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Wearing Two Hats

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

By Beth Adams

Most physicians make bad patients, and I am no exception. I much prefer sitting on the stool, laptop in front of me, changing medications, ordering tests, and offering advice instead of being on the receiving end of those things. Perhaps it’s for those reasons that I dislike my own cardiology visits so much.

While most of my friends and a number of my patients know about my CHD, most of my colleagues do not, which makes for interesting situations periodically. It’s not that it’s a secret, necessarily, it just doesn’t come up in daily conversation all that often. “Hey, did you see the Eagles game last night, and oh, by the way, did you know I have a CHD?” Perhaps not.

Showing up for my own office visits, echos and other testing has definitely raised a few eyebrows over the years, and most people are at a loss for words when they put two and two together, realizing that one of their adult congenital cardiologists is also a CHD patient. My favorite was when the MRI tech looked at me and asked if I was getting scanned simply so I could have a different level of empathy for my patients. My response was that spending over an hour strapped into the MRI scanner unable to move while jackhammers and an African tribal drummer pounded away a few feet from my head definitely exceeded my empathy limit!

The last time I lay in the MRI scanner I got to thinking about my CHD friends and realized that at least eight of them are physicians and three are cardiologists. I’m not sure what to make of this other than to propose that if the physical limitations of your CHD turn you into a bookworm when you are a kid, maybe you gravitate toward higher education and wind up in medical school. Maybe it’s to fulfill some inner need to be the one calling the shots for a change — pun intended!

The topic of a recent blog was “I Hate CHD.” I don’t hate my CHD — quite the opposite, in fact. My CHD made me the person and physician that I am today, and without it, I am certain that I would not be an ACHD cardiologist.

To quote one of my mentors, “You know, you have to come out of the closet [to the ACHD community] about your CHD eventually.” Well gang, I’m out. I am a proud, card-carrying ACHDer and have the scars to prove it. Some days I wear my cardiologist hat, and other days I wear my ACHDer hat… but that doesn’t mean I will ever enjoy being the patient!


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