Nobody likes to go to work sick.
All of us have had, and I’m being very technical here, “the crud.”
The crud is a cough.
The crud is body aches.
The crud is feeling tired and congested.
The crud is a viral upper respiratory infection that just makes it hard to sleep, and makes your insides feel like the Melting Man from Nightmare Before Christmas.
But, unfortunately, you truly are not so horribly sick that you cannot work, so you go anyways. Thus, just like one of the PA’s who works in the ER, when you are coughing your guts out and feel like an achy pile of last weeks rotting yogurt on the inside, sometimes being overly compassionate can be difficult.
What amplifies this is when you get a 19 year old with a 50% teeth to tattoo ratio who comes in with a complaint of “bad cough” wanting a work excuse for yesterday and the next week.
Lets call our new patient Nigel, because there is a 0% chance his name will ever be Nigel.
Nigel: Oh man, yeah I’ve been coughing all the time (he says, while briefly looking up from his phone texts after turning on the TV you turned off walking into the room so you could treat him)
PA: (cough-cough). I see, that sounds pretty bad. Any sputum production or chest pain?
Nigel: (annoyed that the provider keeps distracting him from Clash of Clans game on his phone) huh? No, it’s just this cough. It’s real bad.
PA: Well, when did (cough cough), it start?
Nigel: I dunno. About an hour ago.
PA: An hour? But you want an excuse for yesterday, and you haven’t coughed once since you got to the ER.
Nigel: Yeah but I missed work yesterday. And I’m worried it might get worse.
PA: Uh huh. I’m going to give you a prescription for suckitup, because even without testing I can tell your levels are critically low, thaaaaaaanks.
Okay, so that story is (mostly) made up, but this happens with great frequency. I try to be extremely empathetic to my patients, however, when a provider is three times sicker than the patient, the sympathy train often derails.
Oh, that reminds me… about once a month I’ll take care of some teenager who comes in for drinking too much. Teenagers drinking for the first time can be dangerous, but usually they just come in covered in vomit and extremely hung over.
This is when the parents gave me hope for the next generation. I actually had parents say to me:
“Yeah, don’t make him too well, he needs to have a hangover so that he learns something.”
Thank you parents, at least have them learn something.