- Thinking Machines Inc., manufacturers of super computers
- TMI Associates, a Japanese law firm
- Three Mile Island, a nuclear power plant that had a partial meltdown in 1979
To most people, however, TMI stands for Too Much Information, ie when someone tells you something that makes you wish you had ear bleach. I will be focusing on that definition for reasons that will (hopefully) become clear soon. When is too much information too much? More information is usually better than less in my line of work, right. Well, sometimes too much is just too damned much.
One of my recent patients was a 50-ish year old man who was found lying face down in the street next to his bicycle. I have no idea if he crashed or if he was hit by a car, and I quickly determined that it didn't matter one bit. He reeked of alcohol and his face looked like he had gotten into a nasty bar fight (and lost). Our extensive workup showed multiple facial fractures and a blood alcohol level over 3 times the legal limit.
I went to see him the next day as he was waiting for the maxillofacial surgeon to repair his face. I passed by his girlfriend in the hall as she was leaving - she was worried, in tears, and obviously cared for him a great deal since she had been at his side all night. As soon as I got to his room he launched into his entire life story, including several excuses for why he drank heavily every night. I tried to use body language (slowly inching towards the door) to let him know subtly that I didn't give a fuck, but he kept on going until I thought my ear would fall off.
Too much information! Please stop talking! I said to myself.
"Things are bad at work. I'm probably going to lose my job. And my home life is really hard with Sally (not her real name) right now, Doc."
I don't care. Please stop, I thought.
Then he leaned in close...
Oh god, no, I silently begged him. Please stop...for fuck's sake don't say anything more...
"And there's another woman that Sally doesn't know about..."
I politely told him that the facial surgeon would be in to see him soon, and I finally extracted myself from his room, wishing the antiseptic hand gel worked on brains, too. And for the cherry on top of this shit sundae, as I was walking away, he yelled after me,
"Oh yeah, Doc! Don't tell Sally about...you know! You know..."
I'm pretty sure doctor-patient confidentiality doesn't cover infidelity. I'm pretty sure Sally already knows. And I'm pretty sure I should keep my big mouth shut and keep my nose out of his personal business. But I'm absolutely positive that was too much information.