Dear Well-Meaning Healthcare Professional

Oh your heart is in the right place!  You are a dear.  You might be the 75 year old physician, or the 22 year old nurse, or the 40 year old PA.  To a person you went into this field with a desire to help or heal or provide comfort, and for the most part you do.  You smile kindly, you nod appropriately, you act like you know exactly what I’m talking about, you have seen this before and you are not shocked a bit.

I need to give you some advice.  If you need to ask me about my illicit drug use, my risky sexual behavior, my tobacco addiction, my alcohol use, my depression, my triglycerides, my cholesterol, or my blood pressure, and if any of my responses trigger in you an infantilizing need to parent or scold or condescend or advise– SHUT UP.

Here’s the thing.  I haven’t gotten to this age without knowing that certain behaviors are bad for me.  But every time you tell me that smoking is harmful as though I don’t know it already is another reason in a catalog of reasons why I shouldn’t be honest with you.  Every time you, who indulges in 1.5 creme de menthes per calendar year (and then brags about it like you can handle your alcohol), ask me (who wouldn’t touch a creme de menthe because it sounds like a regurgitated Shamrock shake kissed on the cheek by a bottle of vodka and whose drink of choice is Maker’s Mark straight up with a water chaser followed by four more Maker’s Marks) if I’ve ever thought about a 12 step program, you further push me into the “1-3 drinks per week” category on your forms.  If your aim is to make me feel bad, you’ve succeeded.  If your aim is to get the truth out of me, you are failing.  Seriously, grade F.

I know that you want me to be healthy, and I know that you need a complete picture of my past and present. So here’s the practical advice that accompanies the shushing: pass me a single sheet of paper asking about habits or behaviors or risk factors that are difficult to change.  Tell me that you need to know the truth about these things in order to prescribe medicine or treatment plans effectively.  Tell me that you assume, because change is hard, that I have no intention of changing my behavior until I TELL YOU IT IS MY INTENTION TO CHANGE.   In other words, treat me like a grown-up and let me die at a pace that’s comfortable to me.

Sincerely and with thanks,

The Clown with the Disturbingly High Numbers in This or That