Earlier this week I was called out of a session at the EMG-NCV room by a resident who needed me to make a referral. By the time I was walking back to the EMG-NCV room I found a woman and her son (nine or ten years old maybe?) standing outside, apparently waiting for their turn. I was already turning the doorknob when the woman asked me, in the most condescending I-speak-English-in-a-Filipino-charity-ho
I looked around. This was a very small corridor, and a corridor full of offices for occupational therapy and physical therapy etc--in other words, a corridor that often saw the use of wheelchairs and walkers and even stretchers, so chairs put up against the walls would be more of a hindrance than a help to waiting patients. In any case there was an anteroom to the corridor where patients could wait. Only she and her son insisted on waiting right outside the door, as though ready to pounce on anyone coming out of the EMG-NCV room.
I asked, "I'm sorry Ma'am, are you with the patient?" and I gestured to the room, where a man with spinal cord compression was being examined, because I thought they might have been with him, because again this fricking corridor was not a waiting area except for anxious relatives who waited outside the door, unable to stay away. And she said, "No, my son is the patient," and I noticed that the son was standing awkwardly and I understood why she was asking for a chair. So I said "I'm sorry Ma'am, where is his injury?" and she impatiently pointed to kid's leg. So I controlled my temper, told myself she was just a mother concerned about her boy, and I knocked at the EMG room and procured a chair (which was actually supposed to be for the companions of the patient already inside, but who cares about that right?), gave it to her, apologized again while she harrrumphed royally and dismissed me, again, like I was a janitor. The whole time I wanted to tell her, "you cannot talk to me like that; I am a doctor. And even if I weren't a doctor you would still never have that right. Even we don't talk like that to our staff; we call them Ma'am and Sir all the damn time!"
But anyway. She was just a mom worried about her kid. I wanted to move on from that and focus on the session. Unfortunately, a few minutes later, a knock came at the door, and I peered over the resident's shoulder to realize that the lady in question, who had made such a fuss about a chair for her son, was calmly sitting in the chair while her son stood awkwardly beside her.
I hope I'm always nice. I hope I'm always nice to patients and their companions, even when they don't deserve it. AT ALL.