Doctors are probably among the hardest people in the world to shock.
From the heartbreaking to the outright bizarre, they have seen and heard it all before , all while maintaining patient confidentiality and a soothing bedside manner. Being a judgement-free zone is part of the job, and this extends to scenarios where the rest of us might buckle and react.
Such as when they encounter a patient with incredibly poor hygiene. Demonstrating how unshakable medical professionals often have to be, one doctor reveals what happens with such patients.
"You get used to it," Maureen Boehm explains on Quora . "Never, ever, ever embarrass a patient about that or anything else. They are in a vulnerable position.
"They have to reveal sometimes uncomfortable information to someone that they perceive is in a position of authority. It’s not easy. I don’t make it harder."
She continues, "If a patient has a hygiene problem, this can be a big clue to the physician. Perhaps their poor self care is due to dementia or mental illness.
"That requires some gentle probing question about what’s really up.
If an older person came in and it was evident that they were not remembering to bathe, perhaps they are not remembering to eat or takes their medications.
"Maybe they are no longer safe in their home. That is a big red flag that tells me that it’s time to call in the family and the social workers for further evaluation and some tough decisions. Boehm goes on to recount one particularly heartbreaking situation she had to navigate.
"I do have to admit that once, while I was placing a femoral line (its like an IV in the groin) for emergent dialysis, that the poor lady had lice that crawled out of her pubic hair and up my arm.
"I was so intent on getting the line placed that I didn't notice until I had quite a few of them on me.
When I looked down and saw them I let out a yip and jumped back. I just wasn't expecting that. I still feel badly about it.
"I know I probably made her feel badly. She looked down at the floor and told me that she could only afford a place that was infested with lice. She just could not get rid of them.
"My heart just broke.
"Bottom line, it’s not about me. Nobody wants to smell or have bugs. Sometimes that is simply how it is. We do the best we can. I’m here to help. That’s my job."