Monday, November 26, 2012

Dumb. And Dumber...

The ENT doc I'm with always tells patients with hearing loss that it makes them look "less smart" than they really are, "if fact," he says, "it makes you look dumb." It's his way of encouraging them to consider hearing aids, I think. And to sympathize with their frustrations.

Well, I wonder if I look dumb, standing in the exam room watching doctor-patient encounters. Because sometimes that's exactly how I feel.

Every once in a while, maybe more like every once in day, I feel especially dumb. I wonder why didn't I think to ask that question or look at that part of the exam or think of that diagnosis. I need to have "hindsight is 20/20" tattooed visibly somewhere on my body. Today was a day I asked those questions to myself more times than I care to remember and that always leads to the thought, I'm never going to be any good at this.

I realize the irrationality embedded within that statement. But, for a split second it's really what I think.

It's hard to be patient when I spend all day with a brilliant doc who has been practicing medicine for the better part of my existence. Comparing my abilities to his is an easy trap to fall into during just about every patient encounter. Plus, he makes what he does so easy, so easy.

Someday. Someday I'll read this and be thankful I'm not a student anymore. I don't like feeling useless. I like having jobs I feel competent doing and helpful completing. I'm pretty sure when I asked if there was anything I could do to help during a procedure today he handed me a band-aid to entertain my helplessness.

I'm learning it's a hard thing to be taught. It's far easier and more comfortable for me to be the teacher.

I'm also learning that as soon as I think I have figured out how to handle a particular situation, I'm usually missing something. Not hard things. But things I thought I wouldn't forget to do when interviewing, examining, or diagnosing patients. If they were hard things I was missing, maybe I'd be easier on myself. Maybe. Maybe not.

Pride comes before the fall. And the fall is never very much fun.

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