Tuesday, March 21, 2006

You mean it isn't syphillis?

Sometimes I really love my job. What else can you do that can bring complete happiness to someone in a matter of minutes? Besides selling lottery tickets or HaagenDasz ice cream, I mean.

One of my patients today was a young man with a "rash". So said the nurse's note on the chart in the door box. Rash, okay, fine. I took down the chart, knocked and entered the exam room. The young man was sitting on the exam table, and a young woman was nearby, seated on the edge of the visitor's chair. She was clearly his partner, and both of them looked extremely nervous. Their bodies were stiff, turned slightly away from each other, and both looked seriously and exclusively at me.

I smiled and asked the young man to tell me about his "rash". He described a light patch on his "upper thigh" that he had ignored for a couple of weeks, until it got darker, and itchy, and spread to the other side. I asked to see it, and he obligingly "dropped trau", revealing what was clearly a simple case of "jock itch" or Tinea cruris, a run-of-the-mill fungal infection.

You should have seen their faces when I told them. The lights came on, the teeth came out, the bodies relaxed. "It's not an STD," I reassured them, just to be sure I answered the unasked, and was rewarded with even broader smiles. A little more education, a prescription for cream, and Bye Bye Happy People.

You'd think I had sold them a winning lottery ticket.

Sometimes I really love my job.


Heather said...

Isn't it incredible how most people instantly imagine the worst?

I'm the opposite - "It's not a tumor". Until it is a tumor and then we'll deal with it.

pegadoc said...

You're right, Heather. Many people are at one extreme or another.

This is why I don't doctor my own kids if I can help it. I assume it's either nothing or that they're on death's doorstep, when the truth is usually something in between.


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