The Phoenix Zine

Medical Terminology: Eating Crow

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Sunday evening is here and Tuesday morning I have an appointment with one of my many doctors.  I’m not looking forward to this particular appointment; in fact, I’ve been dreading it for months.  Tuesday I must get back on my doctor’s good side by eating crow.

According to Wikipedia, eating crow is similar to eating humble pie.  The saying developed because having to admit you are wrong feels bitter and nasty, much like the taste you get in your mouth when you eat a crow.  I feel bad for the person who experimented with eating actual crow and found that out.

I hate eating crow, and I especially hate it when I think I’m in the right but I have to be in the wrong for the greater good. 

The relationship between doctor and patient is a delicate balance.  On the one hand, my illness and I are the reason some doctors have a job.  But on the other hand, I need my doctor’s knowledge, skills and resources to stay alive.  As much as I wish it could be, it isn’t an equal relationship.  I will always need more from my doctors than they ever will from me. 

And even though I’ve reached the age where I can say to some of my nurses and a few of my doctors, “I’ve been dealing with illness since we both were in diapers”, I remain in the position of having to defer to their knowledge and judgement.

Thus, when a disagreement occurs between my doctor and me, I have to back down first.  If they get upset over treatments or referrals I seek without their express permission, I’m the one who has to suck it up and be the grown-up, because I can’t risk sub-standard care or no care at all due to perceived offence I may have caused.

Don’t get me wrong, the doctors I have issues with are few and far between.  At the moment I am fortunate to be in the care of several incredible doctors who take the time to listen to me and seek my opinion when it comes to my care.

It all boils down to fact that doctors are people too.  Regular people.  They have families, they have other interests outside of their work, and they have good days and bad days.  Just like anyone else, they make mistakes.  Years of dealing with a rare illness have taught me that as much as I want them to, doctors don’t know everything.

So maybe I’m not completely in the right here.  Maybe I need the reminder that doctors are human, and as such are prone to their own emotional outbursts.  Maybe certain doctors involved in my care deserve more respect from me, because in their own way they are trying to do their best.  The thing is, I want my doctors to be human.  I detest when doctors have God-complexes because I know that beneath the ego they are human just like me.  But part of being human means doctors should admit when they don’t have the answers.  An excellent doctor in my book will admit he or she doesn’t have all the answers, but is willing to help me find them.  Those are the doctors I have the greatest respect for and get along with the most.

Tuesday, I will start by eating crow.  However, my appointment isn’t going to end there.  Even though my doctor knows more than I do, I am human too and I deserve to be heard out.  I have my own opinions about my care and I have the right to make my own decisions regarding it.  And if my doctor doesn’t respect that, then I may have to take the risk and seek out another doctor’s care.

But, in the meantime, I will keep in mind that all humans deserve a second chance.

For more information about bringing humanism back into medicine, visit The Arnold P. Gold Foundation.

One Comment

  1. Dear Amy
    I would like to thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences so freely and honestly with us. I feel deeply saddened by the difficulties you have to experience in your young life. I really appreciate how articulate you are, how mature and well developed is your style of writing, how intelligent are your conclusions and sensitive your humor.
    Amy, you are a genuine person for whom I thank God that I am able to know.


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