Last week I posted a couple of experiences with some of my first patients. I wanted to include one more for all of you.
Here’s another patient I encountered in my early days at Drexel Nursing Home:
In every crowd, there’s at least one kvetch—a professional whiner. I was lucky that my nurse was skilled in saving the intern-of-the-month from his first experience with the Drexel Kvetch, Molly Schwartz.
Molly Schwartz paid monthly visits to the Drexel clinic for the sole purpose of assaulting the newest intern with her litany of real and imagined ills. Apparently, she was able to relieve her symptoms by totally overwhelming the naïve intern, leaving him deliberating why he’d ever picked medicine as a career.
My nurse let me in on the skinny that her complaints never changed. So, for fun, I decided not to be another passive victim.
When Molly entered my office, I stood up slowly with obvious effort. I made sure that a brief wince shot across my face before greeting her.
“Hello, Mrs. Schwartz. Have a seat.”
After she sat down, I went to sit down myself, but as I did, I grimaced and groaned, “Oyh vay!” I panted.
Immediately, she looked concerned. “What’s wrong, Doctor?”
The hook was set.
“Oh, I have sciatica. But that’s not the worst of it. I also have crippling rheumatoid arthritis in my hands…”
She made a sympathetic snivel.
“But that’s not the worst! I also have a heart condition—a bum valve—and I need surgery.”
She gasped a sound that resembled a yelp and leaned back from me.
“But that’s not the worst… I have a malignant tumor in my brain… but…well that’s enough of me, you’re not here to listen to my problems, what’s wrong with you, Mrs. Schwartz?”
Molly’s mouth had been open for the past two minutes but no words had been able to exit. Then, she pulled herself together and stated firmly but with sympathy,
“Doctor, you have too many problems to bother with me today—I’ll come back another day.”
She never did return on my rotation. I guess she’d already gotten more than she’d bargained for. Or, maybe I cured her forever.