This week I am on GUM. That’s Genito-Urinary Medicine for the uninitiated. (Or willies and lady gardens, for my 13 year old sister).
It’s surprisingly ok. I mean, asking people all the nitty-gritty about their sex lives is not my top activity, but I can think of worse. Like scraping my eyeballs out with a spoon. It will always be worse for the patient – they have to answer the probing questions, and then lie back and have their intimate regions probed – so for that I can be grateful, and do my best to make it as easy as possible. Although so far I haven’t seen a single man who I felt sorry for. They’ve all been cheating bastards, and most of women I’ve seen have a cheating bastard at the root of their problems too.
I did have a very interesting conversation with my father about it all. He asked how my day had been, and I told him about sexual history taking. He then said ‘But it wasn’t you asking those questions, was it?’ He just doesn’t quite understand the whole ‘my daughter is going to be a doctor in 9 months’ thing. He’s going to have to change his whole view, because I’m his little girl, who he helps out of trouble, who’s now going to be a real professional. And being non-medical, the glamour surrounding doctors has never been shattered for him. You know what I mean, that view of the doctor being a wise and learned man, with great knowledge and compassion, the ability to save lives with half a biro, break bad news with a soft voice and kind eyes, to usher people into and out of life with the same elegant, aloof manner. Ha! As if it were like that… Sometimes I truly think that is what the patients expect, and it’s impossible. Sometimes I think we expect that of ourselves. That’s also impossible.
With my mother, the glamour didn’t last very long out of occupational therapy college… She and her colleagues consider most junior doctors (and some seniors!) to be totally incompetent. Which is a little harsh, because in reality we’re just doing our best in an impossible job.