I am a baby boomer, maybe what you consider the scourge of your practice. When I walk into your office, perhaps you see anemic Medicare reimbursement, knees that will soon need replacement and a don’t-tell-me-sonny-I’m-half-your age attitude.
But, I’d like to give you some advice, which my age permits. It’s in your best interest to treat me with the same respect and attention as you give your millennial patients, at least those who acknowledge that they won’t live forever.
I advise you to stop treating boomers like old people and face the possibility that we’ll be around for a long while.
Don’t tell me, when I gasp as you diagnose me with arthritic knees, that the “warranty on my body doesn’t last forever.” If this is your idea of a pep talk, you may need to go to a Tony Robbins speech to get some pointers. You probably haven’t heard that 60 is the new 40. Bad knees don’t keep boomers down.
When I balk at your diagnosis of cataracts, kindly spare me your platitudes about your 30-year old lungs with diminished capacity as you climb the steps. That is no way to show empathy. My body and I will not tolerate it.
I’ve been known to faint when doctors discounted me. My lizard-brain fight-or-flight instinct has kicked into gear when one of your brethren has blown me off, or stuck me with a needle too aggressively, or aggravated my fear of pain with the words “Yes, this will hurt like hell.”
In each of these cases, I checked out. Each time, a doctor with a bad attitude propelled my inner voice to scream “Let’s get outta here!” as I melted away into oblivion by the time the doctor realized “Uh, oh. I went too far this time.”
My secret weapon is vasovagal syncope, a mouthful of words that means my body tells me to faint when certain triggers are present. According to the Mayo Clinic, vasovagal syncope occurs when you faint because your body overreacts to certain triggers, such as the sight of blood or extreme emotional distress. In my case, it’s doctors who blow me off.
For some people, fainting is a relatively simple process that results from situations that make sense to the casual observer. For me, however, I spring into fight or flight mode when I even remotely sense the possibility of the likelihood of the potential for danger. In other words, I am a wuss, especially in medical situations, and inevitably when a health care provider does not acknowledge my need for information, understanding or courtesy.
And, so, if you see me entering your office, I advise you to take me seriously rather than risk my wrath, unconsciously hurled, because I usually have no idea that it’s coming. It’s not my intention to leave my senses like that. But if you insist on using your worst bedside manner or nonchalant attitude, I have no recourse but to protect myself.
A boomer disgusted with medical care that just doesn’t care