One of the best parts of my job is coming to know the families I care for. It sounds trite. It’s true. Over the few years in practice, they have come to know my style, I suppose. I’m direct. I don’t want families to have to guess what I’m thinking. I share stories (both the mess-ups and successes) of raising my own kids. I can be self-deprecating at times if I think it’s important and true. Like I said yesterday, it’s hard to do this parenting thing, and hard to do it well and feel glamorously successful all the time. We don’t get a lot of thank-yous from our own children for the labors of providing safety, a roof, food, humor etc. But we do get them. Reward enough, of course.
Maybe what I’m trying to say is that some of my patients feel comfortable with me.They tell me what they really think about me, too. That makes sense. Often we are discussing things that make them feel vulnerable or things that scare them silly. Or I’m examining their child who my staff asked to get completely undressed before I walked in the room. It’s a structured intimacy, doing medicine. All the white coats, fluorescent lights in the room, badges, diplomas and formalities sometimes don’t alter that reality. Doctoring is often an intimate encounter.
Last week though, I noticed people are getting really comfortable. Maybe too comfortable?
It started with this:
Mom of a 12 year old:
“Those boots make your feet look really, really long. I mean, I thought we had big feet in our family.”
And then, yesterday afternoon, a high and tight fastball, travelling at about 95 mph brushed me back. It arrived without warning. I was settling into the stool, at the computer, talking to the father of a 3 year-old. He had brought his child in for a check-up and I hadn’t seen them since the 18-month check up. (I missed the 2-year check up because I was on maternity leave).
Dad of a 3 year-old:
“Well, last time I saw you, you had gained a lot of weight.” He then continues, as if to make it better, “Yah, you’ve lost it all now, but you sure had gained weight.”
Mind you, this was because at his child’s 18-month check-up, I was 7 months pregnant. Can I use an exclamation point here? !!
My feet are big; I made a baby. A little deep swallow. And then the realization that yes, I think my patients are starting to feel comfortable with me.
*the photo is a pic of the painting hanging outside F&O’s bedroom. It’s a reproduction of Daniel Kessler’s original baseball painting.