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A lot of the time, doctors say and do just the right thing and we leave happy. This story is about the other times—the ones when a highly-trained MD blurts out something so rude, cruel, clueless, or shocking you want to send them back to Bedside Manner 101. My personal favorite WTF moment was when I went to a very young gynecologist complaining of a urinary tract infection and she said, "I'd expect this more from my patients in their 20s who are still having lots of sex."
Okay, Dr. Gross-Stereotyper! Who doesn't, incidentally, know much about UTIs!
Then there was the moment, mid C-section with son #2, when I overheard my OB instruct his student, "You have to be very careful not to nick the bladder or bowel." Yes, please! Good thing I had an epidural in me or I would have leapt right off the table.
Awkward as they were, though, my exchanges were nothing compared with these tales of physicians with absolutely no filter:
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Jo, 48, Brooklyn, NY
"When I told my Ob/Gyn (who I had been going to for years) that was I thinking of becoming a single mother he said, 'You will never date again, no man would want you.' And he said that I should take the money I had saved and 'buy a condo in South Carolina.' I didn’t stay long enough in his office to ask, 'Why South Carolina!?'"
Marian, 26, San Diego, CA
"When he was working on a filling, my (former) dentist said, 'Oops.' I think there are certain people who must remove words like 'Oops' from their vocabularies: surgeons, OB/GYNs, bridge engineers. Dentists, who literally work inside your face, fall into that category."
Elisa, 49, Mamaroneck, NY
"August, 2000, I was newly pregnant after many, many months of trying. I started bleeding. The ob/gyn on call, who was not one of my regular doctors, said to me, 'Well, if you're going to lose it, you're going to lose it.' I was hysterical. An hour later, my gastroenterologist (I have ulcerative colitis) returned my call. He calmed me down, and sure enough the baby was fine."
Laura, 31, Astoria, NY
"When my primary care doctor was unavailable, I went to another doctor in her practice. I thought I was having a heart problem (thankfully, it turned out to be a pulled sternum and exercise-induced asthma). Instead of reassuring me that my scary symptoms weren't too serious, the doctor spent an hour telling me about how she could have been an Olympic-level runner, but then became a doctor, and that she went to Harvard. I stopped listening. The brags were the opposite of good bedside manner … more like good BRAGside manner."
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Nicole, 23, New York, NY
"When I was getting my first ever gyno exam at age 21, I winced at the pain of her inserting the speculum, and she scoffed and said, 'Oh stop, it’s no bigger than your boyfriend.'"
Jay, 45, Carrollton, VA
"A doctor told that my heart beats too fast. He said everyone's heart has a finite number of beats and that I was fine but I was going to use my beats up faster than most other people. I believe that was the day my anxiety needed to be medicated."
Lindsey, 23, Philadelphia, PA
"When I was about 13, I had a strange rash on my arm. My mom took me to the (male) pediatrician and he was unsure what it was. He asked if I was on my period, which I was and he replied, 'Oh, well I guess it could be Toxic Shock Syndrome, but what do I know? I’m not a girl!' I couldn't believe he could be so sexist and also trivialize a serious health problem.”
Melissa, 45, San Francisco, CA
"Mid root canal, I heard the oral surgeon curse loudly enough for me to take my earbuds out, just in time to hear her say, 'I can't believe I just did that! Well, we can fix it, I guess."
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Sara, 51, New York, NY
"I have deformed, arthritic hips and went to a very famous holistically-oriented doctor to see if there was anything I could do instead of surgery. He swiftly handed me a script for 90 Oxycontin with refills. 'I don't think I need a drug addiction on top of my other problems,' I told him. 'Oh you won't get addicted,' he pshawed. This was years ago, but I don't think he ever read a newspaper."
Cathy, 39, Seattle, WA
"I was undergoing fertility treatments and feeling really hormonal from the drugs. When I told my doctor, he said, 'I think you need to get out of the house more. Why don't you get a job at the mall?' As if working at Cinnabon was the answer."
Sue, 49, Lenox, MA
"After a doctor started to perform a minor surgical procedure on me in her office, she said—after SHE was not able to control my bleeding—'You're making a mess!' And she finished with 'You might need to stay and clean up your mess.' I later found that she was let go from her previous practice for poor bedside manner."
Maureen, 37, Locust Valley, NY
"My tooth cracked. The dentist asked what caused it. I said, 'Unfortunately, I enjoy 8 blow pops a day." And he said, 'Good practice, eh?' What a creep!"