Posted by: notdeaddinosaur | June 24, 2009

In Which I Discover That I May, in Fact, be (Gasp!) Human

Got a phone call from a long-time patient the other day telling me that she was switching doctors. Something had been bothering her — that she never told me about — that she really needed to get taken care of, so she was switching.

Believe it or not, this kind of nonsense happens all the time. People switch doctors at the drop of a hat. Whether the office location or hours aren’t convenient, or their insurance changes to a plan they don’t think I participate in (though I probably do), or I didn’t call them back when they paged me after hours (leaving a message on the regular message line instead of the default emergency line, and not leaving a phone number), or whatever. This is not at all uncommon, and it doesn’t bother me a bit.

That’s what I tell myself.

That’s what I try to keep telling myself again and again as I drive home, mulling over the call in my mind. “What, am I supposed to be a mind reader now?” I ask myself. Of course not. I know that it’s just one of those things. It happens all the time, and I tell myself it doesn’t bother me a bit.

Of course it does. A bit.

A little bit.

I also know from experience that although there’s a little heaviness to my step for the rest of today, once I sleep on it I will shake it off. These things are always better the next day.

I decide not to say anything to Darling Spouse. After all, I’ve already told myself everything that can be said. DS isn’t going to say anything different, so what’s the point?

It turns out that marriage doesn’t work that way.

“How was your day?” comes the regular question.

I sigh a little as I answer, “A long-time patient switched doctors because I didn’t take care of a problem she never told me about.”

“What, are you supposed to be a mind reader now?”

Although they are, in fact, exactly the same words I have already said to myself (several times), just hearing them out loud is startlingly soothing. I have no idea if hearing it through my ears instead of just in my imagination is what makes it so different, or if it’s the validation of another person that no, I don’t really have to be a mind reader; either way, I feel my mood lift immediately.

Wow. So this is what this feels like. Accepting the comfort and empathy that comes from hearing something I already know. I dole it out all day long, all the while telling myself I don’t need it. Maybe I don’t need it, but it sure feels good.

I may be a dinosaur, but I guess I’m human after all.

(Thanks, DS.)

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