Tuesday, November 13, 2007

In the company of men

I have been thinking about my RE's nurse, the one who I apparently upset by getting upset. One of the things Dr.YoungGun said when he called, that I noted but let go at the moment because I clearly had bigger fish to fry right then was something to the effect of "well, you are upset, and now she is upset, and you have to understand that might impact your care." Again, not vouching for this being a direct quote, but this was definitely the meaning I took from it-- that she may choose to treat me differently, worse, not to put too fine a point on it, that, perhaps, I might find my phone call returned late, or that the next time I am in, the exam table might just end up covered with fine sandpaper, and that he would find those things understandable. I noted at the time that it was a weird thing for him to say, to almost announce that they are putting in a separate entrance for the troublemakers, and that I should be a dear and use it from now on.

I emailed the nurse today to say I was sorry I upset her. Not because I am afraid of sandpaper, mind you, but because I figured everyone is entitled to have a bad day. And, if I am completely honest, because we are coming up on the weeks when we get various fun and exciting tests done again, and I would like the results of those before the 22nd century, thank you.

It is funny to me, though, that Dr.YoungGun even mentioned it, that he apparently considers it ok and inescapable that one's feelings for a patient might impact how that patient is treated. It seems to me you would at least try to be fair, to put your personal feelings aside because, dude, these are people you are dealing with here. A couple of years ago I had a student who I was sure cheated on an exam. I couldn't do anything about it because I didn't have any proof. Worst of all? The student wanted additional help. Came to my office hours, and even emailed to ask me to set up more meetings. I remember thinking that I would crack and go postal on the student. I remember my colleague and mentor telling me that there was nothing I could do-- when the student shows up for extra help, you treat that student like any other. Wasn't sure I could pull it off. But I did. The student, btw, cheated again on a later exam, and that time we caught her.

So show me your scars-- do you have to deal with unpleasant people? Do you think that what you think of them affects how you treat them?


niobe said...

I pretty much only deal with unpleasant people. But some are more unpleasant than others.

Beruriah said...

Well, currently I have to deal with an annoying person but she has too much power for me to really act on my annoyance. Hence my decision to take a little break until the baby arrives. Avoidance.

Teaching though, is a good example of a situation where you have to put your feelings aside, look at the whole story, and just suck it up around a lot of unpleasantness. I don't have space for whole narratives, but one story sticks out especially. Long story short, he was a star athlete, at the U on a scholarship. I discovered he couldn't actually read at anywhere near a college level. I spent hours and hours trying to help the kid at least pass my class. He lied to me and the professor, though, at a certain point to gain extra time/points on something, by telling us he had leukemia. I was angry when I learned the truth, but calmly explained that I understood he was overwhelmed, and I'd be glad to help him find whatever university resources were available to help him, but that he'd really compromised my trust by lying. The professor really freaked out on him, yelling loudly at him in the hallway one day after class. The kid then lied about me, saying I'd refused to give him any help. I was furious, but realized it had nothing really to do with me. The prof wanted to take disciplinary action, but he was a first semester freshman, clearly in over his head and clearly exploited by the athletic culture of this place. I argued for him once again and he failed the class but got to stay in the university. The kid had some integrity though, because he was really grateful towards me in the end and was always friendly when we saw each other on campus. I had him again later in a class, he still performed crappily but could manage enough to pass, and I definitely successfully pulled off not holding the earlier experience against him.

I think it's RIDICULOUS for Dr. YoungGun to have inferred, or for his nurse to think it's acceptable, to change how they treat you based on that silly conversation. When you were justifiably upset and an advocate for yourself.

ms. G said...

I was just talking about this. How I would like to be more assertive with the nurses, but I don't want to worry about making a bad relationship with them. The old "please don't spit in my food now" fear.

I do find it somewhat unprofessional that Dr. YG would mention that. She can hate you all she wants, but she still has to do her job, correctly and professionally.

However, having said that, I have worked in many jobs with demanding people. I think I tend to *hurry* them more, just in the sense that I don't want to spend more time with them than I have to, but I don't think they get less service. In fact, sometimes they get more because they are asking for things, and I am in a hurry to get them out of there, so I do it.

This is a tough one for me. I am always one of the *nice* ones, that people like, but it hardly ever gets me anywhere. This pregnancy especially I've struggled with this.

Personally, you had every right to get annoyed with her, and every right to demand what you need, but, there is nothing wrong with throwing a little honey her way later to keep the relationship smooth.

Aurelia said...

This is very very unprofessional.

Both the Doctor and the nurse said the wrong thing, and you really need to let them know. People in fertility clinics regularly deal with upset, angry, sad, grieving people. It's part of the job and if she thinks that you will be the last person to get upset with her, she's a fool.

And he doesn't have the right to say that. Threatening a patient with refusal of treatment is unethical. If she feels that way, then he should fire her.

They are supposed to treat the patient in front of them to the best of their ability. No doctor or nurse can ever refuse.

Honestly, it's true. I think you should call him back and make it clear that you expect the best treatment possible or else. He had no right to do that to you.

Beth said...

I haven't been able to pick up my jaw. He said what?! What kind of passive-aggressive sh*t is that?!

It is every shade of inappropriate and unprofessional.

Wow. I'm really sorry.

Anonymous said...

I am surprised by your doctor and the nurse.

To answer your question, I do deal with unpleasant people and sometimes, my feelings do have an effect on how I treat them.

slouching mom said...

i have to say that i think it's human nature. but most people realize the inappropriateness of the reaction, so contain it, UNLIKE your doctor.

Julia said...

Thank you all for your righteous indignation. I thought about it all day today, and I think this is how Dr YoungGun's inexperience is showing. He is apparently a very hot shot medically, and his practice is growing by leaps and bounds, but I came to think that he doesn't yet feel the pain infertility causes in his bones. He is very loyal to his staff, and he said so directly. The part he doesn't appreciate yet, I think, is how infertiles tend to feel about time. And the part where he seems to think that human nature might lead to sub-par treatment for those who upset his staff, but not to an infertile getting upset at unforeseen delays, presented ever so cheerfully, seems like it has the very same root cause.

Anyway, she emailed me back today. Said she appreciated it. I would've liked a more thoughtful response, but whatever. As long as I end up knocked up, I can deal with it.

kate said...

ummm yeah. Like some of my idiot students. I got lots of good stories. Usually i overcompensate with kindness to make sure that my real feelings don't show. Which actually works because you are essentially giving people enough rope to hang themselves with...

In your case i *do* think the dr. was very unprofessional vbut your diagnosis of his mental state is probably accurate. And it was good of you to email to apologize...never hurts.

Linda said...

I'm a nurse in a medical ICU. I deal with obnoxious people a lot. I think some of them are annoying because they're in a very stressful situation and some of them are just jerks. I doubt that I treat everyone the same, but I try very hard to treat everyone respectfully, even the ones who are verbally abusive. I will say, however, that it's easier to be extra-special nice to the nice ones.

I think your RE and his nurse are behaving unprofessionally.

thrice said...

OMG, Is Dr. Young Guns getting blown by the nurse or something???

And, yes, I deal with unpleasant people ALL the time.