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Not A Healthy Conversation

, , , | Healthy | April 24, 2018

(I work for the UK National Health Service. This particular branch receives referrals for patients, and my job is to phone the patients to offer our service and get more info on their health, lifestyle, etc. Because of the nature of the branch, most people I speak to are in their 70s to 90s — and a few older! — but I do get the occasional younger person. I can see from this particular patient’s file that she is in her mid-30s.)

Me: “Good morning. Is this Mrs. [Patient]?”

Patient: *deep, gravelly voice* “Yes.”

(I am shocked because she is in her 30s, but she sounds at least 89.)

Me: “I’m calling from—” *quickly explains service and what we offer*

Patient: *almost before I finish speaking* “Yes, please. Anything to help.”

Me: “Fantastic. I’ll just go through a few some questions about your health, and we’ll see what would be best for you.”

(I begin with the standard questions, and she tells me the medical conditions she suffers from, which include severe COPD and bronchitis — evidenced by her gravelly voice and breathlessness when she talks. She has several other conditions; in short, she’s generally not in good health.)

Me: “Do you smoke?”

Patient: “Yes. About 60 a day.”

Me: *bangs forehead against desk*

(The job required I ask if she wanted help in stopping, but I knew before she even answered that she was going to refuse. I guess she wasn’t as desperate about her referral as she said she was. I left that temp post two weeks later.)