Don’t Be Afraid to Be a Difficult Patient


elaine chart copyOne of my favorite Seinfeld episodes is the one where Elaine snoops inside her medical chart and reads “patient is difficult.”

The doctor takes a look at her rash and says, “Well, this doesn’t look serious,” and writes something in the chart.

“What are you writing?” she asks.

He sneers and walks out the door.

Wanting a fresh start, she goes to see another doctor, and realizes her chart follows her there. The new doctor greets her warmly until he reads the comments.

He glances at her arm and says impatiently, “This doesn’t look serious.”

“But it really itches,” she complains.

He writes something else down in the chart and walks out.

So Kramer, disguised as Dr. van Nostrum, tries to steal the chart, telling the medical office that Elaine is dying.

They don’t buy it and begin a chart on him.

I think my chart must be atrocious by now.

But oddly enough, I don’t care.

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Therese Borchard
I am a writer and chaplain trying to live a simple life in Annapolis, Maryland.

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6 Responses
  1. Vmiller

    Thank you for that article! I am also a bit of a people pleaser. Especially people I feel are in authority. After I received a step up in the diagnosis world, from just major depression to bipolar disorder ll, I was put on one anti-psychotic med after another. They only seemed to make me worse. I felt like a suicidal zombie, and just kept feeling worse and worse. I finally listened to my sister and went to a holistic health center where they helped wean me off of not only antidepressants and antipsychotics but also benzodiazepines, which my body had become dependent on. Going a few hours, let alone one day without those had my nerves so raw I would shake and feel like I was dying. My Dr never even mentioned that they are addictive. So it is just really good to hear you encourage people to listen to their bodies and do research for alternative therapies. I still suffer bouts of depression. In fact I’m struggling to get out of one currently. But I also have good days, even weeks now, and I feel happy sometimes. That never happened when I was ‘following Dr’s orders’. I take a lot of natural supplements now and they keep me feeling relatively good when I’m not going through a depressive episode. That may not sound encouraging to the average person, but I bet to anyone feeling suicidal it sounds like heaven! I encourage everyone who doesn’t feel like their medications are working to look into alternative therapies.

  2. Vmiller

    But don’t go off your meds by yourself! Work with your Doctor or an experienced naturopath/orthomolecular therapist. Or both.

  3. DM

    Totally related to this post. I’ve always tried to be the “perfect patient.”

    You’re post came at the perfect time. I’ve been sitting in the ER for over 7 FRICKEN HOURS “patiently”. Read your post and went up to give them an earful. Thank God I’m not hemorrhaging, otherwise they’d have a lovely lawsuit.

    Thanks for the inspiration.


      1. Donna

        Hi Therese,

        You continue to “hit the nail on the head” over and over again! You go girl!!!!!!!!!!!

        If you have seen my posts on the process of seeking ECT treatments you will see how much trouble I am having! The latest is I called my fam Dr’s office this AM and someone actually answered! I told the girl my name and asked if they had rec’d the notes from the psychiatrist’s office who is preforming the ECT. She didn’t say anything, so I said, “Hello?” She said, “I’m here, I am just checking your file.” I really wanted to tell her that it is good to let the patient know that! But I let that go. She told me that Georgia, the woman from the hospital psy’s office left a message yesterday that the notes would not be available until next week! I saw the Dr on 6/18! He knew how bad I was. I said, “OK thanks”. I thought about it and decided that I could probably get notes from my reg psy sooner. I called back and got the same girl again. I asked her if I could use the notes from my reg psy. She said, “I’m not sure about that?” I said, “I don’t think I can make it much longer, this is a serious problem. I am having trouble dealing with everyday things and now I have to deal with all of this!” She said, “We request this from all our patients, it’s what the Drs want.” I said, “I understand that but I have already talked to Dr M and she knows I was going to do this and she approved.” So I said, “OK” and hung up. I have no way of knowing if Dr M is aware of any of this, she was very understanding when I Iast saw her. I then called my reg psy’s office and the new woman that took the place of Tabitha, who has been with me for the 7 yrs I have been seeing Dr N and helped me with a lot. She is nice but it is just another issue to deal with! She said, “you will have to sign a request form your fam Dr and have them fax it to us. We can send it back ASAP after Dr N signs off on it.” I explained what was happening and she was understanding and told me she was sorry about all the trouble I was having. I said, “If I had cancer everyone would be standing on their toes to get this scheduled, but since it is a mental issue it’s not important or life threatening!” So tomorrow I will have to go to my fam Dr’s office and sign the form. I will insist that they fax it immediately, I will wait until they do!!!!!
        My Mother is always telling me to “be nice!” I have always stood up for myself and I am just plain of “tried of being nice to stupid people who don’t care and don’t do their jobs!!! The people in most Drs offices are rude, don’t seem to care and are stupid! I wonder why they are in the medical field? I know there are a lot of good caring people also but I never seem to find them.
        My point is in answer to your article is that, “Everyone needs to speak up, not be intimidated by their Drs and don’t feel like you are insulting them! If they are insulted then I would change Drs! A truly good Dr will listen to what you have to say and not be insulted by your ?s.

        1. Therese Borchard

          Thanks, Donna. I’m truly sorry you are going through such a hard time, but am so glad that you have a good head on your shoulder!! Inspiring! Thanks, Therese