Thursday, September 13, 2007

Who's Your Mama?

You know it's a bit confabulated.....

So one of my patients happened to mention today that her son is a coach in a league one of my kids plays in. I must have known this, she must have mentioned it when I first took her history, eighteen months and two playing seasons ago. Today, at the end of the day, hours after she left and as I was writing progress notes, it suddenly hit me: her son is my kid's coach. It was this funny, disconcerting feeling.

Now the fact that a patient's son coaches my kid isn't really a big deal. Only I wish I could say that my kid is the ideal player, the coach is a wonderful coach, that I've never actually had reason to speak with the coach, or if I did, that it was a warm and rewarding experience. Let's just say that's not the case, the coach is a little weird, my kid once had an issue and I'd felt a need to intervene.

And now I can wonder, who knows what? This particular patient has no qualms about announcing her struggles with psychiatric illness. I know the son knows she has shrink, I can't imagine my name doesn't get uttered here and there-- she comes to sessions and sometimes says "Little Howie said to be sure I tell you such-and-such." Only I have a fairly common last name and like my patient, my family members all seem to have different last names (--Max
has requested that I not publish his last name on the blog). I now can wonder if Coach related to me, Neurotic Mom, all the while thinking You're My Mom's Shrink. Or maybe he worried that she tells me personal things about him. Maybe we've had a whole unspoken relationship that I just missed. So, Coach Howie, if you're out there, rest assured that Mom says all nice things about you.

It's fine that I treat Coach Howie's Mom. This is the part that's disconcerting-- I realized that I relate a bit differently to different people in different places in my life. With patients and their families, I keep it pretty even and I try to remain professional (I hope). No ducks at all. Without even trying, I'm a slightly different person when I'm the doc than when I'm the mom. In my non-doc role, I talk more, I listen less, and I tell raunchier jokes. I might look to Coach Howie for wisdom or understanding. If I'm frustrated I might be more sarcastic than I'd ever be with the family member of a patient. I'd never complain to the family member of a patient, even in a non-clinical setting, that he was an idiot for not starting my kid when the kid he did start was clearly an inferior player. (--oh, I didn't really do that, but it was fun to confabulate).

Coach Howie, you have a lovely mom.