Doctor-splain-ing (verb) The way a doctor explains medical issues to a patient in a manner that is considered condescending or patronizing
Doctor: Ms. Doe, you have diabetes. What that means is that you have too much sugar in your blood because you eat too many concentrated sweets and you lead a very sedentary lifestyle. You’re also fat. You need to eat less Snickers bars, go for a walk, and lose weight. If you don’t make these changes you may go blind, lose your legs, have a stroke or heart attack, or be put on dialysis because your kidneys will fail. Now here are 3 new medications for you to take; one to protect your kidneys, one to lower your blood sugar, and one to lower your cholesterol. I think that I have been very clear. This isn’t rocket science. Now, do you have any questions?
In case you didn’t already know it, when you and your doctor are in a room together for your checkup, the smartest person in that room is NOT you (the same goes for me when I’m a patient).
I’ve done it. I’ve doctorsplained.
A patient and her mother came into the office. Her mother was not happy with her daughter’s progress with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Her daughter was a grown woman, but her mother spoke for her. She pulled out her iPhone and pulled up an article from the internet that she wanted me to read about Butter-ic Acid.
WTF is Butter-ic Acid?
You don’t know? You obviously don’t read much on my daughter’s illness. It’s made from butter. If my daughter just ate more butter, her medical issues would get better. That’s what my research has shown me. Just Google it. And that’s what I’ve told her to do, eat more butter.
I chuckled a little. This lady is looney tunes. And then I doctorsplained.
Ma’am, I don’t rely on Google for my medical information, I rely on Randomized Double-Blind Placebo Controlled Studies. Otherwise known as science. You have to be careful about what you read on the internet. You have to know your sources and you have to be able to interpret the information that you are reading.
I said this while looking over my glasses that were perched low on my nose. Studious. Pretentious-like.
I refused to read the article.
Her mom was pissed.
I completed the visit, completely ignoring the mom and only talking to the patient. When I had a break from seeing patients, guess what I did?
I Googled butter-ic acid. I know, I’m a hypocrite.
It turns out she was referring to butyric acid. D’uh. Which is found as a byproduct of fermentation of fiber by bacteria in the gut. Or when butter goes rancid. And it also smells like vomit. There are theories that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and changes in gut flora may be connected. There is ongoing research in this field. You can’t really ingest more butyric acid unless you like the taste and smell of vomit. You have to eat fiber and rely on the gut bacteria to make butyric acid, which turns out may be important in treating IBS and other intestinal diseases.
So she was half right. Except what she needed wasn’t more butter, it was more fiber, and maybe some probiotics. And maybe a little less momsplaining.