I’ve had the opportunity to interact with a wide variety of patients. Along the way, I’ve heard some pretty memorable and interesting things. I thought it might be fun to share a few of my favorites.
One of the most common things I hear from my older patients is something like, “Doc, it’s just hell getting old!” Our standard response is usually something like, “Well, it’s better than the alternative,” with a chuckle. But one patient, a lady, had a great comeback. She said, “I guess you’re right. It’s better to be seen and not viewed!” I thought that was a clever and funny way of looking at things.
Another memorable moment came when I had to give some news to a patient that could be interpreted as “You are getting old.” He responded with a grin, “You mean you’re telling me I’m past my sell-by date?” I thought that was a clever and humorous way to cope with the news.
Another thing that I find particularly interesting is how different people deal with pain. I’ve found that asking patients, “Is there anything that your knee keeps you from doing?” is a more effective way of gauging pain than asking them to rate their pain on a scale of 1-10. One patient, Bob, responded with a big grin on his face, “Only going shopping at the mall!” I completely understood and found it quite amusing.
Overall, these patients’ quotes were fun and insightful; they gave me a different perspective on how they were coping with the situation and how they were feeling. It reminded me that despite the seriousness of our work, it’s important to keep a sense of humor and to be able to find a way to laugh and see the positive side of things.
John Chase is an orthopedic surgeon and author of You What?!: Humorous Stories, Cautionary Tales, and Unexpected Insights About A Career in Medicine.