keystone in the cooler?”
They later made a snide comment about how I was going to get someone killed because I needed to “review my books.”
When Any Doctor Will Do
“I get asked about anything that appears on the skin of any of my family members. They’re almost always mosquito bites or contact dermatitis but I’m apparently the only doctor in the galaxy who can reassure these poor souls that it isn’t skin cancer or herpes. (I’m a Psychiatrist)”
“Best question I was ever asked was back in year one when my mom asked me why the cat got this limp.”
And the winner is…
This poor person suffered all of these questions and comments, from one family.
- “Do radiologists get an MD? How come you don’t want to be a real doctor like a surgeon?” – From family members who have known I’ve been working towards an MD for 3.5 years now.
- “That Dr. Oz guy is really good you should check him out. I tape his show.”
- “Why do doctors keep telling me to get a flu vaccine? It’s just going to make me sick!”
- “All the doctors are in bed with the pharmaceuticals industry. People just need diet and exercise, and they would never need any pills.” – From an obese family member
- “I always do my BMI and it says I’m overweight. But I’m not overweight! Why do you guys still use BMI when it’s broken?” – From a heavyset in-law
- “I read an article in the news that said there’s no such thing as good and bad cholesterol. I can eat all the potato chips I want. Cholesterol is just a genetic problem.”
“I tried my best to correct whatever misinformation I could, but some of it was so off base I had absolutely no hope.”
It may take more intestinal fortitude to get through a family holiday meal than night rotations. Hang in there. You can either develop pat answers to satisfy annoying relatives or ridiculous answers to make them walk away, because the bottom line is that you are never going to convince them you know what you are doing.