Patients constantly look at me like I'm, if not mentally delayed, at least extremely blonde. I'm not an idiot. I have reasons for asking things.
- "When you say the symptoms started last night, do you mean as in Friday or Saturday night?" [asked at 3am Sunday morning]: don't look at me as if I am too stupid to keep talking to me and then say "last night," repeatedly and very slowly, as if I am dim-witted. My "last night" would be Saturday, but for most people it is Friday if they've not been to bed yet. So don't just keep saying, "LAST NIGHT." Because then I'll have to clarify further. "Do you mean last night like FIVE hours ago or last night like more than 24 hours ago?"
- "Have you been drinking tonight?" I'm asking this because I have learned not to assume that the reek of a distillery is coming from the patient. My nose cannot discern from which person the reek arises. So don't get all up in my face saying, "Can't you smell that? Jesus Christ."
- "Are you sure the bleeding is coming from your rectum?" Women have a few holes down there that blood has been known to emerge from. I'm not just randomly curious when I try to figure out which hole you're really all about.
- "Did you use a watch to time her seizure?" Don't get all pissy and say "ain't nobody got time for dat." I'm asking because if you looked at a watch and know it lasted 45 seconds, that impresses me more than if you didn't look at a watch and say "it last TWO MINUTES, I'm tellin you, I thought she gone die."
- "Why have you not had a period in 3 months?" If you're in your 20s and the date of your last menstrual period is a while back, I need to know why. Because, you know, typically that can indicate the imminent arrival of an infant and in the meanwhile could add to why your tummy hurts. Don't get all hostile and say, "I had a hysterectomy!" I can't tell that from from looking at you.
- "What has changed to bring you here at 1 AM?" I am not trying to irritate you; it is medically relevant to know if your chronic condition has suddenly worsened.
- "Has someone diagnosed you with migraines?" Just because you just said to me "I have a migraine" does not mean you in fact have a migraine. My question helps rule out other more serious issues. Please don't repeat yourself. Just answer the question. If you got your diagnosis from WebMD, you bought yourself a CT scan.
- When I ask if you lost consciousness and you say "I don't know" and I say, "that's 'yes,'" don't get all defensive and start telling me how I wasn't there.
In short, let's try assuming that the nurse has reasons for questions and isn't just randomly asking you stuff to tick you off, OK?