Tuesday, June 21, 2005

But we love you, C. O.!

Does the Cheerful Oncologist need some cheering up?
I guess it is a sign of vulnerability but I have never become inured to being fired by a patient. It bothers me that someone would prefer another doctor’s wisdom, another doctor’s beside manner, another doctor’s eyes for the future. After all the time I had spent counseling him, why did this new patient abruptly want to leave me? As I stood over my desk, re-reading the request to send records to a rival oncologist I made a mental list of possible reasons, wallowing in what the psychiatrists call projection as I steamed over this incident. I considered a few causes:

1. The patient was in such profound denial about the diagnosis that he was exhibiting what the headshrinkers call displacement - that is, instead of becoming angry at the disease cancer he was angry at me for being the bearer of bad news about the ugly details of treatment and prognosis. This is known in businesses far and wide as “Kill the messenger.”

2. The patient found my personality shall we say unappealing, and thinking it would clash with his own, decided to switch rather than fight (cf. Bernard Law Montgomery vs. George Smith Patton, Jr.).

3. I’m an abject failure as an oncologist and should be summarily executed cometh the dawn..."
I won't spoil the ending. Please read the whole, wonderful post. Dear C. O., it's terrible to be fired by a patient, but sometimes it's all for the best!
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