My Very Pasadena column From Pasadena Magazine Top Docs 2017:
In honor of the Top Doc issue, I thought I’d weigh in on few pressing medical etiquette issues. I’m not a doctor, but I did grow up with a mother who lived by the motto, “No elbows on the table,” indicative of a genetic predisposition to manners. Plus, I once wrote an advice column for O, the Oprah Magazine, so that should qualify me for an advanced degree in something, like “Extreme Emotional Awareness” or “Feeling all the Feelings.” Here goes:
Should you post photos of your rash on Facebook?
Or your blister. Or your festering wound. Or anything on your body that is raised, red or angry in any way. This is a big no for me. I wish my FB Friends would stop doing it. I want photos of new babies, cute dogs and prom dates on my social media feed, not photos of your inflamed pimple with the caption, “What is this on my face?” Um, the grossest thing I’ve ever seen. First off, that selfie is an assault to my sense of art direction. Please, don’t get any closer with that camera lens. Try a filter, buddy.
Secondly, what are you hoping to gain? If it’s an actual diagnosis from a group of people that would rather be looking at puppies, babies and prom dates, you will be sorely disappointed in the accuracy of their abilities. Dr. Facebook is a Worst-Case Scenario Medical Provider, so the most conservative response would be along the lines of, “It could be something really bad, so you should cut off your head.” According to a 2015 Harvard Medical School study, even “Symptom Checkers’ on real medical sites have only about a 1 in 3 chance of getting a correct diagnosis. I’m not sure that guy Keith you haven’t seen since third grade is really going to be able to nail your dermatological issues in the comment section of your horrifying photo.
The corollary to seeking medical advice from Facebook is receiving unsolicited medical advice after posting what you think is a pretty good photo of yourself at a party. Also, a hard no from me, though I can’t seem to stop it from happening. Previous comments have included: You look so tired, try melatonin. You look bloated, are you taking turmeric? And, my all-time fave: Your forehead is very large, you should try bangs. (All true.)
Is it a good idea to crowd-source medical advice from co-workers?
Unless you work in an actual doctor’s office, see above. Still a guy named Keith with no training assessing your medical condition based on your cyberchondriac tendencies (Paging Dr. Google. It’s syphilis! It’s rabies! It’s Mad Cow!) Plus, there’s bound to be one crackpot in the cubicles who will seize upon your self-diagnosed pancreatitis as a chance to send you endless links about the miracle of supplements or the dangers of “toxicity,” whatever that is. The only medical advice I want from co-workers is, “Take the rest of the day off and get a massage.”
The workplace is the wrong place discuss personal issues that may affect your future employability. No one wants to sit next to the Lady with Mad Cow. Stick to planning birthday parties in the break room, spending hours on Pinterest studying place settings for your daughter’s wedding and dissing your loud co-worker when she goes to the restroom.
How do you feel about making eye contact in the waiting room?
You know, honestly, not good. It’s a small town and we’ve all run into fellow Pasadenans at the doctor’s office, but let’s not pretend it’s a social setting like the nail salon or the checkout line at Pavilions. I like to imagine that I have a Cone of Invisibility around me as I page through Fit Pregnancy Magazine in the Ob/Gyn’s waiting room, a periodical I still enjoy even though I haven’t been pregnant in 19 years. I believe other patients desire the same. All of us are here; none of us are here. Let’s face it, some medical procedures are uncomfortable—both to experience and to talk about. Or even to make eye contact with. There’s no fun follow-up to, “So, are you here for that invasive ultrasound?”
What about talking to acquaintances in the elevator after an appointment?
First, let me suggest switching all your doctors to those who practice on the ground floor because no transportation system in the world is as slow as the elevators in a medical office building. Dumbwaiters are speedier. If finding a stable of ground floor docs is impossible and you must make the interminable ride from 4 to the parking garage, employ the Nod and Stare. I nod at my acquaintance and then I stare really hard at the lighted numbers above the elevator doors as if my life depended upon it. I don’t want to know what procedures are happening to you and no way you are getting that information from me. Nod and stare, people.
Want More Very Pasadena from Lian Dolan? Here are some columns:
The Good, Scary, Safe Halloween