Today is Sunday, August 20, 2017

Conversation starters

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Even though there seems to be less of it every week, I still enjoy my work. I like taking care of my patients, and I enjoy getting to visit with them as we go about prescribing the right medicine. When I visit foreign countries, I have trouble trying to converse with my patients because in Spanish the words for "How are you?" are interpreted by the patient as "What's wrong with you?" and the patient would immediately launch into their medical problem. To get around this I instead started asking the women how many children they had and the men what kind of work they did.

In the U.S.A., it is a little easier to get people talking about themselves and not their medical problem. I like to start out with the question, "What are you doing for fun lately?" But too many people respond with the comeback that they don't have time for anything but work. It seems such an irony that the high technology we want to free up our lives costs so much that we work long hours to get it. I think that many times the modern conveniences are not always that convenient when everything is accounted for that goes into acquiring them.

The thing that almost all the men don't mind talking about is mowing the grass. Just starting out with the question, "Did you cut the grass yet this week?" brings out the mechanical and technical side of the male clientele. With that question, the acreage involved and type of machine can be dissected in fine detail. The grass control problem looks to be pretty universal.

Getting the patient talking is not only enjoyable for me, but it serves another purpose. Hopefully it takes away the image of a stranger standing in front of them with a knife, and I become a friend helping them with a problem. It has the potential of removing the anxiety situation of a pain-producing anesthetic injection and replacing it with a minor inconvenience in the middle of a story they are anxious to tell.

But the distraction doesn't work for everyone. Some come in with the predetermined plan to concentrate on every single moment of the painful experience. They are not impressed with my tactics of trying to sneak up on them in the middle of a conversation. It's as if they already have their minds made up to suffer to the full extent of the body's ability to absorb the discomfort. When that happens, it gives me great pleasure to occasionally tell them that their worst fear is for nothing, and that their bump will go away with a round of antibiotics without surgery. Talk about a grateful patient; I have made them a friend for life.

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