Doctor, Heal Thyself

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One thing I never thought about before I went to medical school was how much I would be exposed to various illnesses as a physician. I guess you could say it’s an occupational hazard, but it can be downright frightening when you are exposed to some of the most virulent microbes which circulate in communities and in hospital environments. You’re bound to catch something at intervals.

Most people think of hospitals as disease-riddled, and they’re pretty much correct. But there are other places which have the potential to make you too weak to whip a gnat.

One of the worst environments is the pediatric setting, in which walking Petri dishes, also known as children, traipse into the clinic and somehow fling their nasty germs onto you. Before you know it, you are struck with a horrific infection that require an army of medications before you begin to feel human again. I remember spending the majority of my time in every single pediatrics rotation I completed, whether it was as a student, intern, or resident, so ill that I spent my days feeling like I had been hit by a truck, with a pressure cooker for a noggin, fuzzy-brained and miserable from whatever pathogen those little brats had brought to me.

Another microbe-filled gathering place is urgent care, a setting in which I have worked regularly over the past couple of years. Last year, when I was working more shifts than ever, I contracted three upper respiratory infections which progressed to bronchitis, and developed acute gastroenteritis (stomach flu) twice. Thank goodness I always get a flu shot every fall, otherwise I am sure I would have been hit with influenza as well. I see patients who are so sick that they can barely stay awake during their exams, people who have no business being out in public.

I recently saw a young female patient with a 103 degree fever who looked very ill, so I tested her for strep throat and influenza A&B. The nurse on staff asked if I wanted both, to which I replied, “Absolutely. I wouldn’t be surprised if both tests lit up like Christmas trees.” And they did. She actually had both influenza A and streptococcal pharyngitis. Poor girl.

It’s my duty as a physician to care for others, and I take it very seriously. But I will admit that my attitude towards my own illnesses is similar to the attitude of the Black Knight. My attitude is that it’s “only a flesh wound”, or “just a scratch” when I am ill or injured, so when I finally break down and admit that I am ill or injured, I am definitely in a bad place physically.

I suspect this attitude is similar to that of other physicians. So keep that in mind when you see that your provider is under the weather. We are only human as well.

It’s Dr. Naito, NOT Dr. Stacey

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Some of you are in the habit of referring to physicians by their first names, tacking on “doctor” before the name. In all honesty, those of you who do this are quite honestly showing disrespect in doing so, even if it isn’t your intention.

Please bear in mind that we physicians must endure four years of medical school, anywhere from 3 to 7 years of residency training, and for some physicians, additional years spent in fellowships. In addition, we must keep up with continuing medical education (my yearly requirement is at least 50 hours), maintain licensure, and recertify every few years for our board certification credentials.

So when doctors bristle at you calling them, “Doctor Bob”, “Doctor Stacey”, or “Doctor Karen”, don’t be surprised. It’s not cute, it’s far too casual, and again, it’s downright disrespectful.

I do NOT like being referred to as Dr. Stacey at all. I worked very hard to become a physician, and I deserve to be referred to properly. In addition, I refer to other physicians as Dr. (last name) at all times, unless a colleague gives me permission to refer to him or her on a first name basis.

If you have an issue pronouncing a doctor’s last name, ask the doctor for assistance in pronunciation. Sometimes, the physician may suggest that you use the first letter of the last name as an abbreviated version. For example, I could be referred to as “Doctor N”, which I am fine with. I will not respond well to “Doctor Stacey” or “Stacey” by a patient.

In case you were wondering, Naito is pronounced like “night”, with a long “o” at the end.

Are there any medical doctors out there who would like to chime in on this one?

Disrespect

Last month, while working an urgent care shift, I caught a bug from one of my patients which progressed very quickly from a viral upper respiratory illness to a bacterial infection. Because I was so congested, the infection also seeded in my upper airways, and I developed bronchitis. Whenever bronchitis sets in, I am in for a world of hurt, because the coughing jags are so violent that I almost pass out from them since I can’t get a breath in.

In an effort to keep social media world happy, I posted my health status just so people would know why I sort of backed off from social interaction during that time. I felt horrible, and my voice was reduced to a strange, congested baritone mumble.

What irritated me was that several people jumped onto social media with health advice. I understand that people were concerned and trying to be helpful. However, there were two facts which kept floating through my head, and which left me scratching my head over how people thought it was appropriate to post advice.

FACT #1: I never asked for any advice from anyone. I was merely posting facts about my condition.

FACT #2: I am a board-certified family practice physician who works regularly in the urgent care setting. Don’t you think I would KNOW how to take care of myself? Why would anyone offer unsolicited health advice to a physician?

I couldn’t help but be bothered by the influx of posts suggesting things like, “drink tea with honey”, or “take zinc”. As an urgent care doctor, I am just as likely to give general, common sense advice about upper respiratory infections as I am to give prescriptions for medications and order in-office nebulizer treatments. I know all about zinc, tea with honey, vitamin C, salt water gargles, etc.

Besides, I ended up needing a course of antibiotics, two prescription inhalers, two prescription cough medications, and three over-the-counter decongestants. No amount of tea with honey, zinc, or salt gargles would have fought off the infection and reactive bronchitis I had developed. One person on Facebook hounded me via Messenger, and when I said I couldn’t chat, sent me a bizarre set of instructions for a concoction which included red wine. I became irritated and berated him for giving me health advice, whereupon he took the opportunity to insult me for no good reason. His disrespect was so blatant that I blocked him. I don’t need that kind of hostility in my life.

Sorry, but I think it is presumptuous and insulting to attempt to give health advice to doctors. In the age of Google, so many people fall under the assumption that they are suddenly experts when it comes to just about everything. Don’t trust everything you read on Google!

When I really think about it, I doubt that people would give automotive advice to an auto mechanic, or financial advice to their CPA’s. So why insult someone with 7 years of medical training and 14 years of experience as a practicing physician?

I believe I have made my point.

Yes I Write Prescriptions. No I Won’t Write One For Your Brother.

As a fully licensed, board-certified physician, I have written my share of prescriptions over the years for medications, imaging studies, etc. I recognize that it is an incredible honor and privilege to be able to write scripts, and I never take advantage of it. However, there are people out there who think nothing of asking me to write prescriptions for them, simply because I am a fully credentialed physician conveniently standing there in front of them. What is especially irritating is when people dare to ask me to conduct curbside consultations or write prescriptions for their family members or loved ones who not only aren’t there with them to be examined, but who are complete strangers to me. Tell me, how in the world am I supposed to conduct a medical evaluation on a complete stranger, sight unseen? These same individuals also tend to get offended when I kindly tell them that their loved one needs to be seen in person by a qualified medical professional who can assess their condition and administer the appropriate treatment.

So if you are the kind of person who is in the habit of asking doctors to do similar favors for you or your family, please understand that your requests are unreasonable and inappropriate. If your husband, sister, son, cousin, or best friend needs medical attention, do the responsible thing and either tell that person to go see a doctor, or take that person to the doctor.

Of Orifices and Zero Freedom

As a physician, I have had the incredible honor and privilege of studying every part of the human body, to the most minute detail. I have hovered over cadavers which were fileted and displayed for they eyes of inquisitive medical students, and scrubbed in on colon resections, open heart surgery, neurosurgery, cataract removal, etc. During my first month of internship as a newly minted physician, I massaged a dying heart with my gloved hands (no, the patient didn’t survive). I have also delivered over 40 infants via vaginal and Cesarean methods, and have pronounced the demise of patients in the wards. In fact, there are many stories I have collected over the years, some incredibly sad, some disgusting, some frightening, and some infuriating, but all true, and all part of my experience as a doctor.

I knew full well that by signing up for an education in medicine, I would be subjected to disgusting, morbid, frightening things, and that I would face mortality on a regular basis. However, after several years of working in family practice, I began to notice that I wasn’t thrilled with the fact that I examined orifices of every kind on a very regular basis. Whether it was a nostril, a mouth, an ear canal, an anus, a urethral meatus (layman’s term pee-hole), or vagina I had to examine, I was never thrilled about it, and the orifices below the belt were certainly much more bothersome to address. My intense dislike of such examinations, combined with the tedium of primary care and the low insurance reimbursement for services and procedures provided, caused me to retreat from primary care and focus more on the areas I had more interest in, namely, physical medicine, cosmetic dermatology, and anti-aging medicine, all of which are much cleaner and which do not require me to conduct examinations on private parts.

Another feature of primary care which made me cringe was the intense demand on a practitioner’s time. The only time it ever seemed reasonable for me to literally lose sleep night after night as a physician was when I was in training. At this point, there is no way you could convince me that such a thing is healthy, and I refuse to sign up for that. I won’t give up weekends to take on three stacked 12-hour work shifts, and I will not give up the few holidays I celebrate (Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day) in order to work. As it is, I give up other major holidays to work, but since the work I perform on those holidays is in bodybuilding and fitness, I don’t mind it at all.

I love being a physician, and I find it incredibly rewarding to make a positive impact on my patients. However, I will not sacrifice balance in my life, or the freedom to pursue my other interests, in order to prove to society what a good physician I am. I don’t believe for a second that running oneself into the ground working as a physician ever sends a positive message to others. I don’t ever want to be the kind of doctor who is saddled with so many chart notes to write that an entire weekend is devoted to completing them. Not for me.

Lasty, I think it’s so strange that society still assumes that doctors are supposed to give their time and knowledge at a moment’s notice, on demand, yet I don’t see those same demands placed on people in other industries. I can’t tell you how many times I have been in a brief conversation with a complete stranger, who dares to ask me a medical question as soon as my profession is revealed. I swear, one of these days I am going to get a t-shirt made that says, “THE DOCTOR IS OFF-DUTY RIGHT NOW…NO MEDICAL QUESTIONS PLEASE”!

Of Bikinis And Medical Degrees

In contrast with the illusion that society is prepared to welcome empowered women with open arms, I have met with a tremendous amount of opposition when I am evaluated for my medical expertise. Wanna know why? Because I competed onstage in blingy bikinis, because I continue to model in bikinis, and because I am not afraid to flaunt what I am blessed to still have. And it pisses me off.

You would think that societal influences have relaxed enough to allow a female physician to flaunt her femininity without getting dinged for it, but I continue to encounter resistance. In keeping with this double standard, there aren’t too many female docs who are confident enough to push the envelope and post images which may be considered more alluring. Female doctors are expected to remain covered up, with very little skin showing, in social media posts. I’m not talking about jeans and a t-shirt. I’m talking about professional business attire and a white coat, or scrubs. Evidently women who are physicians aren’t allowed to reveal who they are outside of the clinical setting. That’s ridiculous, and I refuse to give in.

If a client has a narrow-minded view of physicians and expects me to fit the mold of an uber-conservative nerdy person, that client will quickly reject me. I think it’s utter nonsense that my credibility has been questioned, simply because I also happen to be a model. I have a LIFE. I have a certain manner of dressing which includes a certain fashion flair. The way I dress for work is by no means gaudy or slutty, but because of my abhorrence of ultra conservative clothing and the white doctor’s coat, it is obvious that I refuse to play the stereotype game.

Tell me this: how the hell am I supposed to feel empowered when narrow-minded idiots insist on throwing their judgment on me? I admire a strong, intelligent, educated, accomplished person who also happens to beat the aging process and who isn’t afraid of flaunting it. Such people are courageous, not scandalous.
As a fully credentialed, board certified physician who also happens to be deeply involved in fitness, bodybuilding and modeling, I know that I stand out a bit in a sea of medical professionals, and to be honest, I am proud of it. A good portion of the world also seems ready for such empowered career women, but when those women are being considered for an ad campaign or other large scale project, they are quickly criticized and cast aside for their fortitude and boldness.

I don’t see why I should feel a drop of shame for modeling in bikinis. What the &*%@ is wrong with bikinis? Women all over the world wear bikinis, and even dare to go sans suits in some locales. So why should I be made to feel like I am being scandalous if I model in a bikini? I have modeled my entire life, and I have no plans to stop at all, especially if I have a physique which is bikini-worthy.

My life is so varied, full and exciting that I can easily escape the dry and often depressing climate of medicine and enjoy something that has twists and turns. None of my other pursuits diminish what I bring to the table as a healer. If anything, they add a humanness and relatability which I think my patients appreciate. I have said before and will say again that I have never been, nor will I ever be, a “typical” physician (whatever that means). So don’t try to mold me into something I am not.

Hot Female Doctors

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Over the past few years, several male physicians, including Dr. Travis Stork of The Doctors and Dr. Mike (aka doctor.mike on Instagram), have enjoyed some media attention as a result of their good looks. Never mind that these docs have endured years of medical training (in Dr. Mike’s case, he’s still going through it as a resident). Their followers are more interested in celebrating how hot they are. However, I want to know where all the hot lady doctors are?

As a fully credentialed, board certified physician who also happens to be deeply involved in fitness, bodybuilding and modeling, I know that I stand out a bit in a sea of medical professionals, and to be honest, I am proud of it. Yes, I get plenty of criticism for modeling in bikinis, but I don’t see why I should feel a drop of shame for doing so. Women all over the world wear bikinis, and go sans suits in some locales. It’s not a crime or a scandal to wear a bikini, or to show my legs or midsection. I have modeled my entire life, and I have no plans to stop at all, especially if I have a physique which is bikini-worthy. Because of this, I have become known as a “hot doctor”.

You would think that societal influences have relaxed enough to allow a female physician to flaunt her femininity without getting dinged for it, but I continue to see resistance all over social media. In fact, it recently came to my attention that there aren’t too many female docs who are confident enough to push the envelope and post images which may be considered more alluring. It is still considered “proper” and customary for a female doctor to remain covered up in social media posts. I’m not talking about jeans and a t-shirt. I’m talking about professional business attire and a white coat, or scrubs. So does that mean that women who are physicians aren’t allowed to reveal who they are outside of the clinical setting? That’s ridiculous.

My life is so varied, full and exciting that I can easily escape the dry and often depressing climate of medicine and enjoy something that has twists and turns. None of my other pursuits diminish what I bring to the table as a healer. If anything, they add a humanness and relatability which I think my patients appreciate. I have said before and will say again that I have never been, nor will I ever be, a “typical” physician (whatever that means). I don’t talk about medical cases and read medical tomes when I am away from the office. Many of my colleagues are so unbalanced that they will eat, breathe and live medicine constantly, but that is not my style at all. Some of them are also social misfits and cannot talk about a non-medical topic without stumbling and bumbling. The social awkwardness of some physicians is so painful to witness that I find myself cringing and looking for a quick exit when social hour begins at a conference or medical dinner.

In response to some criticism I received about posting professional swimsuit images on my main Instagram account, I established a medical Instagram profile to appease the haters somewhat, as well as legitimize my medical practice. However, I still post what I WANT to post on my main account, and if my posting habits continue to solidify the “hot doctor” label I have been given, then SO BE IT!