I don't know about the rest of you, but I actually pause when someone asks me about my profession. Each and every time I'll wage a cerebral war with myself on the pros/cons of telling this complete stranger about what I do, because 75% of the time the next words will be, "So I have this dog...".

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Mrs. Argumentative, part 2

I try to go out of my way for many of my good clients. Nothing unreasonable of course, I won't step out of a surgery just to talk about yesterday's football game. But occasionally I'll let my staff interrupt me in an appointment, or I'll squeeze one of them in over my lunch hour even when it's not an emergency. The good clients are given that status for many different reasons as you can probably expect, one of them being that they know when they are putting me out, but are noticeably appreciative and they don't abuse my generosity.

As you can probably guess, Mrs. Argumentative is NOT one of my "good" clients. Even if I was somehow able to put aside her hatefulness, impatience, noncompliance, and overall annoyance to all other things living, her phone call yesterday immediately rejected her from ever achieving that status.

She called while I was in the middle of a very sick appointment and demanded to talk to me. She refused to hang up the phone and was ok with sitting on hold as long as it took. Her reason was simple, she didn't have time to call me later, and she didn't want to sit around waiting for me to return my messages. She explicitly said, "I'm just as busy as he is!".

Her question? She couldn't remember whether she was supposed to come in for her recheck appointment before or after finishing the medications. And she had to hear the answer from me, not my staff.


It didn't take me long to decide which I'd rather do, talk to Mrs. Argumentative or finish with the vomiting patient in my exam room. After all, she made the choice herself. She DID say she'd sit on hold as long as it took.

I think she hung up after 20 minutes.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mrs. Argumentative

So I admit it, I have some clients that I absolutely do not like (surprise!). I cringe when I see them on the appointment book, and my staff has even started putting one or two of them on the schedule occasionally as a really cruel and heartless joke. Sometimes I really don't like my staff either.

But there's only one client that I can honestly say that I HATE. Yes, I said it. I HATE her. I rarely use that word, and it bothers me that I feel that way about her. But I do and it feels so good to actually say it. She's always so damn angry at the world and she sits in the corner of the lobby and then the exam room sulking and brooding. Even when I ask her questions or make small talk, she responds with very suspicious tones and the occasional "Why?". "Because I was curious how your day has been, that's all....". I've known her in this capacity for 3 years and never once have I seen even a hint of a smile. She yells at the staff and has made one or two in the past cry. She's all but flat out said that I was a quack and didn't know what I was talking about. And she doesn't take any of my advice.

It should come as no surprise then to learn that I've requested to have her fired as a client of the hospital multiple times. Unfortunately for me, the owner has this demented belief that this particular client will somehow convince the rest of our 2000+ clients to also leave. Come on!! What's she going to do, drop fliers from a hot air balloon? Take out a commercial during Dancing with the Stars?? Run out onto the field during the World Series with "Don't use XYZ Hospital, they're really bad" painted on her naked back???

It would make a great YouTube video, but it ain't happening. Believe me.

So why am I telling you this? Well, she has three Shelties and brings each of them into the hospital for an exam with Yours Truly approx 3-4 times per year. That means approx once a month I'm graced with her presence. And tonight was the night. Grumble.

Luckily for me though, there was only one point of contention this evening. The appointment with Short Straw 1 was actually going fairly smoothly, that is until I made the mistake of asking how Short Straw 2 was doing. You see, a few months back her and her breeder friends refused to believe that the cause of that dog's pruritus (itch) wasn't caused by hypothyroidism. And since she never believes me anyway, I finally referred (unloaded) her to a local dermatologist (with apologies ahead of time of course). Finally, after repeating many of the same tests I had, including skin scrapings, fungal cultures, a thyroid panel, and even a trial treatment for Sarcoptic mange, he came to the same conclusion as me, that Short Straw 2 is most likely atopic (allergic). Definitely not hypothyroid.

Me: 1, Mrs. Argumentative: 0

Well, during this particular appointment, she reported that she also came to a conclusion: (verbatim) "Dr. Dermatologist is a quack and my breeder friends know more than he does, [Apparently Shelties are always hypothyroid when their T4 is below 1.2 regardless of what the reference range or the dog's clinical signs say] and I've spent hundreds upon hundreds of dollars to finally figure this out. When Short Straw 2 runs out of the drugs that he's prescribed, the itch always comes back. He's miserable! He's obviously hypothyroid, and I just can't figure out why you guys won't prescribe him the medicine for it"

My response: "Hypothyroidism doesn't cause itch."
Mrs Argumentative: "Yes it does, everyone knows that!"
Me: "Hypothyroidism can cause infections that in turn cause itch, but the disease itself doesn't cause itch."
Her: "Well, Short Straw 2 doesn't have any infections."
Me: "Exactly."

Me: 2, Mrs. Argumentative: 0

Her: "But I've read the internet, and everyone says...."
Me: "I read medical textbooks and journals written by other doctors, not some old Joe Schmoe."
Her: "What I've read wasn't written by Joe Schmoe!"
Me: "Who wrote it?"
Her: "Well, I don't know."
Me: "Exactly."
Her: "Whatever, I don't want to talk about it. Let's get back to Short Straw 1."

Me: 3, Mrs. Argumentative: 0

Could someone please tell me WHY she uses us when there are dozens of hospitals in a 5 mile radius? I hate her and she doesn't like me or my staff. The feelings are pretty mutual in my opinion, yet she has a recheck appointment with me for next week.

yay me.