Simon Wood

HUMP DAY: Bedside Manners

The customer is king in the US and that’s great, but there are limits and that’s never more applicable than when it comes to dealing with doctors and dentists. I’ve recently been to the doctor and dentist so my opinion has been reinforced. I suppose since I’m paying for health care, doctors and dentists feel they are no different from wait staff or salespeople. They know that if I don’t like what they do, I’m out of there. Because of this, these healthcare professionals ask the worst questions.

When I met my first US dentist, he asked, “What can I do to improve your smile?”

“Well, you can get Salma Hayek to sit on my lap and have someone shovel Sacagawea dollar coins into the trunk of my car,” was the first thought that sprang to mind.

The best smile improvement that my dentist can give me is to tell me that my teeth are in good shape. The hard sell isn’t necessary.

I fear a dentist will one day ask, “What do I have to do put you into these dentures today?”

Things aren’t much better at the doctor’s office. A couple of months back I received a letter from a surgeon, asking me to let him know if I needed anything done.

Visiting my general practitioner is a little weird, too. Every time I have an appointment, the nurse pops her head out from behind a doorway and calls my name. Her first question to me is, “How are you?”

How do you think I am? If I were tiptop, I wouldn’t even be here today. I don’t come here for the conversation, but I always reply, “I’m good, thanks. And you?”

Every time I answer this way, I feel stupid. Worse still, I fear she’s going to call me on my remark. “Hey, if you feel so good, then why are you here? Do you like wasting our time, Mr. Wood?”

On occasion, I’ve answered truthfully. “Yeah, I’m actually not too good. I think I might have the flu.” Sadly, I feel just as dumb for telling the nurse how sick I am. I keep thinking, does this person really care and shouldn’t I be saving this story for the doctor? And when I do meet the doctor, they ask the same question, “How are you?” and I still say, “I’m good, thanks.”

I remember when a car had hit me and I was in the ER, the doctor asked, “How are you?” Okay, I had concussion and I wasn’t at my best, but I still told her I felt great.

There are situations where I don’t need niceties, but we can be chummy after I’m all mended. At the beginning, I want my doctor to start in with, “Hey, Simes, you look like a sack of used turds. What the dilly-o, player?”

I realize everyone needs to present a professional and service-oriented image, but at the same time, let’s be realistic. The medical profession is not a conventional customer/service provider arrangement. We can get down to the nitty-gritty without the sales gloss.

That said, how are you?

2 Responses to “HUMP DAY: Bedside Manners”

  1. keizerfire

    Perfect thing to start the morning reading. I guess I’m finally admitting to old age (still under 55 but sneaking the senior discount), because I’m less and less inclined to suffer fools (and stupid questions) gladly. And why does that dental hygienist always ask if I’ve been flossing? She can already see I haven’t been. I think it’s called humiliation, lol. So, now when I go in, I just start by telling them not to ask. Have a great day, and thanks for a bit of humor today!


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