How To

April 16, 2012

How to Treat a Patient Who’s a Dad

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Written by: William Scheckel
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I caught my doctor in the act of treating not just my problem, but treating me as a dad, too. In the 5 years I’ve been one, it’s the only time it’s happened. Here’s what happened:

Last spring, my doctor told me I’d need surgery on my foot in order to walk normally again. I had been in a lot of pain and was looking forward to getting rid of it, so this wasn’t particularly bad news.

We talked about the procedure and the recovery at length. Since summer was around the corner, I asked when I’d be able to go in the water again. The answer delivered a crushing blow to summer – no ocean or pool for at least three months. The doctor saw my immediate frown and asked, “How old is your kid?” I responded that he was 4 and before I could ask how he knew I had one he said, “I remember when mine were that little. Can you hold out until the fall? They’re only 4 once and I know you don’t want to miss out on the summer. You won’t do any additional damage if you wait, you’ll just keep feeling like you do now.”

I was surprised by the turn in the conversation – no doctor had ever taken my family life into account before. And I was happy because he was right – I didn’t want to miss out on everything that summer would bring. My son loves playing in the waves on the weekend and splashing in the pool in the evening.  And since I love the water, too, it’s a great way to spend some special time together – one where be both actually have a lot of fun. (For the record, when we watch Rio for the hundredth time, I am not actually having fun.)

So I waited, had my summer fun, procrastinated until after Halloween and then had my operation. Last month, when I had my final post-op evaluation, the doctor asked me a slew of questions and then hit again on the most important aspect of it all: How is play time? Are you able to run around with your boy? Any problems at the playground? How long can you horse around without feeling any pain?

I’ve been to doctors often enough in my life to know this is rare and to appreciate it greatly. I got lucky in that both partners at my doctor’s office are dads and realize how important it is to address the important things in a patient’s life.

So when you’re at the doctor next, be sure to ask those questions that make your plan of action fit in at home, too. You don’t get to rewind the clock and a good doctor will take that into account.

Have you ever had a doctor surprise you like this?


Photo source: Okko Pyykkö

About the Author

William Scheckel
Editor-in-Chief of The Fathers' Lounge, Marketing Consultant, Social Media Professor and, of course, Dad. For more on the professional me, visit

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