Expert Opinion: When Doctor Becomes Patient
I’m at the tail end of my pregnancy and hopefully all will go well. I was recently told I have gestational hypertension—i.e. high blood pressure during pregnancy—and was handed a three-liter jug to collect a 24-hour urine specimen. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked a patient to do this very thing, but when faced with the task of doing it myself, I thought, How in the world am I going to do this while running around after a soon-to-be five-year-old? We’re talking every drop of urine, into this container, for an entire day. Oy!
It got me thinking about how, as a physician, it’s easy to assume patients can manage our requests for tests, home-care instructions, appointments and procedures, while balancing their own lives. I understand it’s a question of priorities, but some requests are more challenging than others.
In addition to this 24-hour urine collection, it was recommended I stop working and put my feet up. My first reaction: Ha! Easier said than done, because what about my daughter? She wants me to play princesses on the floor, get up at night to comfort her, get her water or drive her to all her activities. Besides, I also have my obligations to patients, which makes putting my feet up even more difficult. Thankfully, I have a network of support and an understanding team at work, but for those who don’t, I can’t imagine the stress this must add to an already stressful situation.
I’m starting to think of my health as a part of the “It takes a village” mantra that we usually apply to raising kids. I have been blessed with an outpouring of offers to help with meals, setting up the nursery, etc. It’s a blessing that I am not taking for granted. Frankly, it’s one of the only things keeping me calm right now, as I take things day by day.
Bindu Kumar, M.D., is a Philadelphia-area physician with expertise in primary care and occupational medicine. She maintains her family medicine board certification in both the United States and Canada.
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