One of my favorite stories was when I was a new pediatrician in our community in South Florida. After a busy morning of gardening, I ran to the supermarket to buy a few things, all sweaty and dirty.
I bumped into the mother of a patient and she did the usual “Oh I’m so glad I ran into you!” line and I thought she was going to ask me a question about her child.
I started to apologize about how I look when she proceeded to tell me that she had a rash on her breast. Before I could react, she picked up her blouse, and in the middle of the produce aisle, moved her bra out of the way to show me this irritation on her left breast!
“I’m not your doctor,” I exclaimed, “and this is hardly the place to show me your breast!”
That was the last time I went shopping in my dirty gardening clothes. In fact, when I was still in practice, I would rather drive to a more distant shopping center than go to one closer to home, just to minimize the chances of running into patients.
By the way, the standard answer that I always gave to adults, whether in the office, at parties, or to relatives on the phone, was “I’m just a pediatrician. I don’t treat adults!” Some people would get the message, but they would refuse to take no for an answer.
“But you went to medical school and had to learn about adults too,” they would insist.
Now that medical school was more than 50 years ago, I suggest that they not rely on my medical advice.
By the way, my wife hates when I used to say, “I used to be a doctor.”
“You’re still a doctor,” she reminds me.
O.K. Now I say, “I’m a retired doctor.” She prefers the sound of that.
But the answer is still no. Please don’t show me your breasts in public.