We humans really are not very smart when it comes to our bodies. Growing up around doctors and research scientists has shown me that even educated people, people who devote their lives to the study of health, medicine, and nutrition make poor choices about their own bodies.
It’s still astonishing to me how many doctors, nurses, and EMTs smoke and how poorly they eat. Sure, their jobs are stressful and their hours make eating healthy food more difficult. In fact, the hours can make it difficult to find time to eat at all! But many in these professions can do it; they make sacrifices elsewhere in their schedules and reprioritize things in order to make room for healthy lifestyle habits. I am currently struggling with this.
BUT… it never occurred to me that my patient’s poor choices would shock me. Sure, as a candy striper in high school I saw people on the cardiac unit who were in for quadruple bypass surgery, and I saw members of my own family struggle with emphysema from years of smoking. But some of my patients are in line to win a Darwin award one day. Of course I don’t lecture them, I don’t shake them. I point out the logical better options, take care of them, and get them to the hospital because that’s my job. Then I come home and blog about it.
* Asthmatic student who smoked pot… and had… wait for it… an asthma attack.
* Cranky old lady who was tired of being sick, and didn’t want to go to the hospital… but was bleeding from her GI tube.
* Elderly “bionic” woman with multiple joint replacements and osteoarthritis out walking (carrying) her similarly arthritic dog… at night… without a flashlight… and fell. On her head. (The dog was fine.)
And then there are the OTHER patients.
The ones who simultaneously infuriate and sadden you to your very core.
So far, I’ve been lucky to only meet 2 of these.
* The 600+ pound patient. How do things get that bad? There are certainly psychological and social issues at play here, as well as medical.
* The drugged-out parents who make me want to cry. Your child should not have to call 911 because Mommy or Daddy is acting strange, took too many pills, or has the “Irish sickness.” WHAT? No, we will not leave your child here with your equally cracked out boyfriend and drugs/alcohol bottles all over the floor. I will take excellent care of you. I will hold your hand and comfort you while you cry. I will also call the police to take away your child.
I am normally on the side of humanity. I like people. I think we’re basically good by nature. Sometimes, though, I have to admit, we have the potential to be real idiots. Let’s try to be better. Who’s with me?