Mr. Stacey was the awesomest of all humanities professors when I was a student at Oral Roberts University. Why was he so awesome? Was it because of his LEGO hair, that appeared to be painted on and aligned perfectly with the ear piece on his glasses? Partially, as this became the subject of may of hours of discussion amongst us undergrads. Was it the fact that he rarely cracked a smile and was likely a cylon? Maybe. He was awesome mainly because he refused to answer stupid questions. He wouldn’t spoon feed us the obvious or repeat something he just said. He treated us like adults and told us what we needed to know without a lot of fluff.
As a doctor, obviously I want patients to feel comfortable asking me anything. I answer all questions with as much empathy and compassion as I can muster. Sometimes, though, I wonder if women really think before they speak. It’s said that there is no such thing as a ‘stupid question’, but I have to disagree. Here are some of the winners I’ve been asked over the years, that would have made Mr. Stacey roll his eyes and say, “Next Question!”
10. Did you deliver your own baby?
Why yes, I sliced my own stomach opened and pulled out my baby. Because I am, in fact, just that good. I have been asked this by people, even after they know I had a c-section. All the women in my practice have been asked this, which I find intriguing. Speaking of women:
9. Since you have all women working in your office, are you all on the same menstrual cycle?
Surprisingly, I have been asked this weird and personal question many times. We don’t really discuss our cycles around the office. Menstrual synchrony has never been scientifically proven, by the way.
8. Do I need to take my tampon out before you do the pap smear?
Yuck, yes you do. Additionally about once a month, a women will change into the gown, put herself into position on the exam table, then as I go to perform the pap smear, I will discover that she still has her underwear on. This always leaves me quite befuddled. There is a subset of women who do not understand their basic anatomy.
7. Will this medicine hurt my baby?
This is not as much a stupid question as an poorly worded question. Almost every time I prescribe a medication to a pregnant woman, she will ask me this. Yes, I went to school for 12 million years, so I could poison your baby with Benedryl. Obviously, I would not prescribe a harmful medication to a pregnant woman. A better phrasing would be ‘what are the risks of this medication in pregnancy’ as ALL medications have risks.
6. Will you see my boyfriend as a patient?
No, I do not do boy stuff. I am a GYNECOLOGIST.
5. Are scrubs comfortable to wear to work?
No, wearing pajamas to work really stinks.
4. Should I stop my birth control pills if I am trying to get pregnant?
No. If you have to ask this question, perhaps you should not procreate.
3. Me: ‘Are you sexually active?’ Teenager: ‘Sort Of’
This is a common ‘stupid answer’. On further questioning as to the nature of said pseudo sexual activity, the actual answer in most cases, should have been a simple ‘yes.’
1. I ask stupid questions too.
I am also guilty of the stupid question. I recently asked a teen patient if she had ever been sexually active. She then paused and looked at me like I was an idiot and said, “Yes, I have a baby.”
Face palm. Sure enough, there on her intake form as plain as day, she had noted that she had a one year old. Now she is probably looking for a new gynecologist who understands how babies are made.
What is the stupidest question you have ever heard or asked. . .or been asked?