DR. HOOK- Love me, do: Patients want more than pills

Gilligan's Island was on for only three seasons, but with all the re-runs it seems like it was on for at least 10 years. Even as a kid, I wanted to "vote off" Gilligan as if it were Survivor. They could have been rescued a million times– unlike the folks trapped on Lost– but nooooooooo, Gilligan always messed up things.

I always wondered why the millionaires, Lovey and Thurston, would go on a three-hour tour run by a small boat and crew. Didn't they have their own yacht and captain? Ginger, the movie star, should have been drinking mimosas on a yacht as well, with Cary Grant. Now, the professor and Mary Ann (notice how the two more normal people are named at the end of the song) seem more likely to go on a boat tour of this sort.  

Once, Mary Ann got conked on the head and woke up thinking she was Ginger. So she put on a show and sang, "I want to be loved by you, and you, and nobody else but you..." until she finally fainted under the stress of having no talent. Don't we all just want to be loved?

Patients want to be "loved" by their doctors, or at least cared about. Feeling cared about is a good thing when you're a patient. Like Barbra Streisand sang, "People who need people are the luckiest people in the world."

But it's getting harder and harder for doctors and patients to bond as the supply vs. demand ratio decreases. More patients are surfing the Internet to get their medical questions answered– something hard to do during a 15-minute office visit. For some, the Internet provides enough information to satisfy.  For others, it provokes anxiety and some resentment towards their "unavailable" doctor.  

"Why didn't my doctor tell me that my ear could fall off with this medicine?" 

 "Why didn't my doctor tell me I could lose my hearing if I don't take this medicine?"  

You just can't win.

How we express love and affection varies from person to person. I often have lipstick on my cheek (Don't report me! Keep reading.) because my patients kiss me and say, "Love you." As expressive as I am, believe it or not, I'm not the type who says, "I love you." I don't think Korean people say that. We just yell at each other and then laugh 10 minutes later. I read that President Nixon never said, "I love you," though he also did say he wasn't a crook. Hmm.

In general, I really do love my patients, want to see them do well, support them when they aren't doing well, and wish I could spend more time with each of them. But sometimes doctors become emotionally wiped out. I've told patients they have a very bad disease, and then right afterwards seen patients smiling because they're there just for an annual wellness visit. Changing hats quickly can mess up the hair.

We all have demands in one way or another. Sometimes a patient feels like his/her demands are not being met by the doctor and so feels neglected– slighted. In these cases, an open discussion can improve the dynamics between doctor and patient. However, a lot of patients fear the "confrontation" and switch doctors instead. But I think of it like seeing a hair stylist. You express your concerns, have a dialogue, and try to get the best look (both perspective and physically). Get your hair cut off, don't cut off the hair stylist.

   If Gilligan were on Lost, I wonder if he would be one of the "good ones," but something tells me he would bite the dust via the smoke monster. It's not that I don't love Gilligan. It's just that his 15-minute appointment is over.

Dr. Hook cracks a joke or two, but he's a renowned physician with a local practice. Email him with your questions.