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Wednesday, April 13, 2005

How are you?

I have to learn to stop asking that question. People keep trying to answer me.

1 comment:

PsychoToddler said...

do this:

Pat guy on side of shoulder gently, smile and say, hey!!! wow, you look good, life must be treating you well, ok, well se ya!

that way you can ask and answer yourself.
Chaim | Homepage | 04.13.05 - 12:45 pm | #

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Re. "How are you?"
PT, with regards to telephone conversations, have you never done this, or been on the receiving end of this? You get a call and you answer, "Hello." "Hi, PT." "Fine, thank you." We become such automatons that we don't even wait for the "How are you?" It's an embarrassing situation, but I've found myself at both ends of it. (the other end, being that I respond before the person asks me in return how I am)

BTW, how are you, PT?
Pearl | Homepage | 04.13.05 - 12:50 pm | #

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My father-in-law like to tell the story of getting a call from a telemarketer who was dumb enough to ask him this question. He got an earfull.
psychotoddler | Homepage | 04.13.05 - 1:01 pm | #

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Or like automatons we ask the question, but don't wait for the answer or don't "hear" the answer given to us..
My dear father has learned a middle-ground response for everyone: "Fine, thank you" although in fact, he might not be fine. But he understands people are often just polite in asking, don't really care, or don't have the time of day to listen to whatever really ails him. I've tried to learn from his example.
BTW, thanks for asking, PT, "I'm fine, thank you."
Pearl | Homepage | 04.13.05 - 1:14 pm | #

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The answer is simple...you don't really want to know that do you?
That's what I thought....
Jewish Blogmiester | Homepage | 04.13.05 - 1:19 pm | #

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Pearl: I do that all the time. Makes me feel stupid.
psychotoddler | Homepage | 04.13.05 - 1:42 pm | #

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I was at the shul dinner last night. Gives new meaning to "being on call."
psychotoddler | Homepage | 04.13.05 - 1:46 pm | #

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Rabbi Wein once told me,that a nudnick is someone who tells you how he is,when you ask.
AMSHINOVER | Homepage | 04.13.05 - 3:27 pm | #

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Hey, I thought you were a doctor. You are supposed to ask and care about the answer.

If I were your patient, I would fire you.
Stacey | Homepage | 04.14.05 - 1:55 pm | #

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Stacey:

That's my problem. In the office, I always start off with "How are you," and to a one, they all answer "fine."

But in public, like for a dinner or at shul, they all answer with a list of complaints.
psychotoddler | Homepage | 04.14.05 - 2:20 pm | #

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"But in public, like for a dinner or at shul, they all answer with a list of complaints."

I think that doctors forget that they are one step below G-d in most people's eyes.

No, people shouldn't bother you on your off-hours, but a little compassion can go a long way.
Stacey | Homepage | 04.14.05 - 3:20 pm | #

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Have you ever read Plain Speaking, the biography of Harry S Truman by Merle Miller? Miller (or one of the people he interviewed) noted that in Truman's generation, one would NEVER answer the question "How are you?" with anything other than a pleasant, short reply.
Ontario Emperor | Homepage | 04.15.05 - 11:14 am | #

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In modern society, "How are you" is really a throwaway question with no meaning. The expected answer is "fine."

In my practice, I really do use it as an open-ended question to get the interview going. People still answer with the throwaway answer.

I really do have to stop using it in public though.

Stacey doesn't know me well enough to start insulting me. She should read through all of my previous medical posts. Then she can insult me.
psychotoddler | Homepage | 04.15.05 - 11:30 am | #

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I have read through your posts and this one didn't irk me nearly as much as the one where you seem utterly annoyed with patients who take an active role in their health management. G-d forbid they want to discuss things they have researched on their own.
Stacey | Homepage | 04.16.05 - 8:33 pm | #

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I assume you're referring to this one. If you read it a bit more carefully you'll see that I'm not upset with my patient, who cares about his health and was concerned when he read the paper. I'm upset with the press which spoon-feeds half-information to the public without a clear understanding of how to actually practice medicine.

But I don't want to start that argument up here. Brett did a fine job representing the press, so if you agree with his comments, go to his site and let him know (Dadtalk on my link list).

I certainly don't need to defend my practice of medicine or my level of compassion to you. My patients are the only ones that matter to me.

This is getting too serious for this post.
psychotoddler | Homepage | 04.17.05 - 12:28 am | #

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One last thing and then I'll shut up. I'm not really complaining here. I think that most people really don't understand what it's like to be a doctor. Stacy is right: You're second to G-d for some people.

Was it not Uncle Ben who said, "with great power comes great responsibility"? Part of being a doctor means always being on call. It means that when you ask people "how are you," that many people will think, even in a social setting, that this is an opening for a medical interview. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but what it ends up doing is making me want to avoid asking the question.

It's like being king midas. Sure it's nice to be able to turn things into gold, but you soon realize that you can no longer have common contact with people.
psychotoddler | Homepage | 04.17.05 - 12:44 am | #

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I did not mean to upset you or make you defensive, Psychotoddler. I have enjoyed your blog and your mother's story. And your Cleveland post was superb.

I do agree with what Brett said. Like it or not, this is the information age and the days of patients uh-huh'ing everything their doctor says is a distant memory. And it should be.

And an informed patient is a better patient.

I got sick as a dog on a trip to Israel 5 years ago. When I got back to the states, it took me 5 GI doctors over the course of a year before I was properly diagnosed (and treated) as having picked up a bacteria over there that wreaked havoc on my GI system.

What I went through to get a proper diagnosis would make anyone's skin crawl (and I live in a large metropolitan area and went to respected GIs at major medical centers).

And did I learn from my experience. I will never again go to any doctor who does not make me a partner in my treatment, who does not answer every single question I have and who gets offended when I ask questions or make suggestions based on my own research.

Doctors make plenty of mistakes. I am living proof of it. And my husband's sister and both parents are doctors -- the things I hear from them...of course, they blame everything on insurance companies...and I empathize with that, but I empathize more with the patients because we are the ones who suffer.

It behooves the patient to be on top of their medical conditions.

After time and effort I have found some wonderful, wonderful doctors but I believe they are few and far between. Too many are jaded, arrogant and bitter.

I had a long talk with one of my doctors about this. This doctor is one-in-a-million. He is always accessible to his patients, whether on call or not. He told me how frustrated he was back when he was a resident (he's 40) because even back then he felt that the patient didn't always come first. But they do with him. Too bad all doctors are not like this.
Stacey | Homepage | 04.17.05 - 1:25 am | #

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Cleveland is still monkeytown. Had you been raised in a proper city you would see that the medical profession has many fine professionals working in it.

Unfortunately not all of them are interested in working in inferior cities like cleveland.
Jack | Homepage | 04.17.05 - 4:07 am | #

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I suspect that you and I would probably get along fine, Stacey. Your description of what you like in your doctor generally applies to me. But it's more interesting to blog about the funny or annoying stuff.

Today in minyan the guy in front of me almost passed out, and I had to break out the stethoscope and BP kit and move him to a couch. He apologised for inconveniencing me. I told him it's all part of the "service."

get it? "service"

See what I mean about compelling blogging.
psychotoddler | Homepage | 04.17.05 - 11:18 am | #