do you laugh or cry?

ah the life of psychiatry…i don’t think i could have picked a better time to post this.

 every morning, i round on patients with the psychiatrist, sometimes earlier on my own, sometimes just with that psychiatrist. in the afternoon, it’s basically my prerogative whether or not i wish to go back and talk to them again. i usually do because we have lecture late in the afternoon/evening.

today was one such day. i was interviewing a patient for the first time on my own, and in general, things were going pretty well. he was answering my questions with appropriate answers and asking me questions relevant to his health – he at one point named the different kinds of lithium, something i don’t know and i’m the medical student.

at this point, he asks me what i am (when you see many people in the hospital as a patient, it becomes difficult to distinguish what people are, especially since everyone apparently now wears a white coat…a topic for another day.) anyway, i tell him i am medical student and that i will be a doctor.  then the conversation goes something like this:

“oh i’m a doctor. you wouldn’t believe it but i am. mine name is dr. mezbaum.”

“could you spell that for me?”

“m-e-z-b-a-u-m”

“what type of doctor are you?” as i write down this information…

“oh you don’t need to write this down…sometimes i just say things. because i’m a robot. have you heard of zapping?”

thinking he’s talking about electroconvulsive therapy i say yes.

“well i’m a robot, and i’m being controlled by the police department. and every time they zap me, i do something. i worked at the general hospital for 75 years as dr.___ (couldn’t understand the name) and at the city hospital for 50 years as dr. ______ (different name i still couldn’t understand). i did radiology for awhile; i really like radiology.”

“do you just work as a doctor?”

“no i do other stuff too. i build homes. hundreds of homes. i work for the president.”

“you must be very busy.”

the patient shrugs, “well, that’s the life of a robot.”

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