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Over the past few years I have become increasingly aware that when a patient visits the doctor it is a BIG DEAL. Even the simple visits. I should not have realized this, but I did and I am glad I did. If you have had an illness of any note you will surely identify with my words. My personal experiences aided in my awareness and they have confirmed this notion time and time again.

Many of my colleagues wouldn’t have a clue as to what I am talking about. In today’s medical world time is money. You get your number and you are rushed through with less and less personal attention or explanation. However, this culture, I contend, is much less about money and more about your doctor not looking through your eyes.

You see, what we doctors do seems so special to the layperson, but in reality it is generally everyday ho-drum repetition to us. We really don’t get that exited. I just saw 31 other patients just like you with your same problem just last month. Been there, done that, boring. However, we too often forget you have an experience of exactly ONE, and even with the almighty internet you may feel isolated. Your problem IS big and you are depending on us!

I have walked that mile in your shoes.

I was diagnosed with cancer 11 years ago, had surgery and I am now “cancer free.” But I still have to go in for testing in the form of blood work. I am just fine until just after they draw my blood. It generally takes about 8 hours for the test to come back. Let me assure you that for a guy who is “cancer free” those are not a comfortable 8 hours. My test results always get completed about 7 p.m. that evening. Thank God I can call the lab (I really am a doctor) and get my own results that very night. Otherwise I would have to rely on my doctor to get back to me with the results the next day if I am lucky.

Recently my wife got an MRI to better define a non-emergent lumbar back issue. Trying to be a good doctor-husband I stayed low key and patiently waited with my girl for the results. BTW, did I say the spine surgeon, who ordered the MRI, is well recognized and is a colleague/acquaintance of mine. After a week she finally called and after two more days we got the results. This was not urgent by any means, but we still wanted to know. This doctor and his staff really did not care or maybe they have not realized the concept of The Big Day.

It takes one to know one.

I now know that just about every encounter with a doctor or their office is a Big Day. I do believe many more primary care physicians get this than surgeons, I am sorry to say, because I am a surgeon. At my office the protocol is a system (paper and pen) my staff has in place to flag and alert me when a test or other pending thing is completed. Then they shove it under my nose so I know to make that call. We try our best not to let the sun go down on communicating a result, good or bad. And just about everything I deal with treating foot and ankle problems is non-emergent.

This same effect is even at play with office visits. You are six weeks post-op and we just took X-rays to determine if your bone is healed. You are waiting in the exam room for me to come in to tell you the results. No doubt your hoping on hope I will come in with good news. No matter what the news is, good or bad, my entry into that room and my presentation can have tremendous impact on you and your recovery.

So your doctor my be a good person and a fine physician; it just might be that they have not walked in your shoes. I, for one, am thankful I have walked in these shoes.