Challenge of the Week: Being a patient

This week the biggest challenge was being a patient myself. Don’t worry readers (aka mum and dad) I was not injured, but found myself needing to visit the dentist for some work, and visiting occupational health for some blood tests and vaccinations for my elective.

It’s probably well agreed that the worst possible patient is one who thinks they know lots (courtesy of a search engine), but in fact don’t know much at all. Well, this was me. First, at the dentist I was looking at the x-rays and standing up whilst the dentist was talking, until I was sharply asked to sit down by the dental nurse! Similarly at occupational health I had every possible piece of paper with me for my appointment in a folder, and had done all of my research before attending.

However I started to realise that the reason I appeared as a really irritating patient was that actually I was very nervous about handing the control over to someone else. It’s a very strange position to find yourself in, when you are used to being in control and managing nervous patients, to being one yourself.

The challenge started with watching the dental nurse and dentist exchange looks over me, hearing the dentist ask for instruments I don’t know the name of and not knowing what on earth was going on in my mouth. I suddenly realised how much of a control freak I am! This prompted a slightly stressful bizarre situation when every time the dentist did something, I asked a question or got more physically nervous, which in turn got him sweating more (he must have thought I was a huge dental critic!) and as a result I found myself getting more nervous!

Similar events occurred in occupational health, with me feeling too squeemish to watch the vaccinations or my blood test. It’s so strange, I can see operations, autopsies and a range of bodily fluids, or even perform these tests on someone else, but cannot manage to watch my own blood flow out of my arm!

As I packed away my huge folder of paperwork and put all the vaccination leaflets and handmade notes I’d made into my bag, I realised after being one I now had more respect for the nervous patient than ever before.


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