Yeah, yeah, yeah, everyone knows the stereotype that doctors make the worst patients. What's funny is that I thoroughly enjoy perpetuating the stereotype because it's absolutely goddamned true. We do make the worst patients, and I freely admit it. I don't know if it's because we think we're indestructible or if we just enjoy living in denial that anything could actually be wrong with us. But whatever the reason, we suck.
But getting back to people who aren't me, DadBastard is a perfect example of a doctor not taking care of himself. He willfully ignored MomBastard's advice (badgering) to get a screening colonoscopy at age 50 like his GP recommended ("I'm too busy" was his usual excuse). He ignored my advice (annoying constant nagging) to do it at 55. Finally at 60 he did it . . . and it was stone cold normal. His colon was squeaky clean. Fortunately he resisted rubbing that fact that in our faces. Much.
Dr. Natalie (not her real name™) is another perfect example.
Dr. Natalie is an ophthalmologist friend of mine whom I have known for nearly a decade. She is very friendly, very smart, and very good at her job. I hadn't seen her in quite some time when I ran into her recently. As I gave her a hug I noticed the cast on her right wrist. The trauma surgeon in me was immediately curious about what happened.
Apparently she had been running early one morning before the sun was up, and it wasn't bright enough for her to see the branch on the path. She stumbled over it, landing on her outstretched right hand. Completely plussed (what the hell is the opposite of "nonplussed" anyway?), she finished her 5 km run, and when she got home she noticed her hand turning purple and swelling impressively. While she suspected it was fractured, she went to work anyway, where she had a full schedule of patients to see. As the day went on, the swelling and pain got worse, so she suspected it was broken. Unfortunately she had a flight to catch the next morning, so she thought, "Meh, I'll just wait until I get home in 3 days to get it X-rayed".
Since she had a cast on her right hand, you can obviously guess the outcome.
What finally made me seek care was when I woke up Friday morning and the vision in my right eye was blurry. SHITSHITSHITSHIT. I don't know much about the eye, but I do know that is bad.
I finally broke down and consulted someone. No, not Dr. Natalie, at least not at first. Against my better judgment, I saw an emergency physician. Now before you go and start accusing me of various things, I didn't want to, I had to. It was also rather convenient, since I was on trauma call and in the emergency department/A&E anyway. I found a doc I know and trust (relatively speaking) and told him of the foreign body sensation I was having in that eye, and he very nicely agreed to take a look. He put some fluorescein dye in my eye, looked with his special scope, and saw . . . absolutely nothing. No corneal abrasion, no foreign bodies, nothing.
I breathed a sigh of relief and then immediately realised how stupid that relief was. If it wasn't a foreign body or corneal abrasion, what the fuck was it? Retinal detachment? Macular degeneration? Some disgusting parasite? Cancer of the eyeball? Dry eye?
Ok, I admit didn't actually think of dry eye, because my Inner Pessimist was only allowing me to think of either life- or career-threatening maladies at that point.
The next morning my vision was just slightly worse in that eye, and the foreign body sensation was also a bit worse. E-FUCKING-NOUGH. I had had it. I did the last thing I wanted to do - I called a colleague for a favour on a Saturday morning. After I told Dr. Natalie of my symptoms (including the blurry vision), she very graciously and without any hesitation whatsoever told me to meet her at her office in an hour.
After she took a detailed history, she put the fluorescein dye in my eye again. It took her exactly 1.272 seconds (I timed it) to do a rather impressive double take.
"Oh my god, how long has it been hurting?" she gasped.
A week, I told her.
"Doc (not your real name™), you have, let's see, one, two, three . . . SIX foreign bodies in there! How the hell have you been working like this, and why the hell didn't you call me sooner? Most people are crying and calling for emergency appointments with ONE foreign body, and you've been living with SIX of them for a WEEK??"
I let out a small, sheepish sigh of relief combined with a slight pang of guilt and a rather large pang of stupidity.
She very carefully removed all six shards of sawdust (yes, sawdust), and after completing a full eye exam she told me that my cup-to-disc ratio was perfect (HUZZAH!) and that there was no sign of infection (HUZZAH!). She expected the pain to last for another day and my vision to return to normal a few days after that.
And there was the real sigh of relief.